Mountain files: the deadliest mountains – Nanga Parbat and Annapurna

I’m going to continue with this month’s mountain theme, as it seemed to be really loved (even more will follow after this). In the previous post I wrote, with the 5 highest mountains in the world I felt bad because I didn’t have the chance to mention two mountains which fascinated alpinists from all around the world ever since they were discovered. Also, most people believe that Everest or K2 are the hardest mountains to climb; while they may be the highest mountains, they’re not even in the top 3 deadliest mountains.

The top 2 spots are taken by the two death twins, as they are sometimes called: Nanga Parbat and Annapurna. These legendary peaks have attracted adventurers and climbers for so so many years, and the interes isn’t slowing down.



Annapurna(left); Seems really peaceful sometimes. By Curr_En

Annapurna in fact represents a series of peaks in the Himalaya, but we’re only going to refer to its highest point; at 8,091 meters, it’s the 10th largest in the world. Located in central Nepal, it’s ironically the first mountain over 8000 meters to ever be climbed. The thing is, about 130 climbers have succombed to the avalanche-prone mountain, but 53 have died trying — making the fatality rate of 41% the highest in the world.


Annapurna doesn’t seem so peaceful now; really massive and humbling. By Cervusvir

A fascinating real story marks the epic struggle of the man to climb this peak: Herzog and Lachenal were nearing the top of Annapurna, when Lachenal felt that his feet were not going to last much longer, so he asked Herzog:

“If I go back, what will you do?”

Without even thinking of abandoning the mountain, Herzog replied:

“I shall go on by myself.”

Lachenal understood that this would mean certain death for him, so he climbed along, unwilling to let Herzog go for a solo ascent. Both men lost their toes to frostbite, and Herzog, who had dropped his gloves, lost all his fingers as well.

Nanga Parbat

nanga parbat

Simply fan-tas-tic! By Heartkins

Nanga Parbat means “Naked Mountain” in Urdu, but it’s also called sometimes Diamir, which means “The King Mountain”. It’s the ninth highest mountain on Earth, and considered by many to be the hardest, because to the south Nanga Parbat boasts what is the highest mountain face in the world. Climbers also called affectionately the Man Eater.

nanga parbat

The Man Eater seems from another world; by Heartkins again – you rock dude

Nanga Parbat took 31 lives before it was climbed by Austrian Herman Buhl in 1953. Buhl was the first to bring the alpine way of ascent to the Himalaya – fast, light, and without oxygen. He began with a team of ten, but they all slowly backed down. Not one to cave to peer pressure, Buhl continued to the top solo, in what is the most impressive mountain ascents ever.

nanga parbat

Photo from wikipedia.

He is the only man ever who has made the first ascent of a summit this large by himself. It must have been a unique feeling: staring the monster in the face and facing it. But the reward… is just incredible. Also, when he returned darkness had fallen, and so Buhl spent the night alone, bearing the howling of the mountain by himself. There ain’t no stronger feeling.

nanga parbat

Staring the beast in the face by aamir567

13 thoughts on “Mountain files: the deadliest mountains – Nanga Parbat and Annapurna

  1. Dr Tom

    “Annapurna doesn’t seem so peaceful now; really massive and humbling. By Cervusvir” – the mountain shown in that picture is Dhaulagiri, not Annapurna

  2. Pingback: The continents and their highest points | ZME Science

  3. Alien Goat Hearder

    That second picture is indeed one of Dhaulagiri, another massive +8000 meter peak.

  4. Albert Vanular

    Where do you get your facts from? While Everest is not one of the deadliest mounains per ratio of expeditions it has still seen a large number of fatalities. I will not quibble on Everest though because it has become polluted with climbers and expeditions over the last 20 years so it is hard to rate it properly..but K2? not one of the world’s deadliest mountains?…How wrong can you be? Talk to any qualified mountaineer about K2 (known as the Savage Mountain). Most experts all agree it is the world’s deadliest mountain and certainly one of the most difficult to climb. Per capita death toll on K2 stands at a staggering 28%, 2nd highest in the world and highest death toll of the 8000ers. For My money K2 is still the worlds. deadliest mountain

  5. Justin

    Annapurna is definitely the deadliest. This always goes back and forth between people. Is K2 deadlier or is it Annapurna. K2 is technically more difficult, but Annapurna environment on the mountain makes it more deadly. Constant ice falls and avalanches. K2 is deadly because of the steepness of it. Of coarse to get an exact measurement, you have to have the same amount of people climbing it in the same time frame, say a decade time frame, don’t include the first attempts, and real mountain climbers only. Rich texans polluted Mt. Everest having not seen a mountain before and just paying a sherpa to haul there ass up the mountain. The majority of deaths on Everest are from the inexperienced.

  6. Robert


    Great pics man.I have a question about something you have written. The quote below is from your text. It makes little sense, can you clarify?. Are you saying that 130 climbers have attempted to climb Annapurna-which doesn’t seem accurate-and that
    fifty three of those have died?. The use of the word Succumbed is a bit confusing, since it so often used in place of the word DIE.

    “The thing is, about 130 climbers have succombed to the avalanche-prone mountain, but 53 have died trying”.


  7. CharlotteBearFan

    Buhl is not the only climber to solo Nanga Parbat. Reinhold Messner soloed the Diamir face. He also was the first to climb the Rupal face, with his brother Gunther, who died on the descent.    

  8. david95

    New most impressive climb ever:

    Ueli Steck solo’d Annapurna South Face in only 28 hours.

  9. Jon Mosher

    It’s much harder to rate how dangerous a mountain actually is. By rating how difficult a mountain is to summit you have to go by its weakest link; which means the easiest route. Than you have to look at the skill of the climbers climbing it. Many people with little to no climbing skills, yet are in good mental and physical con. can summit Everest (when the mountain will let them). You take the same climbers to 2000m spire in S. Patagonia and they wouldn’t know the first thing about tackling it. Even though the spire has been climbed 30 times and only 1 person died doing it, it’s much harder to climb than everest. So the spires 3.3% is better than the 5.5% of Everest. Why? those climbers were actually very good climbers, nobody who wasnt a good mixed rock/ice climber would even dare to attempt the spire.

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