Mountain climbing is a demanding activity that is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Wild animals, avalanches and pneumonia are all potential hazards that could occur at any moment. Climbing some of the world’s most dangerous mountains is a dream of every serious rock climber. Every year, thousands make that dream a reality. The following mountains require years of training, hard work, mental preparation and dedication before someone can even think about attempting them. Altogether, these 10 mountains have claimed thousands of lives, yet still attract many hopeful climbers eager to attempt the long and dangerous journey to the top.
1. Eiger, Switzerland
This stone giant stands at an impressive 3,970 metres. The first recorded person to reach the top was in 1858, but the notoriously tough north face was not successfully passed until 1938. The north face of this mountain is known as the Murder Wall amongst rock climbers and has claimed over 64 lives since 1935.
2. Annapurna, Nepal
Annapurna is an ancient Sanskrit word which translates to the ‘Goddess of the Harvests.’ 60 people have perished on the slopes of this 8,091 metre mountain which is the 10th highest in the world. Only 157 brave souls have ever made it to the top. The first was in 1950 followed by a successful ascent from the south face in 1970. More recently, Tomaz Humar from Slovenia became the first solo climber to make it to the top via the south face in 2007.
3. K2, Pakistan/Chinese Border
K2 is the second highest mountain in the world at a staggering 8,611 metres. No one has ever attempted to climb this mountain during the winter. One out of every four climbers that start the long climb will die before they reach the top. The summit is plagued by extreme storms that have earned it the nickname Savage Mountain.
4. Mont Blanc, French/Italian Border
The Mont Blanc may not seem so intimidating as it stands at only 4,810 metres, yet it has claimed over 8000 lives. This is due to its popularity and it is climbed by an average of 20,000 tourists every year. France and Italy have fought for centuries over ownership of this mountain and currently share the rights although the majority of it is in France. The first woman to reach the top of Mont Blanc was Marie Paradis in 1808.
5. Nanga Parbat, Pakistan
This 8,126 metre behemoth has also never been conquered during the winter time. Many climbers have lost their lives here including 10 tourists who were tragically shot and killed by local extremists. The name Nanga Parbat means Naked Mountain in Urdu, but several deaths have earned it the more fitting title of Killer Mountain.
6. Kangchenjunga, Himalayas
The world’s third highest mountain sits on the border of Nepal and the Indian state of Sikkim. It is worshipped by the people of Darjeeling and Sikkim who refer to it as the Five Treasures of Snow after its five high peaks. In 1955 a British Expedition became the first group to reach the top but never actually set foot on the peak. This was because of a promise to the Maharaja of Sikkim who had asked that the top of the mountain remain untouched. Every climber to this day has followed the same tradition.
7. Fitz Roy, Patagonia
Fitz Roy is one of the most technically difficult mountains to climb despite its relatively small size of 3, 405 metres. Mount Everest has over 100 visitors to the top every single day during the summer season, but Fitz Roy is lucky to receive even one guest per year. It is extremely isolated which creates many problems for climbers both technically and mentally.
8. Vinson Massif, Antarctic
The first time this 4,892 metre giant was seen by human eyes in 1958 after a US Navy Aircraft spotted it. It was successfully climbed in 1966, and more than 1,400 climbers have conquered it since. Many guide companies offer expeditions to the top for around $30,000 per person as it is relatively easy to climb despite its huge size.
9. The Matterhorn, Swiss/French Border
The Matterhorn is one of the deadliest mountains in the Alps. The first expedition to the top ended in tragedy after four members of the party fell to their deaths on the way back down. This mountain stands 4,478 metres tall and was one of the last mountains to be climbed in the Alps.
10. Mount Everest, Himalayas
Earth’s highest mountain is an incredible 8,848 metres high. It is known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Chomolungma in Tibet. Its status as the world’s highest mountain has attracted a huge amount of tourists, and as of March 2012 it has been climbed 5,656 times. Many people have claimed that the commercialization of Everest has devalued one of the most incredible places on the planet.
Mountains are ancient, mystical places that are among the most isolated places in the world. Their harsh conditions and dangerous paths seem to be indicating that humans are not welcome on their slopes. Despite this, thousands of climbers are drawn to mountains each and every year, and even the risk of death is not enough to deter them.