This weekend, the big blockbuster movie Everest will arrive in theaters, giving mainstream audiences a look at what it is like to climb the highest mountain on the planet. The film’s plot centers on the notorious 1996 climbing season, which was famously chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s classic mountaineering book Into Thin Air.
While the movie rightfully portrays Everest as a very dangerous place, the peak doesn’t even come close to ranking among the most difficult and deadly mountains. Here are the real four most dangerous mountains in the world to climb.
Located in north-central Nepal, Annapurna is widely considered to be the deadliest mountain on Earth, and one of the most difficult to climb. Standing 26,545 feet in height, it is the 10th-highest peak on the planet and is well known for its frequent, and sudden, avalanches.
Just how dangerous is an expedition to Annapurna? Consider this: There have been fewer than 200 successful summits of the mountain, and yet 61 people have lost their lives on its slopes, giving Annapurna a fatality rate of about 32 percent. In other words, for every three people who reach the top, one person dies.
Those are not particularly great odds.
Pakistan’s K2 is second only to Everest in terms of height, but it is orders of magnitude more difficult to climb. Where Everest might see more than 500 successful summits in any given year, K2 may go years without anyone actually reaching the top.
With an altitude of 28,251 feet, and slopes that demand incredible technical-climbing skills, K2 is considered the “Mountaineer’s Mountain.” But since about one in four climbers who attempt it die in the process, K2 has also earned the moniker of “Savage Mountain.” The mountain is such a difficult, and at times inhospitable, place that it has never been climbed during the winter, either.
Nanga Parbat, Pakistan
If there is a mountain that can rival K2 in terms of technical difficulty, it is Nanga Parbat. At 26,660 feet in height, it is the ninth-tallest mountain on Earth, but it boasts the highest face. The legendary Rupal Face rises 15,090 feet, making it the largest — and most intimidating — rock wall on the planet, requiring extreme dedication and skill to overcome.
Like K2, Nanga Parbat has never been summited during the winter, although numerous climbers have died trying. With a fatality rate of more than 22 percent, the mountain has earned the ominous nickname of “Man Eater” for its ability to push climbers to their absolute physical limits.
Located along the border of Nepal and India, Kanchenjunga is the third-tallest peak in the world at 28,169 feet. The mountain is well known for its extremely unpredictable weather, incredibly cold temperatures and frequent avalanches, all of which conspire with one another to make this one of the most difficult climbs in the entire world, not to mention one of the deadliest.
Kangchenjunga has a fatality rate of about 20 percent, which means that one out of every five climbers perishes on their attempt to reach the summit. And, unlike most other mountains, this one seems to be getting deadlier over time.
When you head to the theater to see Everest this weekend, keep in mind just how difficult some of these other peaks truly are. In this day and age, Everest is a relative walk in the park compared to some of the other mountaineering challenges out there.
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