These are nature’s beautiful killers; tall peaks that have no regard for social status or the family that you may be leaving behind. They may be majestic and picturesque from afar, but adventurers take heed – these towering formations of rock and ice can kill you without pause. These ten mountaintops from around the globe have the highest mortality rates, claiming the most lives per annual known visits.
The world’s deadliest mountain, Annapurna I, tops out with a death rate of an astounding 41%, meaning almost half of those that have made the deadly climb never made it back. Ironically, though it’s number 1 on this list, Annapurna is the 10th highest mountain, towering at 8,091 meters or 26,545 feet above sea level. 130 climbers may have summited Annapurna I, but 53 never saw success, dying from a variety of reasons. One notable expedition was in 1950, when Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal led an expedition up Annapurna I with nothing but a roughly routed map. During the descent, Herzog and Lachenal were met with terrible conditions that led to extreme frostbite. Herzog lost all of his fingers and toes and immortalized the journey in the bestselling book, Annapurna.
Nanga Parbat just barely makes it into the top ten highest mountains, sneaking in at number 9 at 8,126 meters or 26,660 feet. Though it may not be amongst the tallest, it is one of the deadliest and most notoriously difficult climbs out there. Due to terrible weather conditions and ice cold temperatures, Nanga Parbat has yet to be summited during the winter, though 28 different expeditions, from 1988 to 2015, have tried. The mountain has been summited 263 times, but the 68 lives it has claimed give it a frightening mortality rate of near 23%. Nanga Parbat has been rightfully dubbed “Man Eater” and “Killer Mountain”, its most recent victim being South Korean climber, Go Mi-Young, who summited the peak in 2009 before falling off of a cliff on the descent down.
At 8,586 meters or 28,169 feet, Kangchenjunga is the third highest and the 3rd deadliest mountain in the world. Located just west of the Tamur River in the Kangchenjunga Himal section of the Himalayas, the main peak of this mountain has not seen much action, but that which it has seen has not always ended in celebration of joy. While 187 climbers have successfully summited the high peak of Kangchenjunga, its face is a graveyard for 40 unfortunate climbers. At a 22% death rate, it’s not encouraged to put Kangchenjunga on your bucket list, as it could easily be the last thing you try to accomplish. During bad weather, sections of Kangchenjunga can be quite difficult to navigate correctly, making it quite possibly to dangerous veer off path.
Being known as the Savage Mountain would likely give climbers some clue as to how dangerous or difficult the climb up this 8,611 meter or 28,251 foot mountain is. K2 is the 2nd highest mountain in the world and, due to extremely hazardous conditions, has never been successfully climbed during the winter. In 1856, a European team sent to survey the mountain was the first to designate it “K2”, for being the second peak in the Karakoram range. Oscar Eckenstein and Aleister Crowley were two of a six-man team that attempted to scale the mountain in 1902, and though they pushed hard and made 5 attempts, they came about 2,000 meters or 6,500 feet shy of reaching the peak. K2’s steep, icy slopes, and unpredictable weather have been attributed to its near 19% overall death rate.
This impressive formation of nature in Nepal stretches 8,167 meters or 26,795 feet above sea level and is the seventh highest mountain in the world. Many climbers have braved the cliffs, icy slopes, and freezing weather of Dhaulagiri, and though 313 mountaineers have successfully summited the mountain, as many as 56 have perished, bringing the mountain’s fatality rate to around 18%. Dhaulagiri was first attempted in 1960 by an expedition headed by Swiss, Austrian, and Nepali climbers. Nine years later, an American team led by Boyd Everette attempted the climb and wound up being the first recorded team to have perished on Dhaulagiri. In the midst of the expedition, an avalanche killed Everett and seven of his team members. Other reported deaths occurred in 1975, 1978, 1984, 1990, and 1998.
Coming in as the fifth highest mountain in the world, at an astounding 8,485 meters or 27,838 feet respectively, Makalu in the Mahalangur Himalayas also sports a mortality rate of around 11%. The first recorded climb of Makalu came in 1954 at the hands of William Siri and his team. This was the first time Makalu showed its perilous colors, as storms forced the team to turn back. A year later, French climbers Jean Couzy and Lionel Terray successful summited the mountain, but not everyone has been as lucky since. 206 climbers may have summited the mountain, but 22 have perished at the hands of this impressively dangerous peak. Between avalanches, frigid weather, and dangerous paths, a trek on Makalu is not to be taken lightly.
Standing an impressive 8,027 meters or 26,335 feet tall, Shishapangma of the Hiimalayan range is the 14th highest mount in the world, and, despite restrictions imposed by the Government of China and the Tibet Autonomous Region that limit foreign travelers, it’s one of the deadliest peaks out there. Though this Tibetan range is sometimes labeled among the easiest of the eight-thousanders, the mortality rate of 9.5% paints an entirely different picture. Overall, the mountain has seen 19 deaths, and while that number seems low, so is the number of visitors to the range. Only 201 brave climbers have summited Shishapangma, a considerably small number compared to, say, Everest’s 4,000.
Gasherbrum I stands within a remote group of peaks along the Baltoro Glacier on the northeastern end in the Karakoram range. It is the tallest peak of the bunch at 8,080 meters or 26,509 feet. The snowy mountain is the resting place for around 29 climbers, while only 334 can claim victory over the perilous paths, giving Gasherbrum I a mortality rate of around 9.43%. Among the 29 that have perished on the mountain is legendary Polish mountaineer, Artur Hajzer. After attempting to scale Gasherbrum I, Haizer and fellow climber Marcin Kaczkan were forced to return to camp when weather conditions made it impossible to reach the peak. The two made it to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters or 21,000 feet along a route known as the Japanese Couloir. Sometime after, Haizer fell to his death for reasons unknown.
Likely the world’s most famous mountain peak, this Himalayan great is the grave site of many ambitious climbers. Everest was first conquered in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay of John Hunt’s expedition, and since then has been a popular go-to for climbers looking to prove their skill. Anything from lack of oxygen to climbing hazards have claimed the lives of over 250 individuals, dating back to the 1922 British Expedition. Mount Everest carries with it a mortality rate of 5.7% and is one of the 14 eight-thousanders – a collection of mountains that peak over 8,000 meters or roughly 26,000 feet. In April of 2015, upwards of 22 were reported dead at the base of the mountain when an earthquake triggered a devastating avalanche.
Mont Blanc may not have the highest mortality rate, topping off around .05%, but this mountain is home to more annual deaths a year than any other impressive peak. Often hailed as the deadliest mountain, Mont Blanc’s impressively high annual death count stems from being one of the most visited tourist spots in the world. Mont Blanc is praised as the highest mounts in the Alps and stands 4,807 meters or 15,771 feet tall. Each year, it is estimated that this Great White Mountain claims 100 lives, a number that most mountains just barely reach on a yearly basis. The mountains easy accessibility is thought to be a big factor in many deaths, with inexperienced climbers underestimating the ease of the mountain’s walk.