Everest anniversary: World's five deadliest mountains

Julian Gavaghan
Everest anniversary: World's five deadliest mountains

New Zealand adventurer Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became first men to climb Mount Everest 60 years ago today.

Six decades later, more than 3,000 people have reached the top of the world – and 227 people are known to have died trying.

Avalanches, rock falls, crevasses, sub-zero temperatures, extreme ice and incredibly thin air are all factors in making mountains dangerous places to be, let alone climb.

But which peaks are the world’s deadliest? Here’s the top five:







5. Siula Grande, Peru (20,814ft)

Siula Grande has long been billed as the deadliest mountain in the Americas – north and south – after claiming the lives of dozens of climbers.

The Peruvian peak - with its 20,814ft summit high in the Andes - includes the challenge of a near vertical western face, which was only conquered in 1985.

But that first ascent is better known for the harrowing tale of survival, which inspired the 2003 movie Touching the Void.

Briton Joe Simpson was left for dead by his climbing partner and compatriot Simon Yates after falling 100ft into a crevasse.

Yet Simpson survived the plunge with a badly broken leg and crawled along the glacier for three days to reach safety.
 
4. Everest, Nepal/Tibet (29,029ft)

It may be the world’s highest mountain – and the forbidding location of some notable deaths – but, surprisingly, Everest is not the world’s most dangerous peak.

Of the 3,000 successful attempts to reach the 29,029ft summit, 273 have died.

However, Everest – known by Tibetans as Chomolungma, or ‘Holy Mother’, for centuries before the British named it in 1865 – should never be written off.



















[ Everest achievement means fewer 'world firsts' for modern-day adventurers]


Above 26,000ft on the Himalayan peak is the infamous Death Zone where nearly all fatalities have occurred.

At this level, the air is so thin that, without at least a month of high-altitude acclimatisation, a sea-level dweller would lose consciousness within three minutes.

The inhospitable terrain, swirling winds and sub-zero temperatures also make rescue by helicopter impossible, so climbers stuck here usually die.



 
3. K2, China/Pakistan (28, 251ft)

K2, the world’s second highest mountain, is easily one of the cruellest of the killer peaks.

For every four people to reach the 28,251ft summit, which marks the border between Pakistan and China, one has died trying.













But the Himalayan mountain – which, unlike Everest, has never been climbed in winter – holds a particular curse for female climbers.

Polish Wanda Rutkiewicz became the first woman to reach the summit in 1986.


[ Everest anniversary: 12 facts about the world's highest mountain]



Over the next 18 years all five females to match this feat were killed – three on the descent and two on a nearby mountain shortly after.

Spain's Edurne Pasaban finally broke the curse in 2004 – and, crucially, she remains alive today.

2. Mont Blanc, France/Italy (15,781ft)

Mont Blanc, Europe’s biggest mountain, is only half the size of Everest - yet it is by far the deadlier mountain in terms of the total number of deaths.

Up to 100 climbers die every year attempting to reach its summit, which is shared between France and Italy, and almost 8,000 have been killed since records began.


[ On This Day: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay are first to climb Mount Everest]



This is largely because, being in the Alps and in the heart of Europe, many more people have attempted to reach its icy summit than any other.

The glacier, which is also known as Death Mountain or the White Killer, packs its biggest punch in the form of awesome avalanches.

Last summer, nine climbers – including three Britons - were swept to the deaths by a 500ft-wide wall of snow.

1. Annapurna, Nepal (26,545ft)

Avalanche-prone Annapurna is the mountain most likely to kill you.

For every five people to reach the 26,545ft summit – and only 130 have – two have died trying, giving it the highest death rate in the world.

The Nepalese peak, which is only the 10th highest on earth, was the first of the 14 Eight Thousanders – mountains over 8,000 metres (26,200ft) - to be scaled in 1950.

Yet its fearsome reputation has meant few others have attempted to climb Annapurna. For starters, even getting to its base of the Himalayan peak, whose Sanskrit name means the Goddess of the Harvests, is a real challenge.

It is surrounded by the Kali Gandaki Gorge, which descends 18,000ft from the summit and is the deepest canyon on earth.

And if that doesn’t kill you, the frequent violent storms make the slopes prone to massive avalanches will.

Spectacular colour images of Edmund Hillary's historic climb to the Mount Everest summit: