The World's 11 Most Difficult Mountain Climbs

Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world. The huge massif of Kangchenjunga is buttressed by great ridges running roughly due east to west and north to south, forming a giant X. These ridges contain a host of spectacular 6-7,000 meter peaks, according to Summit Post. The climb is physically very demanding with long days and sections with a lot of exposure. The date rate is about 20 percent.

The Matterhorn, Switzerland and Italy

The giant horn-looking mountain has the highest fatality rate in the Alps – 450 climbers have died until 2013. Fewer people are climbing it because of the mountains lethal reputation. The problems come from the unpredictable avalanches and rock falls. The routes are also very steep. The weather can be dangerous and unpredictable even in the summer.

Mount Fitz Roy

At about 11,020 feet tall, Mount Fitz Roy is considered to be of "average height," yet it easily ranks as one of the world's most arduous climbs as mountaineers are presented with long sections of technical climbing thanks to its entirely vertical granite peak. The climbing routes are extremely steep on all sides leading to the top, and its weather is pretty erratic.

Jannu, Nepal

Jannu is not as famous as Everest but it's very well known among expert mountaineers for its technical difficulty. Some climbs are over 23,000 feet. "The North Face of Jannu is the present greatest challenge of the Himalaya, according to Erhard Loretan who tried it in 2002 and 2003."

Mount St. Elias, Canada and U.S.

What makes Mount St. Elias very dangerous is the weather. It's simply horrible all the time because of the mountain's location just 10 miles from the ocean. When you add that factor to the high altitude of 18,000 feet, you get almost never-ending Pacific storms.

Cerro Torre, Chile and Argentina

This is probably the hardest low altitude climb in the world. It's a lot more technical than other climbs and the weather conditions are almost always bad. Ice avalanches are a given. You are climbing a vertical mile of ice sheet, topped with more ice. There are few clear days that make the climbing easier. Getting to the summit requires ice climbing. Whirling storm clouds are the usual environment.

Annapurna, Nepal

Just about 150 people have even tried to climb the world's 10th highest mountain; about a third of them have died. This is the highest fatality rate. "Annapurna is [a] life-taking mountain," Mingma Sherpa wrote on his expedition page. "Climbing Annapurna depends on luck and hard work," quoted by Rock and Ice Magazine. The south face of the mountain is considered among the most problematic climbs ever.

Gauri Sankar, Tibet and Nepal

A treacherous mountain with extremely difficult climbs. The earliest attempts to climb Gauri Shankar were in the 1950's and 1960's, and all parties were defeated by blizzards, avalanches, and steep, often overhung, icy faces, according to Peak Ware. The summit was officially closed in 1965 until 1979.

Gasherbrum IV

The peak is 26,000 feet and an extremely technical climb, according to Summit Post. Its sheer rock faces are relentless and the objective dangers are many. On top of that, it's located in a part of the world where the weather is very unstable. A few attempts have been made and but even fewer have been successful.

Nanga Parbat

The mountain rises 26,658 feet. Altitude sickness alone is a huge risk factor, in addition to strong winds, snow, rock falls and avalanches. The most difficult climb is an ascent of Nanga Parbat via the unclimbed Mazeno Ridge which constitutes the longest ridge in the world, according to Summit Post. A number of expeditions have tried to conquer it in the winter but no one has succeeded.


"It's one of the most seldom-climbed mountains in the world. It has all the altitude and exposure of Everest, but requires much more technical skill to summit," according to David Lama, Austrian sport climber and mountaineer. "It's one of the hardest unclimbed routes left in the world – sort of like climbing the Eiger, with a Cerro Torre on top. [...] It's twice as big, and it's twice as high – it's much more complex, you're on the wall much longer, the descent is much more difficult, and since no one has tried it, there's no way to learn from someone else mistakes."