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Deaths Increases On Roof of the World-The Mystery Continues-Dr. H Korman-

Deaths Increase on the Roof Of the World-The Mystery Continues. Dr. H Korman

There are 14 peaks over 8000 meters 26,247 feet, called the "dead zone" and all in the Himalayas, -Nepal, India, Pakistan and Tibet. Annapurna at 8091 meters is considered to be the most dangerous peak in the world, with a 40% kill rate, ( yes every 4 out of 10 climbers perish), and Nanga Parbat at 8125 meters killed 31 before she was successfully climbed.Both of these are dangerous, difficult assaults known for bad weather, long exposure to elements, technically difficult peaks. No studies have been done on any of the 14, except for Everest, a climb that has but 2 routes which is noteable recently due its claiming the lives of experienced well equipped climbers-two of whom were dear friends. `

During the past 86 years (1921-2006) records have been kept respecting climbing fatalities in the Himalayas,focused on Mt. Everest, where 1.3% of all mountaineers on Mt. Everest, on average perished on her slopes.(Non Sherpa climbers (as was the category then) accounted for 1.6% of all fatalities and Sherpa climbers accounted for 1.1 %).

Over the past 27 years, the death rate of climbers seems to be forever on the increase. One would think, with more experienced private as well as “public” commercial expeditions led by trained and experienced guides, state of the art tools and equipment, public emphasis on fitness and nutrition, the opportunity for instant interaction and education through various social media where climbers could gather and share information and expertise, and with strategic and sophisticated computerized means to plan an expedition, mountaineers who climbed over 8000 meters ( remember some parts of the European Alps, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the Sierra Nevada are over this height) never mind Mt. Everest at 8850 meters, statistics indicate that the death rate is increasing not decreasing. We have recently lost several experienced climbers, from mysterious causes other than the expected "usual suspects".

The question is why?

Is it a numbers game, where so many more extreme sports minded individuals are climbing, than ever before, without the requisite training, conditioning, equipment or experience, so naturally the percentages of death are increasing? Is it a lack of even basic training, inability to perform under extreme circumstances or just lack of common sense?

Are the Mountains finally declaring war on the irreverent?

If better safety methods, knowledge of the terrain, available and comprehensive education, modernized tested equipment, latest technology and communication, medical awareness are not significantly reducing death by climbing, what more can be done?

Perhaps it’s as plain as the nose on our faces. Could it all boil down to “ attitude”. Have we taken the life and death risks associated with climbing for granted, as the sport continues to be labelled "extreme" or "macho" ( sorry ladies not to exclude you here as many woman today are amongst the most accomplished climbers) whose numbers are growing by" leaps and bounds"pun intended), according to sales in the industry, of everything from clothing to technology, yet we spend little time on risk factors? Mountaineering is a constant subject on the evening news, sells magazines and is romanticized by various “reality live” media, feature film, and the written word.

Logic would suggest that the risk of death is actually related to one or more of the following, traumatic or non-traumatic events-excessive fatigue, hypothermia loss of physical coordination, oedema, avalanche and falling ice, snow blindness, frostbite, loss of Oxygen, high altitude sickness ( in all its forms (AMS, HACE, HAPE)negligence or climber error, getting stranded or lost, . The Northern route from Tibet south, the longer more challenging less travelled NE Ridge, deaths were at 3.4% while on shorter Nepal route was 2.5 %.

Today we have several studies in place that do not answer the questions raised. Counter intuitively, most deaths occur on descent above 8000 meters. Not on pushing hard and driving to the summit, but on the way back to base camp.

Why is the question that most of those who perished on Everest were fit, in the prime of their lives, had families and friends and a future.
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jacobsmith - Nov 2, 2012 1:18 am - Voted 3/10

Annapurna deaths

Annapurna is indeed the statistically most dangerous mountain in the world but i believe you have misinterpreted the statistics. such high ratios are usually found in summits to fatality calculations, for every ten climbers who summit, four die trying; this can make a peak seem deadlier than it actually is, as both deaths and successes are dwarfed by the number of failed attempts.
Additionally, i feel compelled to point out that Everest has far more than two routes, (perhaps you meant two standard routes on which guide services operate?) and that there are no peaks over 8000 meters, or even 7000 meter peaks, outside of the central ranges of Asia.


Scott - Nov 2, 2012 9:24 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Annapurna deaths

I agree with much of your post, but am curious on the below:

Annapurna is indeed the statistically most dangerous mountain in the world but i believe you have misinterpreted the statistics.

How so? Other mountains have higher death rates (even those with a long climbing history) and other mountains have had a higher number of deaths.

You could probably arrange the criteria to make it fit; for example Annapurna is probably the deadliest mountain that has been climbed by over 150 people, as far as death ratios go, but other than that one statistic how is is statistically the most dangerous mountain in the world and which criteria/statistic was used?

Other mountains have far higher death ratios and other mountains have had far more deaths.


jacobsmith - Nov 2, 2012 11:25 am - Voted 3/10

Re: Annapurna deaths

this gives a nice summary of the point i was trying to make:

most of these lists seems to deal only with the most prominent peaks, are there other, more obscure peaks, which you believe have higher deaths-to-summits rates (Annapurna has .33)?


Scott - Nov 3, 2012 5:18 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Annapurna deaths

Hi Jacob,

That list is pretty bogus. Kilauea, for example, is actually one of the world's safest volcanoes (which is why is so heavily studied). The eruptions are non-violent and predictable. Just before I was there though, some people actually did get hurt. They were tourists roasting marshmallows on the lava (no joke!) when they got burned.


more obscure peaks, which you believe have higher deaths-to-summits rates (Annapurna has .33)?

Several of them, even famous mountains. Gongga Shan/Minya Konka is actually a very famous mountain (and was so even more in the past since it was once reported higher than Everest) and has a deaths-to-summits ratio of 0.73. It was first climbed in 1932, thus has a long climbing history. The death ratio finally dropped below 1.0 in 1999. Of mountains with a long climbing history, it may(?) have the highest death rate.

Meili Xue Shan is more obscure than Gongga Shan, but has killed at least 19 people so far and still no one has summitted, despite strong attempts. It's death ratio is infinity.

Other dangerous mountains with high death rates are Batura Share and Ultar, but I don't know their current ratios.


jacobsmith - Nov 5, 2012 12:53 pm - Voted 3/10

Re: Annapurna deaths

Annapurna is always the peak i have heard referenced as the most dangerous mountain, but i think what is often meant is most dangerous of the 8000 meter peaks; it is interesting that a 7000 meter peak would have a higher death rate. by Meili Xue Shan did you mean Kawagarbo, the highest peak in the range? it has the rate you described but it's sort of a cheap shot, it had one terrible accident and climbing has since been banned.

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