Jun 06, 2022
Revealed: The World’s Most Dangerous Mountains
Here in the UK we are spoilt for choice when it comes to mountains to hike. If you were one of the many children dragged up Mount Snowdon on a family holiday (and now probably delight in doing the same to your own children), you’ll be familiar with it being an activity for a great day out but still hard work, especially for first timers.
But, compared to the likes of Everest, UK peaks are a walk in the park, right? The data we found says otherwise. You may in fact be surprised to hear just how dangerous these mountains can be. Changing weather conditions, fading light, slippery slopes and ill-equipped walkers queuing for summit selfies, all keep the amazing volunteer mountain rescue teams busy a full 365 days a year.
Here at TOG24, we want to help you decide which mountain to tackle next, hopefully wearing a nice warm coat of course. So we crunched some numbers on the five biggest mountains in the UK to discover which one takes the crown for most dangerous. Spoiler: It’s probably not what you’d expect!
Our research looked at the height of each mountain, average annual visitors, average annual rescue calls, the lowest summit temperature and average annual deaths, to give us a danger score out of 100. In case you fancy going further afield, we’ve also got the low-down on the world’s biggest mountains too, and the results are pretty shocking.
Which is the UK’s Most Dangerous Mountain?
- Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland. 20/100
Standing at an impressive 852 meters the UK’s fifth largest mountain, Slieve Donard, gets around 90,000 visitors every year. It boasts the Mourne Wall that runs all the way up the slopes to a tower at the top. Thought of as a relatively easy climb, the mountain still sees about 66 rescue calls and one death per year. In 2006 a British soldier was struck by lightning on the hillside.
- Cairngorms, Scotland. 29/100
The second highest mountain range in the UK, comes forth in our most dangerous list. The Cairngorms in Scotland can reach a chilly minus 14 degrees. This doesn’t stop 30,000 climbers visiting every year. Used as a practice run for Everest, this mountain range is popular with ice climbers, rock climbers and skiers. However, on average two people die every year and 150 calls are made to rescue teams as people get into trouble in difficult conditions.
- Scafell Pike, Cumbria, England. 51/100
Scafell Pike is the UK’s fourth largest peak at 978 meters, and is said to take up to six hours for beginner climbers. 290,000 people climb Scafell Pike each year, many of them taking part in the ‘National three Peaks’ to raise money for charity. This mountain is one that gets the most rescue calls each with over 600 dealing with people underestimating the challenge ahead. Like the Cairngorms, two people die each year on average.
- Ben Nevis, Scotland. 55/100
The highest mountain in the UK is the second most dangerous in our list. A colossal 1,345 meters high, Ben Nevis is not for the faint hearted, or inexperienced. There is a choice of two paths for beginners or those more experienced. Some people even take part in ‘The Ben Race’ where they reach the top and come back down again in 90 minutes! For most of us though, it will be around five hours. 100,000 people each year attempt Ben Nevis with six six sadly dying in the attempt each year. Temperatures in this part of the world have been known to reach minus 17 degrees, so hikers need to be prepared.
- Snowdon, Wales. 62/100
Snowdon has a reputation for being an easy walk, but even this popular climb (half a million people a year visit) there is a chance for disaster to strike. 200 calls to mountain rescue are made each year and tragically, more people die on Snowdon than on any other mountain in the UK. Rescuers report people arriving ill-prepared to walk up 1,085 meters, some even wearing flip-flops!
Which are the Most Dangerous Mountains in the World?
We also investigated how dangerous the largest mountains in the rest of the world can be. These kinds of climb are not accessible to most people, as the cost to ascend these with guides and permits range from £8,000 to over £35,000. And trust us, this is not an area where you’d want to cut costs. We looked at the height, total number of climbers, the coldest recorded temperature and total number of deaths to score each mountain out of 100 for danger.
- Makalu, Nepal/China. 26/100
Technically the safest of the largest mountains to climb, Makalu is actually the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,485 meters. A four-sided pyramid shape, Makalu lies 12 miles from Mount Everest. Reaching a bone-chilling minus 36 degrees at the summit, 234 brave people have reached the top. Sadly 26 people died trying to complete what is considered to be one of the most difficult climbs, as to reach the top involves difficult ice climbing. Combine this with extreme weather like strong winds and it’s no surprise a relatively small number of people have conquered this beast of a mountain.
- Lhotse, Nepal/Tibet 27.9/100
933 people have climbed this 8,516 meter high peak, with 20 people dying whilst trying to complete the challenge. Connected to Everest, Lhtse is considered slightly easier, but still no mean feat. Temperatures have been known to dip to minus 42 degrees so this climb needs the same preparation as Everest.
- Manaslu, Nepal. 28.6/100
Probably the most controversial mountain on the list, due to the fact it has been difficult to get climbers to prove they reached the summit. Manaslu is 8,163 meters high, and many people have photos of what they claim to be the top but experts have disagreed. The true summit is a steep snow covered ridge, which many climbers seem to make the honest mistake of missing due to its hidden position. Tragically, 60 people have died trying to climb Manaslu, so it’s still quite the challenge, wherever you end up.
- Annapurna 1, Nepal. 29.3/100
The first eight-thousand meter peak to be climbed back in 1950, Annapurna 1 stands 8,126 meters high. This mountain holds the claim for deadliest, as only 244 people have climbed and 72 of those perished while doing so. Reaching temperatures of minus 20 degrees, it remains covered in snow all year round. Couple this with high winds and you’ve got a tough challenge for even the most experienced climbers.
- Dhaulagiri, Nepal. 30.2/100
Located in North central Nepal, this mountain is the seventh highest in the world and considered a technical climb. With a crest that stretches for 30 miles, it is nestled against the worlds deepest river, which runs between Dhaulagiri and Annapurna 1. To date 540 people have reached the summit, and 73 have lost their lives. In April 2022, a top Greek Alpinist lost his life as he fell ill on the descent.
- Nanga Parbat, Pakistan. 30.5/100
400 climbers have tackled the ninth highest peak in the world, but it has earned the nickname “killer mountain” due to the 83 people who have lost their lives. Rivalling K2 for technical difficulty, Nanga Parbat stands prominently above other terrain leaving it open to the elements. Climbers say it is just as hard to climb in summer due to the weather, and probably due to the fact it comes complete with a 15,000 foot single wall of rock and ice that is considered the highest face in the world.
- Kanchenjunga, Nepal/India. 30.6/100
Third highest in the world, only 243 people have reached the 8,586 meter summit, with 73 people sadly dying. A 50 year old climber from India was the latest victim in May 2022, as he collapsed before reaching the final stages. Guides say he refused to turn back and died from exhaustion. History was made recently by the first Pakistani climber Shehroze Kashif, to summit Kanchenjunga, who also takes the claim to be the youngest to do so, at just 20 years old. He also holds the record for being the youngest climber of both Everest and K2.
- K2, Kashmir, 32/100
Also known as Mount Godwin-Austen, many climbers wonder if K2 is deadlier than Everest. Although it’s been beaten to the top spot in this list, the fatality rate is significantly higher due to the fact a lot less people have made it to the top of K2. 377 compared to over 6,000 for Mt. Everest. 91 people have lost their lives trying to conquer this second largest mountain in the world, and it’s mainly down to the volatile weather. High winds and well below freezing temperatures make K2 a very difficult climb.
- Cho Oyu, China/Nepal, 35/100
Although this is considered to be the easiest eight-thousand meter mountain to climb, don’t let that fool you into thinking it could be like a walk up Ben Nevis. The altitude alone makes it extremely challenging and climbers still lose their lives here every year. Over 3000 people have made it to the summit, and there have been 44 fatalities. You’d need to set aside ten weeks to climb Cho Oyu, and this coupled with the snow and ice can cause extreme fatigue. But even so, many climbers see it as a stepping stone in experience to climbing Mount Everest.
- Mount Everest, China/Nepal, 92/100
Taking the top spot for the most dangerous mountain in the world is also the highest, Mount Everest has seen over 10,000 people summit, but over 300 people have lost their lives trying to complete the challenge. Its latest victim, Russian climber Pavel Kostrikin, collapsed and died of altitude sickness at Camp I, in May 2022. Over a third of climbers turn back on their mission, as it takes up to two months to climb Everest, meaning exhaustion and altitude sickness are common. The danger of this mountain seems to be exactly what attracts so many people to it, even though they know once they reach the top, there is still a high chance of something going wrong on the way down. Even with its reputation, it’s common for climbers to have to queue for up to 20 mins in a crowd to reach the top.
Mark Ward, from TOG24, said: “Our research shows that no climber, whatever their experience level, should ever underestimate a mountain and mother nature, they are in charge! Preparation, the right equipment and knowing when to come back down for your safety, applies whether it’s a family hike in the Lake District or a bucket list 8000 meter peak challenge. You should want to do everything to ensure the only thing you come away with is a successful and fun climbing story to tell your friends.”
UK Department for Transport