Trekking in Nepal

Why is Annapurna so Deadly Mountain?

There is no reason to be afraid if you love to climb mountains. Annapurna is considered one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the world and that’s why this article will explain what makes Annapurna so deadly.

Out of the top 10 highest peaks over 8000 meters, eight of them lie in the Nepalese landscape, including the world’s deadliest mountain, Annapurna. Mount Annapurna is considered one of the most dangerous peaks to conquer on earth.

Mount Annapurna standing tall at 8,091 meters is ranked the world’s tenth-highest peak. The Annapurna massif is located inside the first and largest conservation of Nepal, the Annapurna conservation area. It lies in the North central part of Nepal in the Annapurna region.

Annapurna massif has many peaks among which Annapurna I is the main peak. Though the Annapurna Base Camp trek (ABC) is one of the easiest treks in Nepal, climbing Mount Annapurna is a risky and challenging expedition.

Many elite climbers have tried to climb the Annapurna summit, but only a few have succeeded. Maurice Herzog and  Louis Lachenal were the first climbers who ascended Annapurna mountain in 1950. Herzog had to lose his fingers and toes due to frostbite, while Lachenal died 5 years later after fighting hard for his life.

Why is Annapurna so Deadly Mountain?

As of 2021, only 298 mountaineers have completed the Annapurna expedition, whereas over 6098 climbers have successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest. The mortality rate is estimated to be 32% at Mount Annapurna and 14.1% at Mount Everest. 

The fatality ratio is bigger at Mount Annapurna than at Mount Everest. Due to the high mortality rate, the Annapurna range is also known as the “Killer Mountain”.

Why is climbing Annapurna so deadly?

There are several reasons why Annapurna is considered the most dangerous mountain in the world. Here are some of the major reasons that make Mount Annapurna a killer mountain.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek Route Map
Annapurna Base Camp Trek Route Map

1) Unpredictable and intense weather

At an altitude of more than 8000 meters in the Himalayan region, mountaineers have to fight extreme coldness and wind to reach the summit. The area is covered with snow throughout the year.

The high-velocity breeze and heavy snowfall in any season make climbing Annapurna tough. Difficulty in the Annapurna mountain weather forecast brings risk during the journey.

If the climbers are unaware of the possible landslide, rock fall, or snowfall, then they won’t be able to tackle the problems at the time of its occurrence. 

If the climbers are not prepared for the technical difficulties of the terrain in avalanche-prone areas, the climbers may get trapped in the mountain.

Since it is difficult to predict the intense weather unlike other mountains, Mount Annapurna is considered dangerous. It may cause death too.  

2) Difficult trails

Mount Everest is easier to climb compared to Mount Annapurna due to the presence of the standard trail built by Sherpas. Unlike Mount Everest, there is no definite trail in Mount Annapurna to follow while climbing. So, it also takes a longer time to reach the summit.

Mountaineers must struggle under large ice cliffs, slippery ice walls, and hanging glaciers, which increases the risk of falling or injuries. Similarly, the terrain of the mountain is quite rough and winded.

3) Risk of Avalanche

Mountain Annapurna is an Avalanche-prone area. The frequent occurrence of Avalanches increases the risk and difficulty of climbing Annapurna.

In 2014, a deadly hurricane named Hudhud occurred in Nepal which apparently caused an avalanche on Mount Annapurna. The avalanche and heavy snowfall claimed around 50 trekkers and guides in Nepal.

4) Inaccessibility

Annapurna is additionally dangerous because it is difficult to access via air or road during emergencies. Located in the middle of the snow-covered mountains at such high altitudes, the geographical location of Mount Annapurna is extremely burdensome.

A helicopter evacuation and rescue mission for climbers who need immediate medical attention is a challenge due to the instability of the terrain.

Similarly, it is nearly impossible for climbers to reach a hospital when they are injured or sick once they arrive at the base of the mountain. The inaccessibility of the area makes things rather challenging for climbers needing immediate assistance.

5) Insufficient Local Support

Local help is difficult to find in Annapurna Mountain, unlike Everest or Lhotse. There are fewer porters and Sherpas here than in the Everest Region. Similarly, only a few guides and Sherpas are familiar with the Annapurna route.

Thus, the availability of only limited local support in the Annapurna Region has made this expedition more challenging. It takes more than a full day to walk to the closest human settlement from Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).

The few teahouses built for the ABC Trek are more than four hours of walk away. Similarly, the mountain is too far from a safe place to stay in a storm or bad weather, even if logistics and supplies are considered.

6) Altitude sickness

Annapurna Base Camp Trek Altitude Profile Map
Annapurna Base Camp Trek Altitude Profile Map

Altitude sickness is one of the common causes for mountain climbers to either slow down or even die. It usually occurs when you go above 3000-3500 meters in height. So, just imagine climbers at 8000 meters.

Altitude sickness specifies shortness of breath, exhaustion, nausea, fatigue, increase in heart palpitation, short-sightedness, etc. High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and heart attacks have claimed several lives at Mount Annapurna. Due to altitude sickness also, Annapurna is considered one of the deadliest mountains in the world.

Related Reading: Trekking Insurance: Why Is Important And How To Get It?

History of Annapurna Death Trolls

Though Annapurna was one of the first peaks above the 8000s, the history of Annapurna death trolls is heart-wrenching. There were times when Annapurna faced dangerous avalanches and snowstorms.

The avalanche has claimed many lives. Back in 2014, at least 39 people lost their lives due to snowstorms and avalanches during their expedition in Annapurna. This incident is considered one of Nepal’s worst mountaineering disasters.

The fatality rate is high at Annapurna that’s why only skilled climbers attempt to scale Annapurna peak. In 1950, a pair of French mountaineers embarked on becoming the first to reach the Annapurna summit.

Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal summited Annapurna but not without a price. They lost their fingers and toes due to frostbite and Lachenal died 5 years later after going through several operations.

Similarly, some renowned names such as Alpinist Ian Clough, and Russian climbers Anatoli Boukreev, Christian Kuntner, and Inaki Ochoa became casualties. In fact, rescuers are not always successful to rescue the climbers at risk. So, you cannot fully rely on the rescue team for your safety.

How to reduce the risk of climbing Annapurna?

Tips to reduce the risk of climbing Annapurna

You can’t fully eradicate the risks and problems that occur in the Annapurna expedition but you can always reduce the probability of falling into these risks.

You can take precautions and prepare yourself before embarking on the expedition. Here are a few tips to reduce the risk of climbing Annapurna.

1) Take trained medical personnel during the expedition

There’s a high likelihood of encountering altitude sickness, frostbite, and other injuries while going through the difficult trails of Annapurna.

If a medical professional is by your side, even if you encounter any medical issues, the medical professional can help you reduce the effects.

Moreover, till the rescue team reaches the spot, the medical expert can provide you with first aid.

2) Amass mountain climbing experience

Before going on board, you are recommended to accumulate some mountain climbing experience. Beginners are not recommended for the Annapurna expedition.

Climbing Annapurna requires physical and mental strength, preparation, knowledge, fitness, and dedication. And, it takes time and patience to garner all of them.

First, gain some climbing experience by trekking to high altitudes such as Langtang trekking, Everest Base camp, and Annapurna base camp.

Then, slowly shift to mountain climbing and begin with the 6000s. After you gain confidence and experience, then finally attempt Annapurna Mountain. 

3) Focus on preparation

The more you are prepared, the less you panic even if you catch trouble. Make sure you carry all the essential gear and tools required for climbing.

Become familiar with the geographical location and the route by taking reference to maps, and consulting with guides, porters, experts, and elite climbers.

Be aware of the possible environmental risks and how to avoid them. Focus on being prepared for the worst-case scenario. 

Is Annapurna Circuit dangerous?

Annapurna is one of the 8000s whose beauty attracts a vast number of trekkers every year. Trekkers choose Annapurna Base Camp to observe the heavenly beauty of Annapurna mountain and other striking mountains in the vicinity, but the rewarding destination costs lots of difficulties.

Yes! You might encounter problems in the Annapurna Circuit while passing the dangerous Thorung La, which is the world’s highest mountain pass.

The climate of Annapurna is a bit unpredictable. The climatic condition may bring difficulties at times. You should be well-equipped and Eveready to turn back if you see potential danger while crossing Thorung La (5416m).

Bad weather, massive snowfall, or storms can block the Thorung La Pass. You don’t want to challenge your life at that time. It’s wiser to return to the lodge.

Many trekkers might suffer from altitude sickness. The trekking trails might not be conventional for first-timers.

The high altitude of Annapurna may cause Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), which brings difficulties in trekking. Once you elevate 3,500m, you’ll probably find difficulties in breathing.

Conclusion

The killer mountain, Annapurna, is one of the deadliest mountains on earth. There have been several attempts in the past to conquer the summit but most of them have been unsuccessful.

Annapurna is a fascinating mountain, the beauty of which is spellbinding. You may be excited and eager to climb the majestic Annapurna, but don’t get distracted by its beauty and ignore the risks.

Some of the risks that you may encounter while on the expedition are mentioned above. Similarly, take a look at some precautions that you may take to reduce the risks. These precautions are not difficult. You just need to have patience and determination.

Annapurna has an alarming fatality ratio, that’s why beginners are not recommended to attempt it. The danger can be reduced if you take some precautions but most of the risks are unpredictable. So, you have to believe in yourself and go up against your luck to live the thrill.

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Suraj is a travel enthusiast who believes in finding solace in the heart of nature. He enjoys exploring new destinations, different culture, and encouraging people to travel.

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