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Why Is Nanga Parbat Called the Killer Mountain?

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Amara is a blogger and a writer. She loves traveling, adventures, and exploring new places.

Nanga Parbat, the killer mountain.

Nanga Parbat, the killer mountain.

Nanga Parbat in the Himalayan Mountain Range

Nanga Parbat is the ninth-highest mountain on earth and the westernmost major peak of the Himalayas, located southeast of the northernmost bend of the Indus River in Pakistan-administered Kashmir's Gilgit-Baltistan region. It is 8,126 metres (26,660 ft) above sea level.

  • Height: 8,126 m (26,660 ft)
  • Location: Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan
  • Parent Range: Himalayas
  • First Ascent: 3 July, 1953 by Hermann Buhl
  • Easiest Route: Western Diamer District

How Did Nanga Parbat Get Its Nickname?

Nanga Parbat is commonly known as "the Killer Mountain" due to its high fatality rate. The mountain has a daunting ascent, and even in the summer months, it is imperiled by unstable glaciers, avalanches, and ferocious storms.

In terms of technical difficulty, the mountain competes with K2. The climbing route of the first ascent is followed by a single narrow ridge to the summit. On the southern side, the 15,000 ft Rupal face is the largest mountain face in the world, which is a huge single wall of rock and ice.

“Nanga Parbat is even long and difficult under normal summer conditions. Now imagine putting short days, very high winds, and low temperatures on top [and] you can roughly imagine what we talking about.”

— David Gottler

First Ascent

At least 31 people died before the first incredible ascent in 1953, completed without the aid of oxygen by the legendary Austrian alpinist Hermann Buhl.

After a year, Reinhold Messner, a 58-years old Italian member of the European Parliament, became the first and only climber to reach the summit via the perilous Rupal Flank.

This ascent nearly killed him. He lost seven toes and several fingertips in this attempt, and most precious of all, his brother Gunther.

Nanga Parbat Base Camp

A trek to Nanga Parbat's base camp is a grand adventure in the Himalayan region, which has become a popular destination for trekkers and mountaineering enthusiasts from all over the world.

Nanga Parbat's base camp is located only four hours away from Fairy Meadows and is accessible even to non-experienced trekkers. Fairy Meadows is a beautiful, lush green area that offers a striking view of Nanga Parbat. It is considered the base to plan and organise treks to the base camp.

“Nanga is like an island surrounded by way lower peaks and is really exposed to high winds and the weather in general. Due to that, it has very short good weather windows. Also, it is just one of the mountains with the biggest elevation gain between base camp and summit.”

— David Gottler

Three faces of Nanga Parbat.

Three faces of Nanga Parbat.

Mountain Faces

Nanga Parbat has three main faces, with three long ridges dividing them.

1. The Diamir (West Face)

The Diamir, or the West Face, is the most accessible and popular face attempted by teams. It is considered the easiest and safest route along with the Kinshofer Route, also known as the normal route.

2. The Rupal (South Face)

Very few people attempt to climb the huge Rupal, or the South Face, which is a steep wall of rock and ice. To this date, there have been only five ascents from the south face.

3. The Rakhiot (North Face)

The Rakhiot, or the North Face, has seen occasional attempts over the decades, with only two routes. The snowy north face is equally intimidating as the south face, with broad barriers of seracs, which extend the width of the mountain.

“The astounding difficulties of the southern face may be realized by the fact that the gigantic rock-ridges, the dangers of the hanging glacier and the steep ice of the north-west face—one of the most terrifying faces of a mountain I have ever seen—are preferable to the south face.”

— Albert Mummery

Nanga Parbat climbing routes.

Nanga Parbat climbing routes.

Climbing Routes

These three vast mountain faces have three climbing ridges:

  1. The Mazeno Ridge divides the Diamir and Rupal faces. It is the most difficult ascent to the summit and is known as the longest ridge in the world.
  2. A long ridge between the Rupal and Rakhiot faces descends to Siberzacken, and then to Rakhiot and the Chongra Peaks.
  3. A third ridge between the Diamir and Rakhiot faces descends a short distance from the main summit peak, to Nanga Parbat North, and then continues to descend to Ganalo Peak.

Some Fun Facts About the Mountain

  • The literal meaning of Nanga Parbat is "the naked mountain."
  • It is considered the second hardest 8,000 metre peak after K2.
  • In 1953, after 31 people died attempting to climb the peak before its first ascent, it was nicknamed "the Killer Mountain."
  • In 1954, Lilliane Barrard became the first woman to successfully climb the mountain.
  • The mountain is also called "the western anchor of the Himalayas."
  • It has a 22.3% death ratio, making it the third most dangerous mountain peak in the world.
  • Nanga Parbat is the second most prominent peak in the Himalayas, after Mount Everest.
  • The first successful winter ascent was made on July 3, 2016, by Ali Sadpara, Simone Moro, and Alex Txikon.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Amara