The World’s 5 Tallest Peaks and How Dangerous They Are To Climb

Mike Lavery | ClimbingClimbing
Charlotte Fox
Mount Everest, pretty safe compared to K2. Photo: Wikipedia

Climbing big mountains is dangerous stuff. For most people, that’s just common sense (for others it’s not). Which of the world’s 5 tallest peaks is the deadliest?

K2 is the second highest peak on Earth but stands as the most dangerous to climb. An insane 23% of people who attempt K2 never make it back alive. That’s almost one in four! Less than 400 people have ever made it to the summit, and it was only skied for the first time this year.

Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak comes in second, with a 14% fatality rate out of only 283 attempts. Makalu, Everest, and Lhotse all have single digit death rates which seem low by comparison.

Even though Everest has only a 4% fatality rate, it sees by far the most climbing traffic. Almost as many people have died on Everest as have attempted each of the other 4 tallest peaks on Earth. Crazy!

K2, The deadliest. Photo: Seattle Times

Denali, the highest peak in the United States, has only a 0.3% fatality rate. Mount Rainier, another popular climb, kills only .04% of climbers. Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States, has claimed the lives of quite a few climbers, but there’s no official database recording fatalities on the mountain.

You don’t have to be a mountaineer to climb mountains. Just start small, be prepared, and stay safe.

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