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Nanga Parbat: 9th Highest Mountain in the World

Fast Facts About Nanga Parbat


The Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat is one of the world's tallest alpine walls.

Nanga Parbat, 9th-highest mountain in the world, is also one of the most dangerous and difficult of the 8,000-meter peaks to successfully climb.

Photograph © Tom Powell/Getty Images
Elevation: 26,658 feet (8,125 meters)
Prominence: 15,118 feet (4,608 meters)
Location: Pakistan, Asia
Coordinates: 35.2375 N / 74.589167 W
First Ascent: Solo by Hermann Buhl (Austria), July 3, 1953

Fast Facts:

Nanga Parbat means "Naked Mountain" in Urdu. The name the locals call the peak is Diamir, which translates to "king of mountains."

9th Highest Mountain in World

Nanga Parbat is the 9th highest mountain and the 14th most prominent mountain in the world. The mountain lies at the western end of the Himalaya Range in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. It has three major faces--Diamir, Rakhiot, and Rupal.

Rupal Face: Highest in World

The Rupal Face on the mountain's southern flank is considered the world's highest mountain face, rising 15,090 feet (4,600 meters) from its base to the icy summit of Nanga Parbat. Albert Mummery described the wall: "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."

The Killer Mountain

Nanga Parbat is considered the second hardest 8,000-meter peak after K2, the second highest peak in the world, as well as one of the most dangerous. After 31 people died attempting to climb Nanga Parbat before it's 1953 first ascent, it was nicknamed the "Killer Mountain." Nanga Parbat is the third-most dangerous 8,000-meter peak with a death rate of 22.3% of climbers dying on the mountain. As of 2012 there are at least 68 climber deaths on Nanga Parbat.

1895: Mummery's Tragic Attempt

First attempt to climb Nanga Parbat was in 1895 by Alfred Mummery's group, which reached at elevation of 6,100 meters on the Diamir Face. Mummery and two Gurkha climbers died in an avalanche while doing a reconnaissance of the Rakhiot Face, ending the expedition.

1953: First Ascent Solo by Hermann Buhl

The first ascent of Nanga Parbat was a solo climb by the legendary Austrian climber Hermann Buhl on July 3, 1953. Buhl, after his companions turned back, reached the summit at seven o'clock in the evening and was forced to bivouac standing up on a narrow ledge, dozing fitfully with his hand clasping a lone handhold. After a calm windless night, he descended the next day without his ice axe, which he inadvertently left on the summit and with only one crampon, reaching high camp at seven in the evening after a 40-hour climb. Buhl also climbed without extra oxygen and is the only person to make the first ascent of an 8,000-meter peak solo. Buhl's route up the Rakhiot Flank or East Ridge has been repeated only once, in 1971 by Ivan Fiala and Michael Orolin.

1970: Tragedy on the Rupal Face

The towering Rupal Face was climbed by Italian Reinhold Messner, one of the greatest Himalayan climbers, and his brother Günther Messner in 1970, doing the third ascent of Nanga Parbat. While the pair was descending the back side of Nanga Parbat, Günther was killed in an avalanche. His remains were found on the Diamir Face in 2005.

Messner Solos Nanga Parbat

In 1978 Reinhold Messner, the first person to climb the Seven Summits solo-climbed the Diamir Face-the first complete solo ascent of the mountain since Herman Buhl only soloed the upper part of his route.

1984: First Female Ascent

In 1984 French climber Lilliane Barrard is the first woman to summit Nanga Parbet.

2005: Alpine Style on Rupal Face

In 2005, Americans Vince Anderson and Steve House climb the Central Pillar of the Rupal Face in five days and then took two days to descend. Their alpine-style ascent is one the boldest Himalayan ascents to date.

Steve House Quote from 2005

"Summit day was physically one of the hardest days I have ever had in the mountains. We had climbed for five days with very limited chance for recovery. Fortunately the weather was perfect. But I was not sure that we would succeed until we arrived just below the south summit at over 8,000 meters and could see the last easy meters to the top." Steve House on the first ascent of the Rupal Face Central Pillar in 2005.

2013: Terrorist Attack Kills 11

An attack on June 23, 2013 at Nanga Parbat's Base Camp by 15 to 20 Taliban terrorists dressed as Gilgit paramilitary officers killed ten climbers, including a Lithuanian, three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two Chinese, and a Chinese-American and Nepali as well as a Sherpa guide, and a Pakistani cook, totaling 11 victims. The militants came in the night, rousing the climbers from their tents, then tying them up, taking their money and shooting them.

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