Nanga Parbat: Ninth Highest Mountain in the World

Fast Facts About Climbing Nanga Parbat

Nanga Parbat
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 copyright Yasir Nisar/Getty Images

Nanga Parbat is the ninth highest mountain and the 14th most prominent mountain in the world. It has earned a nickname of "Killer Mountain" among climbers. The mountain lies at the western end of the Himalayan Range in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. It has three major faces, Diamir, Rakhiot, and Rupal.

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

Fast Facts: Nanga Parbat

  • 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 ascent by Hermann Buhl (Austria), July 3, 1953

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 percent of climbers dying on the mountain. By 2012, there were at least 68 climber deaths on Nanga Parbat.

1895: Mummery's Tragic Attempt

The first attempt to climb Nanga Parbat was in 1895 by Alfred Mummery's group, which reached an 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. It was the first complete solo ascent of the mountain as Herman Buhl only soloed the upper part of his route.

1984: First Female Ascent

In 1984 French climber Lilliane Barrard became the first woman to summit Nanga Parbat.

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 described this first ascent,"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."

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 10 climbers, including a Lithuanian, three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two Chinese, a Chinese-American, a Nepali, 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.