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Mountain Planet

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1 year ago

WORLD’S TOP 10 MOST CHALLENGING GUIDED CLIMBS AND HERE’S WHY

TOP 10 MOST CHALLENGING GUIDED TOURS

Since there appeared commercial tours to Mount K2, almost everyone knows which guided expedition should be the best of this ranking. But trust us - the other 9 peaks aren't less interesting. Take a moment to discover the top ten challenging guided climbs of the world.

What factors affect the complexity of guided climbs? You will say route complexity and mountain height, but there are many other factors. The Mountain Planet Project conducted a survey among the guides registered on mountainpalnet.com, and found out what factors affect the toughness of a guided climb:

  • Difficulty of the route: the more difficult a route is, the higher will be the requirements it imposes to climbers and guides in terms of skills, abilities and necessary equipment;
  • Mountain height: the higher the altitude is, the longer and more complex will be the acclimatization process, the fatigue on the climb and descent. It means risks are higher depending on height;
  • Complicated logistics: in some cases, in order to get to the beginning of the route, climbers have to face all sorts of obstacles such as mountain rivers, long distance approaches, broken glaciers and many others. Sometimes, in order to face these obstacles a helicopter may be needed. It means that any emergency situation may be followed by serious consequences, since rescue may take some time to reach the point;
  • The psychological factor: there are mountains and routes having in common such an "inaccessibility aura". The north wall of Mount Eiger and K2 are the most obvious examples. While climbing such routes, climbers are afraid to face the horrors they read about before. Fear binds the mind and increases mistake chances;
  • The difficulty of the descent route: experienced guides know that 90% of accidents occur during the descent. Fatigue, emotional exhaustion and lack of concentration always accompany you on the way back after a successful ascent. And if the descent route is very complicated, risk chances are higher;
  • Bad or unpredictable weather conditions: somewhere in the world there are mountain ranges where the weather is always nice and the sun is shining ... can you believe that? Of course, not. It is always hard to predict the weather in the mountains. But there are mountainous regions, where the weather is more difficult to predict. Mount Cook in New Zealand is an example of a mountain were weather is hard to predict. Pilots working in the Mount Cook area say that one of three forecasts are real and a sunny day can be replaced in a few hours by a hurricane storm;
  • Objective hazards on the route: Annapurna South Face is sadly known for its avalanches. Anatoli Boukreev who died in an avalanche on Annapurna on Christmas Day, was one of the outstanding high-altitude mountaineers of his day. Even his experience wasn't enough to avoid this tragedy. And do you know why? Because an avalanche on Annapurna South Face is an unpredictable factor and it can happen at any time and in any place. But there aren't only avalanches in the mountains, climbers may be subjected to rock falls, landslides, earthquakes, ice avalanches, you name it. Unfortunately, the objective dangers can't always be predicted, and therefore they are strongly influenced by the complexity of the guided expeditions;
  • Disadvantaged country situation:  this factor is rarely faced in the mountains, but all we remember how in 2013, at the base camp of Nanga Parbat local militants shot 10 sleeping climbers. Unfortunately, even such a rare case is enough to include this factor in our list.

Mountain Planet offered its members to rank the existing commercial climbs based on each of these factors from 1 to 10. On the basis of the survey, we created the world's top ten hardest guided climbs.

Let's take a look at world's TOP-10 toughest guided expeditions according to mountainplanet.com:

10. Nevado Huascarán (6 746 m / 22 133 ft)

  • Location: South America, Peru: Ancash;
  • Parent Range: Cordillera Blanca;
  • Average cost of a guided tour: $6 800 USD;

Huascaran Mountain Planet
The south summit of Huascaran is 91 meters higher than its (much less frequented) northern twin

Climbing Mount Huascaran is not considered technically difficult, but a serious height and the presence of areas that requiring climbing equipment, is worth a professionals’ attention. Huascaran height (as well as on equatorial latitudes) is perceived much easier than in northern or southern latitudes. This makes it easier for participants who don't have significant experience in high-altitude mountaineering. But you still need full acclimatization and a perfect rope and ice equipment techniques in your possession in order to climb Huascaran. The commercial expedition has a 9 days average duration. Difficulty of the route: 7/10. Unpredictable weather conditions: 7/10.

9. Eiger (3 970 m / 13 025 ft)

  • Location: Europe, Switzerland: Valais;
  • Parent Range: Bernese Alps;
  • Average cost of a guided tour: $3 700 USD;

At the beginning of the last century, climbing Eiger North Face was compared to suicide. Despite the relatively low height above sea level, Eiger North Face has a vertical 1,800 meters high gain and was climbed for the first time only in 1938 by the German-Austrian alpinist team. It happened after a series of unsuccessful attempts. By that time nine victims had already lost their lives. Since then, at least another 55 people were killed while trying to across the northern wall, but it doesn't stop the local guides from successfully selling these dangerous expeditions. The safest climbing seasons are considered to be spring and autumn, when the number of rock falls are reduced to the minimum due to low temperatures. The commercial expedition is a 2-day duration on average. Psychological factor: 10/10 points. Objective hazards on the route:  9/10 points.

8. Denali (6 195 m / 20 325 ft)

  • Location: North America, United States: Alaska;
  • Parent Range: Alaska Range;
  • Average cost of a guided tour: $7 900 USD;

Denali Mountain Planet
Denali summit ridge as sharp as a knife

The middle of May is best for climbing the peak of Denali, but even at this time of the year the temperature in the high camps reaches often minus 40 degrees Far. Denali is the only 6000-meter peak situated in such a high latitude. Storm winds from the Arctic Ocean often cover Alaska Range with prolonged bad weather. Despite all the difficulties, the Denali is listed in the most popular climbing destination because it is the highest peak in North America and part of the 7 Summits. The commercial expedition takes about 19 days on average to climb. Complicated weather conditions: 8 /10 points. Logistics difficulty: 7/10.

7. Pumori (7 161 m / 23 494 ft)

  • Location: Asia, China: Tibet Autonomous Region; Nepal: Eastern Region;
  • Parent Range: Mahalangur Himal;
  • Average cost of a guided tour: $12 000 USD;

Pumori means, in the Sherpa language "unmarried daughter". George Mallory named it and therefore climbers often call Pumori "Everest's daughter." At Pumori there are many routes, two of which are considered classics. The route of South East Ridge is the simplest of the existing ones, however, it is most dangerous in the post-monsoon period, as ice collapses off of the shoulder of the southeast ridge. Pumori is 7165 meters’ high and the average climbing time takes about 40 days. The reason is it takes almost 10 days to get to the beginning of the route. Objective hazards on the route: 7/10 points. Height of the mountain: 8/10 points. Average price of the commercial expedition: 12 000 USD.

6. Nevado Yerupajá (6 617 m / 21 709 ft)

  • Location: ISouth America, Peru: Ancash;
  • Parent Range: Cordillera Huayhuash;
  • Average cost of a guided tour: $7 200 USD;

Is the second highest point of Peru and the highest mountain in the Huayhuash Cordillera. Locals call the mountain ‘’El Carnicero’’, which means The Butcher. Perhaps the name is related to the peak shape, similar to a sharp knife, but it also reflects the number of climbers who died attempting to reach the summit. Yerupaja, is considered to be the most difficult of all the 6,500-meter peaks climbs. The climbing route is complicated by rocks, and the instability of the ice-snow makes it harder. Average price of a commercial expedition is 6500 USD. Difficulty of the route: 9/10. Unpredictable weather conditions: 7/10. Objective hazards on the route:  8/10 points.

5. Khan Tengri (7 010 m / 22 999 ft)

  • Location: Asia, Kazakhstan: Almaty Oblysy; Kyrgyzstan: Issyk-Kul’skaya Oblast’;
  • Parent Range: Tien Shan;
  • Average cost of a guided tour: $1 900 USD;

Khan Tengri is one of the most beautiful peaks of Tien Shan mountain range, located between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan borders. The pyramidal shape fascinates climbers with its pink and grey marble facade and has attracted people's attention since the ancient times. The conquest of this peak, which has a height of 7010 meters above sea level, is part of the «Snow Leopard» program. Khan Tengri is a proud and majestic mountain, which reserves a lot of dangerous surprises, such as avalanches, ice falls and unstable weather conditions for the climbers. The commercial expedition has a 21 days average duration. Complicated logistics: 8/10 points. Difficulty of the route during the descent: 8/10.

4. Ama Dablam (6 812 m / 22 349 ft)

  • Location: Asia, Nepal: Eastern Region;
  • Parent Range: Mahalangur Himal;
  • Average cost of a guided tour: $11 000 USD;

Ama Dablam Mountain Planet
Climber above Camp 2 at South-West Ridge, Ama Dablam

This peak has one of the most beautiful and recognizable profiles in the world. The Swiss Matterhorn is probably the only mountain that competes with it. But despite all its beauty, climbers aren't so interested in Ama Dablam, because of its route complexity. Moreover, there is a large number of easier mountains around attracting climbers’ attention. No more than 20 people climb Ama Dablam each season, and tourists prefer its view from afar away. Difficulty of the route during the descent: 9/10. Logistics difficulty: 7/10.

3. Ismoil Somoni Peak (7 495 m / 24 590 ft)

  • Location: Asia, Tajikistan;
  • Parent Range: Akademiya Nauk Range;
  • Average cost of a guided tour: $2 800 USD;

Somoni Mountain Planet
Ismoil Somoni Peak is the highest point of former USSR

Ismoil Somoni Peak is the highest peak in the territory of the former Soviet Union, located in the north-western part of the Pamirs. The peak was opened in 1928 and was called "Stalin Peak" until 1962. It then was renamed as the "Communism Peak." after Tajikistan independence in 1999. It was renamed as the " Ismoil Somoni Peak" in honor of the founder of the first (in the X century) Tajik State. Successful climbs, each season, do not exceed 20%. The high camp, situated at a 7000 meters’ altitude, only contributes to reduce this number. In order to reach the beginning of the route, climbers have to pass under overhanging ice, and actually playing "Russian roulette" with avalanches. The average duration of the commercial expedition is 23 days. Mountain height: 8 /10 points. Objective hazards of the route: 9 /10. Logistics difficulty: 8/10.

2. Mount Everest (8 848 m / 29 029 ft)

  • Location: Asia, Nepal: Central Region; China: Tibet Autonomous Region;
  • Parent Range: Himalaya;
  • Average cost of a guided tour: $55 000 USD;

Everest Mountain Planet
Climbers in front of the Third Step at 8750 meters 

When, in 1923, the legendary George Mallory was asked «Why did you want to climb Mount Everest? » - He said - «Because it's there! ». Such a reply can be given by many of the 2000 climbers who, each year, come to the Everest base camp hoping to climb the highest peak of our planet. Each day of the route costs an average $ 1,000 for a climber, and 60 days are required to reach the peak! Hollywood movies keep convincing the public that everyone can climb Mount Everest. Hollywood does not explain the health hazards climbers are exposed to, even if they complete the expedition successfully. Mountain height: 10/10 points. Unpredictable weather conditions: 10/10 points. Difficulty of the route: 9/10 points.

1. K2 (8 611 m / 28 251 ft)

  • Location: Asia, Pakistan: Gilgit-Baltistan; China: Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu;
  • Parent Range: Karakorum;
  • Average cost of a guided tour: $50 000 USD;

Yes, you are actually reading and not dreaming. You can really pay in order to climb the most inaccessible mountain of the world. However, this trip is only open to members with at least two previous 8 000-meter summits experience, one of which has to be Everest, but it's not a big deal, right? Moreover, this ascent will cost you about $5 000 USD less than Everest, but who counts...

If you need a detailed review of the mountains or connect with the outdoor guides and adventure seekers around the world, please register on mountainplanet.com. Mountain Planet is a geo-informational social network for the global Alpine Community, which provides information on 100000+ mountains and also routes condition. Join the Alpine Community online now and help us make mountains safer and more accessible for climbers by contributing secure information about routes, conditions and service providers.

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