The word Nepal in the title can be replaced with World, indeed Annapurna appears to be the deadliest mountain on the planet. Some reasons for this are discussed here.
Annapurna mountain is very deadly, and it seems this is because of the following main reasons, given in no particular order:
- Unpredictable climate and weather
- Avalanche risks.
- High winds in any seasons.
- Snowfall in any season.
- Technical challenges.
- Secluded position and huge area.
Some of these reasons are discussed in detail below n the text.
Some basics about Annapurna
Annapurna is the 10th highest mountain in the world, and it includes several peaks. The highest is Annapurna I (8091 m), but there are also Annapurna II (7937 m), Annapurna III (7555 m), Annapurna IV (7525 m), etc. So only Annapurna I is in the exclusive list of 8000ers that includes 14 mountains.
Did you know that Annapurna I mountain was the first 8000er climbed in the history? So indeed it was climbed by the French climbers Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal on 3rd June, 1950.
What is Annapurna fatality rate?
So this depends on the source you find, I have seen various numbers. In one source the fatality rate is 29%. They write that since 1900 there were 72 deaths in estimated 244 expeditions.
In yet another source I read that the fatality rate is 32%. In the same source this rate for K2 is 25% and for Nanga Parbat this is 22%.
However, on Wikipedia there is a statement that the fatality rate used to be 32% but it became under 20% for the period from 2012 to 2022. The latter was probably due to spring 2021 success when 68 climbers reached the summit successfully. No doubt this improved the statistics drastically.
I have seen also several other numbers, like 38%, 40% etc. So as you see, there is nothing completely certain here. But regardless of which number you take, it looks terrible.
Annapurna unpredictable climate and weather
Mountains are notorious for their unpredictable weather. But in the case of Annapurna there is something more. The reasons may be due to the fact that it is much deeper in the continent and more to the north than Everest for example.
You can see it in the interactive map below. In any case, you can expect severe snow storms and gale force winds.
This is related to unpredictable weather that changes snow conditions suddenly and the results are numerous and frequent avalanches.
There was one big in 2014 when many people were reported missing, more in this article. Here is a video from Annapurna with an avalanche, most likely from the same event:
Winds and snowfalls on Annapurna
Here are some graphs from Meteoblue, this is for Annapurna Base Camp and this is from their simulated climate and weather. The first graph shows the Annapurna Base wind speed per month.
Below you can see one more graph related to the winds. It shows predominant direction of the wind and also how many hours per year the wind blows from the indicated direction. As example, the prevalent NNW winds are expected almost 3000 hours per year.
The graph below from the same source shows a precipitation diagram for Annapurna Base Camp. Yellow are dry days and blue are days with snow, and this is for all months in a year.
As you see, in spite of the statements of an unpredictable weather and climate, from this simulation there still seems to be some regularities.
So using such data may mean the difference between life and death. I think people should be grateful to Meteoblue for providing these graphs.
This includes many things that are common for such high mountains. But in the case of Annapurna it is also about steep and long trails. The mountain is cold and covered with snow throughout the year. High speed winds do not help either.
In monsoon season the lower trails are also very slippery. In winter time there is lots of snow. You have to face crevasses, sharp ridges, seracs.
Secluded position & huge area
This is a range that measures around 50 kilometers, and it includes one 8000er, thirteen 7000ers, and sixteen 6000ers. There are fewer options to get help, and local people are less involved in the climbing business as compared to Everest.
In summary, climbing Annapurna is tough for both geographical and climatic reasons, some of them are described above. Let me know if you think I have missed mentioning something important.
For more texts of this type please check in the category Mountaineering. Check my text on how long you can survive without oxygen on Everest. Thank you for reading and have a nice day.