High up in the Himalayas, everything is bleak. And you will die unless you descend. Quickly. This is the case on most really tall and really cold mountains. Death is constantly a threat.
But the deadliest mountains on Earth aren't necessarily the ones that cause the most deaths. Mont Blanc, for instance, is a relatively pedestrian Alp that nets 100 deaths a year, but that's because a climber doesn't have to be experienced to attempt it—loads of people head on up there each year.
The real way to measure a mountain's deadliness is to divide the number of ascents by the number of fatalities. We used 2008 data for all the 8,000-meter (called: eight-thousand-ers) climbs—the classic criteria for the super-tall mountains. Why? The nickname for that 8,000+ meter is the "Death Zone." Well then. (Mount Everest, it may surprise you, is not at the top. Neither is K2.)
Height: 26,906 feet (sixth highest in the world) First Ascent: 1954 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 1% (39 deaths in 2,668 ascents) Though it's the sixth-highest, it's apparently pretty easy to climb—or at least not deadly. Its name means "Turquoise Goddess," but it is clearly white. Since it's one of the highest mountains that won't likely kill you if you're not making any mistakes, it's popular for guided tourist expeditions.
13. Gasherbrum II
Height: 26,362 feet (13th highest in the world) First Ascent: 1956 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 2% (19 deaths in 836 ascents) After having all their stuff buried by an avalanche at a lower camp, a pair of Austrians decided to throw caution to the wind and make a quick play for the top. They survived and became the first people to summit the peak.
Height: 27,940 feet (fourth highest in the world) First Ascent: 1956 Fatality to Summit Ratio: .03% (11 deaths in 321 ascents) Connected directly to Everest, Lhotse has a 3,690-foot wall of blue ice between the two, which sounds insanely difficult.
11. Broad Peak
Height: 26,414 feet (12th highest in the world) First Ascent: 1957 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 5% (19 deaths in 359 ascents) Five percent's becoming a little high. I'll pass on this one.
Height: 29,029 feet (highest in the world) First Ascent: 1953 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 6% (210 deaths in 3,684 ascents) People like to say that Everest is easy. Maybe, but it's a graveyard to plenty of experienced climbers and guides.
9. Shisha Pangma
Height: 26,362 feet (14th highest in the world) First Ascent: 1954 Fatality to Death Ratio: 8% (23 deaths in 274 ascents) This mountain claimed Alex Lowe, one of the greatest mountaineers of all time. He was trying to be part of the first trio of Americans to ski down an 8,000er. Yes, you read that correctly: ski down. People do this.
8. Gasherbrum I
Height: 26,509 feet (11th highest in the world) First Ascent: 1956 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 9% (25 deaths in 265 ascents) Seven of the people who have died on this massif have done so on the descent after reaching the top. Usually mountaineers won't risk pushing through if weather is inclement, but it can change in a flash.
Height: 27,838 feet (fifth highest in the world) First Ascent: 1955 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 11% (26 deaths in 234 ascents) In 2009, Makalu became the final 8,000er in Nepal to be climbed in winter—which is insanely dangerous, and not every mountain on this list has been accomplished in the winter.
Height: 26,795 feet (seventh highest in the world) First Ascent: 1960 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 16% (58 deaths in 358 ascents) Nobody has ever accomplished climbing the south face. Many attempts have put numerous people on the death list.
Height: 26,759 feet (eighth highest in the world) First Ascent: 1956 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 18% (53 deaths in 297 ascents) In 1954, climbers had to turn around when the people living there drove them away because they had "displeased the Gods" and were a cause of avalanches. Since the latter was probably very true, you can't really blame 'em here.
Height: 28,169 feet (third highest in the world) First Ascent: 1955 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 19% (40 deaths in 209 ascents) Until the mid-19th century, everyone just assumed this was the tallest mountain on Earth. Last May, five people summited and none returned.
3. Nanga Parbat
Height: 26,660 feet (ninth highest in the world) First Ascent: 1953 Fatalities to Deaths Ratio: 22% (64 deaths, 287 ascents) Another mountain that has never been climbed in winter, this one's nicknamed "Killer Mountain." Despite being insanely hard to climb as is, it turned deadly in a new way in 2013, when Taliban forces shot ten climbers to death at base camp.
Height: 28,251 feet (second highest in the world) First Ascent: 1954 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 23% (66 deaths in 284 ascents) This massive mountain is perhaps the world's most difficult. It's not usually climbed with oxygen because mountaineers have prioritized being lightweight, but people have been lugging tanks up in recent years. You know, to breathe.
Height: 26,545 feet (10th highest in the world) First Ascent: 1950 Fatality to Summit Ratio: 38% (58 deaths in 153 ascents) Interestingly the world's deadliest mountain has been climbed in winter and barely cracks the top 10. But the south face is one of the most difficult climbs of all time—since the 1990s, Kangchenjunga has been deadlier, but last month at least 43 people were killed in a snowstorm and avalanche, brought on by bad weather.
Ethan Wolff-Mann is an editor at Supercompressor. He's currently at around 200 feet above sea level.