Nanga Parbat is one of the tallest and most dangerous peaks in the world. There have not been many people who have successfully ascended Nanga Parbat to this day. Likewise, the death rate of this mountain is just as high. There are a lot of things that a mountaineer has to know about Nanga Parbat before trying to ascend it.
Hence, we have compiled everything that one needs to know about Nanga Parbat if he or she wants to climb it in this article. Make sure you read till the end to know how many people have climbed Nanga Parbat, the difficulties of climbing the peak, and the deaths that have taken place on the mountain till now.
How many people have climbed Nanga Parbat?
Four hundred mountaineers have climbed Nanga Parbat to this day. However, the number of attempts to climb this mountain is much higher. Nanga Parbat is possibly one of the most dangerous mountains. The death rate in the area has already exceeded to above 20%.
Moreover, the 400 mountaineers are the only ones successful throughout the past many decades. There have been many tragedies in the area, and many mountaineers have even been reported to have been lost in the wilderness of Nanga Parbat.
Early attempts people to climb Nanga Parbat
Nanga Parbat has not been the easiest to climb for many. A lot of people had failed and reached so close yet were not able to summit the heights of the tall and mighty mountain.
Some of the earliest recorded expeditions to the Nanga Parbat happen to be the ones done by experienced and trained mountaineers from Germany. In the 1930s, these German mountaineers could not climb Mount Everest and K2 due to several restrictions and difficulties. Hence, the only possible 8000-er for them to climb happened to be in Pakistan, which was the Nanga Parbat.
These mountaineers were unaware of the weather conditions and did not prepare for the peak. As a result, the German mountaineers did not succeed in summiting the Nanga Parbat. Willy Merkl led the first German expedition in 1932. This expedition is known as the German-American expedition, as there were both German and American citizens on the team. The mount climbers were quite experienced, but they did not plan well before they went to Nanga Parbat. They had to face extreme weather conditions and a threatening environment while ascending. Hence, only two mountaineers could reach Rakhiot Peak northeast of the Nanga Parbat summit. Even they could not go beyond Rakhiot Peak due to the circumstances above.
Unfortunately, in 1934, a group of climbers with ten people led by Alfred Drexel died on the spot due to unfavorable conditions at the peak. The leader himself passed away due to high-altitude pulmonary edema. Likewise, Peter Aschenbrenner and Erwin Schneider reached the height of 7,900 m (25,900 ft) but to no avail. The duo had to return from this height after the weather worsened. These climbers, along with all the other climbers on the team, died due to frostbite, suffocation, exposure, and altitude sickness. This included both international climbers and Sherpas.
In 1937, a team of seven Germans and nine Sherpas led by Karl Wien went on an expedition to Nanga Parbat. The team, including 16 mountaineers, was at Camp IV below Rakhiot Peak when an avalanche attacked them. There were no survivors after this accident. All the 16 men were found dead. The search team found their tents buried in ice and snow; nothing had escaped from the grip of the accidental avalanche. Besides this, a person in the rescue team found a diary of one of the German climbers in which he found a page that said, “Our situation here is not quite safe from avalanches.”
Another failed attempt was made a year later, in 1938, by a team led by Paul Bauer. He did not, however, let his team exceed their travel beyond Rakhiot Peak as he kept in mind the incidents and tragedies that had taken place in the past. The team returned to the base camp without attempting to go further of fear of the Silver Saddle.
In 1939, Heinrich Harrer was selected by the German Himalayan Foundation for the expedition to Nanga Parbat. Harrer was a mountaineer who happened to be a member of the SS Alpine unit. Peter Aufschnaiter led the expedition. They were searching for a new and best possible route in their journey. They went through the north-western face and explored the Diamir face. This was labeled as the best and most convenient route.
The British later interned them after World War in Dehradun. Harrer writes about his escape through the Tibetan Himalayan plateaus in his book Seven Years in Tibet. Some bits and pieces of the expedition have been kept in the National Archives of Washington, D.C.
Nanga Parbat’s first successful ascent
The first successful ascent of the Nanga Parbat took place in the year 1953. Legendary mount climber Hermann Buhl became the first to lead a team to the highest point of the mountain via the Rakhiot Flank (East Ridge). While the rest of the team gave up after a certain climb, Buhl was the only person who along went up to the height of 1,300 meters (4,300 ft). He made history for his team and his country on this day.
Buhl’s descent was just as difficult. He did not have a proper place to spend his night, which led him to bivouac standing upright. The mountaineer was yet again lucky enough not to have been the victim of any unfortunate circumstances. He reached the high camp 40 hours after starting his climb. The success of Buhl’s climb and legacy has been shown in a documentary by Hans Ertl. Ertl was also a part of the expedition.
Canadian film director Donald Shebib also showed the journey in his 1986 film The Climb.
Nanga Parbat Winter Expedition
Winter expeditions are hard to accomplish, especially in the world’s most dangerous peaks. However, a team became successful in the first winter expedition of Nanga Parbat on February 26, 2016. The team included Ali Sadpara, Alex Txikon, and Simone Moro.
Likewise, the second winter expedition took place on January 25, 2018, with a team of Polish climber Tomasz Mackiewicz and Frenchwoman Élisabeth Revol.
Though not successful, there have been several attempts in trying to climb the Nanga Parbat in the years 1988/89, 1990/91, 1996/97, 1997/98, 2004/05, 2006/07,2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2017/18, and 2018/19.