If you’re an experienced climber and absolutely sure you’ve got what it takes, then maybe, just maybe you can conquer these 11 most difficult mountains to climb in US. We aren’t kidding here. Some of these have got a notorious reputation for climbers ending up dead in abyss.
Unless someone possesses the natural admiration and love for mountain terrains, it can be very hard to explain to the others your hobby. Why would anyone spend hours or days just to climb on top of a rock and take a few photos? Hours of toil for a 5-minute pleasure? Surely you can’t stay there for hours, can you? Not that it’s a very pleasant stay either – usually the winds are blowing and freezing you to the bone (or death). Still, it is the feeling and adrenaline that push you forward. Perhaps not everyone will understand why you indulge yourself so much in the stunning view, but the majority could grasp your sense of the danger. The thrill, the excitement you feel while overcoming all kinds of obstacles. Because these mountains are no piece of cake, despite the frosting on the top.
As an experienced climber, you’ve already met with all kinds of questions about your demanding hobby. Usually, people wish to know which is the hardest mountain to climb, and by that they mean the one involving death-defying rock climbing. For the US, that would be the Jumbo Love route on Clark Mountain, California. When discussing what is the hardest climb in the world, that would undoubtedly be Annapurna, in Nepal, of course. Usually, a mountain takes a few days to climb, but for Annapurna, we’re talking 40-50 days. It’s not the highest peak, but the climb is incredibly dangerous. There’s a 40% fatality rate due to severe conditions. Nature giants with similar features are K2, Kangchenjunga (also in the Himalaya), Baintha Brakk (Pakistan), and Mount Everest, too. While we’re mentioning Baintha Brakk, or the Ogre as it is commonly known, it must be mentioned the mountain has only been climbed three times (!). Normally the answer to what mountain has never been climbed is another one which is now strictly forbidden for climbers for religious reasons, but you can read about that and best mountain to climb for beginners in our article about the easiest mountains to climb in USA. You’ll see there are lots of non technical mountain climbs there which you could recommend to your friends.
So let’s continue the discussion about American mountains ranges and what the 10 hardest mountains to climb are. Or are we? If you were observant enough, you’ve noticed the figure we’d mentioned is 11. You’d better be good at noticing details high up there. These are hardest mountains to climb in the lower 48, with the addition of a couple spreading outside these borders. All in all, we researched the whole of the US territory. We found the most challenging mountain climbs at Joe Dorish Weather, Matador Network, and Adventure Blog. Discussing the difficulty of climbing and creating one criterion for ranking is… well, difficult. One thought that crossed our mind was to rank them on death tolls. One of them is known to have been the place of at least 400 deaths. Feeling the chills yet? However, not all mountains have the same starting point for collecting the fatalities’ records, so we gave it up. Instead, we opted for something much more pleasant to read about: the elevation gain. Each mountain has several factors contributing to its climbing difficulty: the terrain, the weather conditions, the equipment needed… Sometimes you don’t need that much equipment, but the changeable weather can make a difference between life and death. Therefore, the mountains are ranked according to the highest elevation gains which we also found at AllTrails, Section Hiker, 14ers, and Haleakala National Park. After all, great changes in height influence your stability and resistance to vertigo (don’t you need it).
Without further ado, here are 11 most difficult mountains to climb in US, together with the descriptions of their trails and reasons why so many people fail to reach to the top. To help you imagine the experience, we added videos for each mountain.
11. Mount Washington, South Gully, Huntington Ravine Route
Location: New Hampshire
Altitude: 6,288 feet
Elevation gain: 4,300 feet
Time required: 1-2 days
It has to be admitted that Mount Katahdin, Maine, lost its place to Mount Washington for only 100 feet. Still, fair is fair. Mount Washington is a hard one to climb. Roughly speaking, some 135 people have died on it since 1849. Wonder why? Hypothermia, falls, drownings, avalanches, ice falls, natural causes and even skiing accidents. The weather is extremely harsh here (231 miles-per-hour winds), so always make sure you’re well-informed about the forecast for your climb.
Let’s see what else we have on our list of most difficult mountains to climb in US, shall we?