The highest mountain on Earth that no one has ever climbed

The Gangkhar Puensum seen from the passage of Dochula / photo Wikimedia Commons

Everest and K2 see how every year many expeditions reach their summit. In fact the agglomeration of climbers in the Everest base camp is starting to be a major problem, just remember the catastrophe of the last Nepalese earthquake.

Of the 40 highest mountains in the world, only two remained unreached in 1985. Since 1992 only one remains, the Gangkhar Puensum. Located in Bhutan, it ranks 45th among the highest in the world (40th according to other sources) with a height of 7,570 meters. It is considered the highest mountain in the world that has never been climbed.

The reason it’ s never been crowned are several. Bhutan only allowed climbing between 1983 and 1994. And in 2004 it was completely banned at all the country’s summits because of religious beliefs.

There is the possibility of ascending from the Chinese side, as the mountain is located on the border between the two countries. However, they do not agree and the territorial dispute over the 269 square kilometers of territory that includes the northern facade of the mountain is still in dispute. China insists that the border runs through the summit, leaving half for each country. Bhutan claims the entire mountain.

Gangkhar Puensum Summit / photo Gradythebadger in Wikimedia Commons

During the decade when it was possible to ascend the Gangkhar Puensum from Bhutan, only four attempts were made, and all failed. From the Chinese side there was an attempt in 1998 by a Japanese expedition, but they were eventually denied permission because of the territorial dispute. They had to divert to a subsidiary summit, the Gangkhar Puensum North or Liankang Kangri, which rises 7,535 meters.

In spite of having been measured for the first time in 1922 the maps are usually quite inaccurate with respect to their situation and altitude. So much so that the first team that attempted the ascent was not even able to find it.

The Gangkhar Puensum seen from the pass of Gophu La / photo Gradythebadger in Wikimedia Commons

Of course today the Gangkhar Puensum is the dream of any professional mountaineer, the place where everyone would like to go. Not so much because of the difficulty of the ascent but because it is the last of the great summits that still awaits its heroes.