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Nanga Parbat (literally, Naked Mountain ; is the ninth highest mountain in the world at 8,126 metres (26,660 ft) above sea level. It is the western anchor of the Himalayas around which the Indus river skirts into the plains of Pakistan. It is located

in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan and is locally known as 'Deo Mir'('Deo' meaning 'huge') ('mir' meaning 'mountain').

Nanga Parbat is one of the eight-thousanders, with a summit elevation of 8,126 metres (26,660 ft). An immense, dramatic peak rising far above its surrounding terrain, Nanga Parbat is also a notoriously difficult climb. Numerous mountaineering deaths in the mid and early 20th century lent it the nickname "killer mountain".

Location

Nanga Parbat forms the western anchor of the Himalayan Range and is the westernmost eight-thousander. It lies just south of the Indus River in the Diamer District of Gilgit–Baltistan in Pakistan. Not far to the north is the western end of the Karakoram range.

Notable features

Nanga Parbat has tremendous vertical relief over local terrain in all directions. To the south, Nanga Parbat boasts what is often referred to as the highest mountain face in the world: the Rupal Face rises 4,600 m (15,090 ft) above its base. To the north, the complex, somewhat more gently sloped Rakhiot Flank rises 7,000 m (22,966 ft) from the Indus River valley to the summit in just 25 km (16 mi), one of the 10 greatest elevation gains in so short a distance on Earth.

Nanga Parbat is one of only two peaks on Earth that rank in the top twenty of both the highest mountains in the world, and the most prominent peaks in the world, ranking ninth and fourteenth respectively. The other is Mount Everest, which is first on both lists. It is also the second most prominent peak of the Himalayas, after Mount Everest. The key col for Nanga Parbat is Zoji La in Kashmir, which connects it to higher peaks in the remaining Himalaya-Karakoram range.

Nanga Parbat along with Namcha Barwa on the Tibetan Plateau mark the west and east ends of the Himalayas.

Layout of the mountain

The core of Nanga Parbat is a long ridge trending southwest–northeast. The ridge is an enormous bulk of ice and rock. It has three faces, Diamir face, Rakhiot and Rupal. The southwestern portion of this main ridge is known as the Mazeno Wall, and has a number of subsidiary peaks. In the other direction, the main ridge arcs northeast at Rakhiot Peak (7,070 m / 23,196 ft). The south/southeast side of the mountain is dominated by the massive Rupal Face, noted above. The north/northwest side of the mountain, leading to the Indus, is more complex. It is split into the Diamir (west) face and the Rakhiot (north) face by a long ridge. There are a number of subsidiary summits, including North Peak (7,816 m / 25,643 ft) some 3 km north of the main summit. Near the base of the Rupal Face is a beautiful glacial lake called Latbo, above a seasonal shepherds' village of the same name.

Climbing history

Early attempts

Climbing attempts started very early on Nanga Parbat. In 1895 Albert F. Mummery led an expedition to the peak, and reached almost 6,100 m (20,000 ft) on the Diamir (West) Face, but Mummery and two Gurkha companions later died reconnoitering the Rakhiot Face.

In the 1930s, Nanga Parbat became the focus of German interest in the Himalayas. The German mountaineers were unable to attempt Mount Everest, as only the British had access to Tibet. Initially German efforts focused on Kanchenjunga, to which Paul Bauer led two expeditions in 1930 and 1931, but with its long ridges and steep faces Kanchenjunga was more difficult than Everest and neither expedition made much progress. K2 was known to be harder still, and its remoteness meant that even reaching its base would be a major undertaking. Nanga Parbat was therefore the highest mountain accessible to Germans and also deemed reasonably possible by climbers at the time.

The first German expedition to Nanga Parbat was led by Willy Merkl in 1932. It is sometimes referred to as a German-American expedition, as the eight climbers included Rand Herron, an American, and Fritz Wiessner, who would become an American citizen the following year. While the team were all strong climbers, none had Himalayan experience, and poor planning (particularly an inadequate number of porters), coupled with bad weather, prevented the team progressing far beyond the Rakhiot Peak northeast of the Nanga Parbat summit, reached by Peter Aschenbrenner and Herbert Kunigk, but they did establish the feasibility of a route via Rakhiot Peak and the main ridge.

Merkl led another expedition in 1934, which was better prepared and financed with the full backing of the new Nazi government. Early in the expedition Alfred Drexel died, probably of high altitude pulmonary edema. The Tyrolean climbers Peter Aschenbrenner and Erwin Schneider reached an estimated height of (7,895 m / 25,900 ft) on July 6, but were forced to return because of worsening weather. On July 7 they and 14 others were trapped by a ferocious storm at 7,480 m (24,540 ft). During the desperate retreat that followed, three famous German mountaineers, Uli Wieland, Willo Welzenbach and Merkl himself, and six Sherpas died of exhaustion, exposure and altitude sickness, and several more suffered severe frostbite. The last survivor to reach safety, Ang Tsering, did so having spent seven days battling through the storm. It has been said that the disaster, "for sheer protracted agony, has no parallel in climbing annals."

In 1937, Karl Wien led another expedition to the mountain, following the same route as Merkl's expeditions had done. Progress was made, but more slowly than before due to heavy snowfall. Some time around the 14th of June seven Germans and nine Sherpas, almost the entire team, were at Camp IV below Rakhiot Peak when it was overwhelmed by an avalanche. All sixteen men died instantly.

The Germans returned in 1938 led by Paul Bauer, but the expedition was plagued by bad weather, and Bauer, mindful of the previous disasters, ordered the party down before the Silver Saddle, halfway between Rakhiot Peak and Nanga Parbat summit, was reached. The following year a small four man expedition, including Heinrich Harrer, explored the Diamir Face with the aim of finding an easier route. They concluded that the face was a viable route, but the Second World War intervened and the four men were interned in Pakistan. Harrer's escape and subsequent travels became the subject of his book Seven Years in Tibet.

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