Highest unclimbed mountain
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The highest unclimbed mountain in a particular region or in the world is often a matter of controversy. In some parts of the world surveying and mapping are still not reliable, and there are not comprehensive records of the routes of explorers, mountaineers and local inhabitants.
However, a major problem relates to the definition of a mountain. Any particular mountain, in addition to its highest point, will also have subsidiary "tops." Generally, a subjective view is taken of what is a mountain and what is a top. The horizontal distance between main peak and top, the difference in height, the topographic prominence of the top, as well as the general topography, all come into consideration. Although objective criteria have been proposed for distinguishing "peaks" from "tops" (a prominence of 610 m, 2,000 feet is one definition), there is no widely agreed standard.
The Peakware World Mountain Encyclopedia has a list of unclimbed 7000 m Himalayan peaks which includes tops. The list is somewhat out-of-date: for example Lhotse Middle, 8430 m, was first climbed in spring 2001. Another list is provided on the Explorersweb website using a prominence cutoff of 500 m.
The mountain most widely claimed to be the highest unclimbed mountain in the world in terms of elevation is Gangkhar Puensum, 7570 m (24,836 feet). It is in Bhutan, on or near the border with China. In Bhutan, the climbing of mountains higher than 6,000 metres has been prohibited since 1994. The rationale is based on a combination of (1) the Bhutanese government's respect for local customs that consider this and similar peaks to be the sacred homes of protective spirits and (2) the lack of high-altitude rescue resources from any locale closer than India. Since 2003, no mountaineering of any kind has been allowed within Bhutan.
Highest unclimbed non-prohibited peak
It is unclear which is the highest unclimbed non-prohibited mountain. This depends greatly on the prominence cutoff. Labuche Kang III/East (7250 m?, Prom=570 m?), near Cho Oyu, is reportedly unclimbed, but its status is hard to verify and it lacks significant prominence. The former highest unclimbed non-prohibited mountain, Saser Kangri II East (7,513 m, Prom=1,450 m), was first climbed on August 24, 2011.
Most prominent unclimbed peak
It is similarly troublesome to determine the most prominent unclimbed mountain. Finisterre Range HP (Prom. = 3,675 m), Sauyr Zhotasy (Prom. = 3,252 m) and Mount Siple (Prom. = 3,110 m) all have no record of successful ascents, but the status of each of these peaks is difficult to confirm. Coincidentally, Gangkhar Puensum (Prom. = 2,995 m) is perhaps the most prominent unclimbed mountain that has any reasonable degree of certainty regarding its unclimbed status.
- Simon Perritaz. "Highest Unclimbed Peaks". Peakware World Mountain Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 2008-05-06.
- Janne Corax (2007). "The pleasure of being the first". Explorersweb. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- First Ascent of Saser Kangri II - American Alpine Club