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Mt. Gangkhar Puensum on Tibetan/Bhutan Border Yet To Be Summited

Gangkhar Puensum, Bhutan

This impressive peak on the border of Tibet and Bhutan is the 40th-highest-mountain in the world and has yet to be summited. According to historical records, aspiring climbers of days past had trouble even locating the 24,280-foot mountain. Maps were pretty inaccurate for quite a long time, and even after people knew where it was, it still proved impossible to conquer between the cold and the wind and this one really, really steep ridge. In 1985, a team from Britain attempted the climb, but illness forced them back. In 1986, a monsoon stopped an Austrian climbing team.

In 1987, the government in Bhutan banned climbing Gangkhar Puensum because powerful spirits are said to inhabit the mountain’s peak. Some cite stories of strange lights, ghostly figures, magnetic anomalies, and even Yeti on the way up the allowed 6,000 meters from the top.

Undeterred by the rumors, a Japanese group of climbers got permission from the Chinese Mountaineering Association to climb the unclimbable mountain from the Tibetan approach. The Bhutanese side disputed this permission, and the group settled for climbing the peak near Gangkhar Puensum, known as Gangkhar Puensum North. Although that peak was also previously unclimbed, the climbers were a bit grumpy about the whole thing. Still, no one has gotten as close as they did, and it’s possible no one ever will.

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