If Mount Everest is the iconic goddess of mountains, then Meru in the Indian Himalayas is the unattainable, unknowable bad-ass rock star, beckoning to a chosen few from an impossibly remote place high in the sky. Unlike Everest, Meru isn’t famed for its legendary climbs and world records. New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary never attempted to climb it (if he did, he kept it a secret) and the mountaineers who rise to the challenge are not the type seeking personal glory. In fact, most people aren’t aware of its existence.

Meru is the most forbidding mountain in the Himalayas and the ascent to the peak, known as Shark’s Fin, is deemed one of the most difficult in the world. There are no guides and no rest stations — and most crucially, there are no sherpas to help guide and carry water and food. Death is a constant threat while scaling the near 90-degree cliff face in the midst of screeching wind and relentless snow.

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