Mount Everest, known in Nepali as Sagarmāthā and in Tibetan as
Chomolungma, is Earth's highest mountain above sea level, located in
Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. The international
Tibet Autonomous Region) and
Nepal (Province No.
1) runs across its summit point.
The current official elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft),
China and Nepal, was established by a 1955 Indian survey
and subsequently confirmed by a Chinese survey in 1975. In 2005,
China remeasured the rock height of the mountain, with a result of
8844.43 m. There followed an argument between
Nepal as to
whether the official height should be the rock height (8,844 m.,
China) or the snow height (8,848 m., Nepal). In 2010, an agreement was
reached by both sides that the height of
Everest is 8,848 m, and Nepal
recognises China's claim that the rock height of
Everest is 8,844
Everest was given its official English name by the Royal
Geographical Society, upon a recommendation by Andrew Waugh, the
British Surveyor General of India. As there appeared to be several
different local names, Waugh chose to name the mountain after his
predecessor in the post, Sir George Everest, despite George Everest's
Everest attracts many climbers, some of them highly experienced
mountaineers. There are two main climbing routes, one approaching the
summit from the southeast in
Nepal (known as the "standard route") and
the other from the north in Tibet. While not posing substantial
technical climbing challenges on the standard route,
dangers such as altitude sickness, weather, and wind, as well as
significant hazards from avalanches and the
Khumbu Icefall. As of
2017[update], nearly 300 people have died on Everest, many of whose
bodies remain on the mountain.
The first recorded efforts to reach Everest's summit were made by
British mountaineers. As
Nepal did not allow foreigners into the
country at the time, the British made several attempts on the north
ridge route from the Tibetan side. After the first reconnaissance
expedition by the British in 1921 reached 7,000 m
(22,970 ft) on the North Col, the 1922 expedition pushed the
north ridge route up to 8,320 m (27,300 ft), marking the
first time a human had climbed above 8,000 m (26,247 ft).
Seven porters were killed in an avalanche on the descent from the
North Col. The 1924 expedition resulted in one of the greatest
Everest to this day:
George Mallory and Andrew Irvine
made a final summit attempt on 8 June but never returned, sparking
debate as to whether or not they were the first to reach the top. They
had been spotted high on the mountain that day but disappeared in the
clouds, never to be seen again, until Mallory's body was found in 1999
at 8,155 m (26,755 ft) on the north face.
Tenzing Norgay and
Edmund Hillary made the first official ascent of
Everest in 1953,
using the southeast ridge route. Tenzing had reached 8,595 m
(28,199 ft) the previous year as a member of the 1952 Swiss
expedition. The Chinese mountaineering team of Wang Fuzhou, Gonpo, and
Qu Yinhua made the first reported ascent of the peak from the north
ridge on 25 May 1960.
2 Early surveys
6 Flora and fauna
8 History of expeditions
8.2 Early attempts
8.3 First successful ascent by Tenzing and Hillary
8.4 1970 disaster
8.5 1979/1980: Winter Himalaism
8.6 1996 disaster
8.7 2006 mountaineering season
8.7.1 David Sharp ethics controversy
8.7.2 Lincoln Hall rescue
8.9 Ascent statistics up to 2010 season
8.10 2012 and 2013 events
8.11 2014 avalanche and season
8.12 2015 avalanche, earthquake, season
8.12.1 Mountain re-opens in August 2015
8.13 2016 season
8.13.1 Rescues and fatalities
8.14 2017 season
9.2.1 Southeast ridge
9.2.2 North ridge route
9.4 Death zone
9.5 Supplemental oxygen
9.6 Autumn climbing
9.7 Selected climbing records
9.8 Summiting with disabilities
Everest and aviation
10.1 1988: First climb and glide
10.2 1991: Hot air balloon flyover
10.3 2005: Pilot summits
Everest with helicopter
10.4 2011 Paraglide off summit
10.5 2014: Helicopter-assisted ascent
10.6 2016: Helicopter business increases
11 Financial cost of guided climbs
12 Commercial climbing
12.1 Law and order
13 2014 Sherpa strike
14 Extreme sports at Mount Everest
Everest and religion
16 Waste management
18 Context and maps
20 See also
22 Further reading
23 External links
The history of this area[clarification needed] dates back to 800 BCE,
when the ancient Kirati had their
Kirata Kingdom in the Himalayan
mountains . The Mahalangur range of the Himalaya is also known as
Kirat area of eastern Nepal.
Location on Earth
In 1715, the
Qing Empire surveyed the mountain while mapping its
territory and depicted it as Mount Qomolangma no later than 1719.
Everest relief map
In 1802, the British began the
Great Trigonometric Survey
Great Trigonometric Survey of
fix the locations, heights, and names of the world's highest
mountains. Starting in southern India, the survey teams moved
northward using giant theodolites, each weighing 500 kg
(1,100 lb) and requiring 12 men to carry, to measure heights as
accurately as possible. They reached the Himalayan foothills by the
Nepal was unwilling to allow the British to enter the
country due to suspicions of political aggression and possible
annexation. Several requests by the surveyors to enter
The British were forced to continue their observations from Terai, a
region south of
Nepal which is parallel to the Himalayas. Conditions
Terai were difficult because of torrential rains and malaria. Three
survey officers died from malaria while two others had to retire
because of failing health.
Nonetheless, in 1847, the British continued the survey and began
detailed observations of the Himalayan peaks from observation stations
up to 240 km (150 mi) distant. Weather restricted work to
the last three months of the year. In November 1847, Andrew Waugh, the
Surveyor General of India made several observations from the
Sawajpore station at the east end of the Himalayas.
then considered the highest peak in the world, and with interest he
noted a peak beyond it, about 230 km (140 mi) away. John
Armstrong, one of Waugh's subordinates, also saw the peak from a site
farther west and called it peak "b". Waugh would later write that the
observations indicated that peak "b" was higher than Kangchenjunga,
but given the great distance of the observations, closer observations
were required for verification. The following year, Waugh sent a
survey official back to
Terai to make closer observations of peak "b",
but clouds thwarted his attempts.
In 1849, Waugh dispatched James Nicolson to the area, who made two
observations from Jirol, 190 km (120 mi) away. Nicolson then
took the largest theodolite and headed east, obtaining over 30
observations from five different locations, with the closest being
174 km (108 mi) from the peak.
Nicolson retreated to
Patna on the
Ganges to perform the necessary
calculations based on his observations. His raw data gave an average
height of 9,200 m (30,200 ft) for peak "b", but this did not
consider light refraction, which distorts heights. However, the number
clearly indicated that peak "b" was higher than Kangchenjunga.
Nicolson contracted malaria and was forced to return home without
finishing his calculations. Michael Hennessy, one of Waugh's
assistants, had begun designating peaks based on Roman numerals, with
Kangchenjunga named Peak IX. Peak "b" now became known as
In 1852, stationed at the survey headquarters in Dehradun, Radhanath
Sikdar, an Indian mathematician and surveyor from Bengal, was the
first to identify
Everest as the world's highest peak, using
trigonometric calculations based on Nicolson's measurements. An
official announcement that Peak XV was the highest was delayed
for several years as the calculations were repeatedly verified. Waugh
began work on Nicolson's data in 1854, and along with his staff spent
almost two years working on the numbers, having to deal with the
problems of light refraction, barometric pressure, and temperature
over the vast distances of the observations. Finally, in March 1856 he
announced his findings in a letter to his deputy in Calcutta.
Kangchenjunga was declared to be 8,582 m (28,156 ft), while
Peak XV was given the height of 8,840 m (29,002 ft).
Waugh concluded that Peak XV was "most probably the highest in
the world". Peak XV (measured in feet) was calculated to be
exactly 29,000 ft (8,839.2 m) high, but was publicly
declared to be 29,002 ft (8,839.8 m) in order to avoid the
impression that an exact height of 29,000 feet (8,839.2 m) was
nothing more than a rounded estimate. Waugh is sometimes playfully
credited with being "the first person to put two feet on top of Mount
The name "Mount Everest" was first proposed in this 1856 speech, later
published in 1857, in which the mountain was first confirmed as the
While the survey wanted to preserve local names if possible (e.g.,
Kangchenjunga and Dhaulagiri), Waugh argued that he could not find any
commonly used local name. Waugh's search for a local name was hampered
Nepal and Tibet's exclusion of foreigners. Many local names
existed, including "Deodungha" ("Holy Mountain") in Darjeeling and
the Tibetan "Chomolungma", which appeared on a 1733 map published in
Paris by the French geographer D'Anville. In the late 19th century,
many European cartographers incorrectly believed that a native name
for the mountain was Gaurishankar, a mountain between
Waugh argued that because there were many local names, it would be
difficult to favour one name over all others, so he decided that Peak
XV should be named after Welsh surveyor Sir George Everest, his
predecessor as Surveyor General of India.
opposed the name suggested by Waugh and told the Royal Geographical
Society in 1857 that "Everest" could not be written in
pronounced by "the native of India". Waugh's proposed name prevailed
despite the objections, and in 1865, the Royal Geographical Society
officially adopted Mount
Everest as the name for the highest mountain
in the world. The modern pronunciation of
ˈɛvər-/) is different from Sir George's pronunciation of his
surname (/ˈiːvrɪst/ EEV-rist).
The Tibetan name for Mount
(IPA: [t͡ɕʰòmòlɑ́ŋmɑ̀],
lit. "Holy Mother"), whose official
Tibetan pinyin form is
Qomolangma. It is also popularly romanised as Chomolungma and (in
Wylie) as Jo-mo-glang-ma or Jomo Langma. The official Chinese
transcription is 珠穆朗玛峰 (t 珠穆朗瑪峰), whose
pinyin form is Zhūmùlǎngmǎ Fēng. It is also infrequently simply
translated into Chinese as Shèngmǔ Fēng (t 聖母峰,
s 圣母峰, lit. "Holy Mother Peak"). In 2002, the Chinese
People's Daily newspaper published an article making a case against
the use of "Mount Everest" in English, insisting that the mountain
should be referred to as Mount "Qomolangma", based on the official
form of the local Tibetan name. The article argued that British
colonialists did not "first discover" the mountain, as it had been
known to the Tibetans and mapped by the Chinese as "Qomolangma" since
at least 1719.
In the early 1960s, the Nepalese government coined a Nepali name for
Mount Everest, Sagarmāthā or Sagar-Matha
Published by the Survey of Nepal, this is Map 50 of the 57 map set at
1:50,000 scale "attached to the main text on the First Joint
Inspection Survey, 1979–80, Nepal-
China border." At the top centre,
a boundary line, identified as separating "China" and "Nepal", passes
through the summit contour. The boundary here and for much of the
Nepal border follows the main Himalayan watershed divide.
Kangshung Face (the east face) as seen from orbit
The 8,848 m (29,029 ft) height given is officially
Nepal and China, although
Nepal plans a new
In 1856, Andrew Waugh announced
Everest (then known as Peak XV) as
8,840 m (29,002 ft) high, after several years of
calculations based on observations made by the Great Trigonometric
The elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft) was first determined by
an Indian survey in 1955, made closer to the mountain, also using
theodolites. It was subsequently reaffirmed by a 1975
Chinese measurement of 8,848.13 m (29,029.30 ft). In
both cases the snow cap, not the rock head, was measured. In May 1999
Everest Expedition, directed by Bradford Washburn,
anchored a GPS unit into the highest bedrock. A rock head elevation of
8,850 m (29,035 ft), and a snow/ice elevation 1 m
(3 ft) higher, were obtained via this device. Although it has
not been officially recognised by Nepal, this figure is widely
Geoid uncertainty casts doubt upon the accuracy claimed by
both the 1999 and 2005 surveys.
A detailed photogrammetric map (at a scale of 1:50,000) of the Khumbu
region, including the south side of Mount Everest, was made by Erwin
Schneider as part of the 1955 International Himalayan Expedition,
which also attempted Lhotse. An even more detailed topographic map of
Everest area was made in the late-1980s under the direction of
Bradford Washburn, using extensive aerial photography.
On 9 October 2005, after several months of measurement and
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Chinese Academy of Sciences and State Bureau of
Surveying and Mapping officially announced the height of
8,844.43 m (29,017.16 ft) with accuracy of ±0.21 m
(8.3 in). They claimed it was the most accurate and precise
measurement to date. This height is based on the highest point of
rock and not the snow and ice covering it. The Chinese team also
measured a snow-ice depth of 3.5 m (11 ft), which is in
agreement with a net elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft). The
snow and ice thickness varies over time, making a definitive height of
the snow cap impossible to determine.
It is thought that the plate tectonics of the area are adding to the
height and moving the summit northeastwards. Two accounts suggest the
rates of change are 4 mm (0.16 in) per year (upwards) and 3
to 6 mm (0.12 to 0.24 in) per year (northeastwards),
but another account mentions more lateral movement (27 mm or
1.1 in), and even shrinkage has been suggested.
The summit of
Everest is the point at which earth's surface reaches
the greatest distance above sea level. Several other mountains are
sometimes claimed to be the "tallest mountains on earth".
Mauna Kea in
Hawaii is tallest when measured from its base; it rises over
10,200 m (33,464.6 ft) when measured from its base on the
mid-ocean floor, but only attains 4,205 m (13,796 ft) above
By the same measure of base to summit, Denali, in Alaska, also known
as Mount McKinley, is taller than
Everest as well. Despite its
height above sea level of only 6,190 m (20,308 ft), Denali
sits atop a sloping plain with elevations from 300 to 900 m (980
to 2,950 ft), yielding a height above base in the range of 5,300
to 5,900 m (17,400 to 19,400 ft); a commonly quoted figure
is 5,600 m (18,400 ft). By comparison, reasonable
base elevations for
Everest range from 4,200 m (13,800 ft)
on the south side to 5,200 m (17,100 ft) on the Tibetan
Plateau, yielding a height above base in the range of 3,650 to
4,650 m (11,980 to 15,260 ft).
The summit of Chimborazo in Ecuador is 2,168 m (7,113 ft)
farther from earth's centre (6,384.4 km (3,967.1 mi)) than
Everest (6,382.3 km (3,965.8 mi)), because the earth
bulges at the equator. This is despite Chimborazo having a peak
6,268 m (20,564.3 ft) above sea level versus Mount Everest's
8,848 m (29,028.9 ft).
The second highest mountain, K2
Dhaulagiri, shown here, was thought to be highest before Kanchenjunga
Everest were measured
Kanchenjunga, now determined to be third highest, took over from
Dhaulagiri, and in turn surpassed by Everest
Everest with snow melted, showing upper geologic layers in
Geologists have subdivided the rocks comprising Mount
three units called formations. Each formation is separated
from the other by low-angle faults, called detachments, along which
they have been thrust southward over each other. From the summit of
Everest to its base these rock units are the Qomolangma
North Col Formation, and the Rongbuk Formation.
The Qomolangma Formation, also known as the Jolmo Lungama Formation or
Everest Formation, runs from the summit to the top of the
Yellow Band, about 8,600 m (28,200 ft) above sea level. It
consists of greyish to dark grey or white, parallel laminated and
Ordovician limestone inter layered with subordinate beds of
recrystallised dolomite with argillaceous laminae and siltstone.
Gansser first reported finding microscopic fragments of crinoids in
this limestone. Later petrographic analysis of samples of the
limestone from near the summit revealed them to be composed of
carbonate pellets and finely fragmented remains of trilobites,
crinoids, and ostracods. Other samples were so badly sheared and
recrystallised that their original constituents could not be
determined. A thick, white-weathering thrombolite bed that is
60 m (200 ft) thick comprises the foot of the "Third Step",
and base of the summit-pyramid of Everest. This bed, which crops out
starting about 70 m (230 ft) below the summit of Mount
Everest, consists of sediments trapped, bound, and cemented by the
biofilms of micro-organisms, especially cyanobacteria, in shallow
marine waters. The Qomolangma Formation is broken up by several
high-angle faults that terminate at the low angle normal fault, the
Qomolangma Detachment. This detachment separates it from the
underlying Yellow Band. The lower five metres of the Qomolangma
Formation overlying this detachment are very highly
The bulk of Mount Everest, between 7,000 and 8,600 m (23,000 and
28,200 ft), consists of the
North Col Formation, of which the
Yellow Band forms its upper part between 8,200 to 8,600 m (26,900
to 28,200 ft). The
Yellow Band consists of intercalated beds of
Cambrian diopside-epidote-bearing marble, which weathers a
distinctive yellowish brown, and muscovite-biotite phyllite and
semischist. Petrographic analysis of marble collected from about
8,300 m (27,200 ft) found it to consist as much as five
percent of the ghosts of recrystallised crinoid ossicles. The upper
five metres of the
Yellow Band lying adjacent to the Qomolangma
Detachment is badly deformed. A 5–40 cm (2.0–15.7 in)
thick fault breccia separates it from the overlying Qomolangma
The remainder of the
North Col Formation, exposed between 7,000 to
8,200 m (23,000 to 26,900 ft) on Mount Everest, consists of
interlayered and deformed schist, phyllite, and minor marble. Between
7,600 and 8,200 m (24,900 and 26,900 ft), the North Col
Formation consists chiefly of biotite-quartz phyllite and
chlorite-biotite phyllite intercalated with minor amounts of
biotite-sericite-quartz schist. Between 7,000 and 7,600 m (23,000
and 24,900 ft), the lower part of the
North Col Formation
consists of biotite-quartz schist intercalated with epidote-quartz
schist, biotite-calcite-quartz schist, and thin layers of quartzose
marble. These metamorphic rocks appear to be the result of the
metamorphism of Middle to Early
Cambrian deep sea flysch composed of
interbedded, mudstone, shale, clayey sandstone, calcareous sandstone,
graywacke, and sandy limestone. The base of the
North Col Formation is
a regional low-angle normal fault called the "Lhotse
Below 7,000 m (23,000 ft), the Rongbuk Formation underlies
North Col Formation and forms the base of Mount Everest. It
consists of sillimanite-
K-feldspar grade schist and gneiss intruded by
numerous sills and dikes of leucogranite ranging in thickness from
1 cm to 1,500 m (0.4 in to 4,900 ft).
These leucogranites are part of a belt of Late Oligocene–Miocene
intrusive rocks known as the Higher Himalayan leucogranite. They
formed as the result of partial melting of
Ordovician high-grade metasedimentary rocks of the Higher Himalayan
Sequence about 20 to 24 million years ago during the subduction of the
Everest consists of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that have
been faulted southward over continental crust composed of Archean
granulites of the Indian Plate during the Cenozoic collision of India
with Asia. Current interpretations argue that the
North Col formations consist of marine sediments that
accumulated within the continental shelf of the northern passive
continental margin of
India before it collided with Asia. The Cenozoic
India with Asia subsequently deformed and metamorphosed
these strata as it thrust them southward and upward. The
Rongbuk Formation consists of a sequence of high-grade metamorphic and
granitic rocks that were derived from the alteration of high-grade
metasedimentary rocks. During the collision of
India with Asia, these
rocks were thrust downward and to the north as they were overridden by
other strata; heated, metamorphosed, and partially melted at depths of
over 15 to 20 kilometres (9.3 to 12.4 mi) below sea level; and
then forced upward to surface by thrusting towards the south between
two major detachments. The
Himalayas are rising by about 5 mm
Flora and fauna
A yak at around 4790 m (15,715 ft)
There is very little native flora or fauna on Everest. A moss grows at
6,480 metres (21,260 ft) on Mount Everest. It may be the
highest altitude plant species. An alpine cushion plant called
Arenaria is known to grow below 5,500 metres (18,000 ft) in the
Euophrys omnisuperstes, a minute black jumping spider, has been found
at elevations as high as 6,700 metres (22,000 ft), possibly
making it the highest confirmed non-microscopic permanent resident on
Earth. It lurks in crevices and may feed on frozen insects that have
been blown there by the wind. There is a high likelihood of
microscopic life at even higher altitudes.
Birds, such as the bar-headed goose, have been seen flying at the
higher altitudes of the mountain, while others, such as the chough,
have been spotted as high as the
South Col at 7,920 metres
(25,980 ft). Yellow-billed choughs have been seen as high as
7,900 metres (26,000 ft) and bar-headed geese migrate over the
Himalayas. In 1953, George Lowe (part of the expedition of Tenzing
and Hillary) said that he saw bar-headed geese flying over Everest's
Yaks are often used to haul gear for Mount
Everest climbs. They can
haul 100 kg (220 pounds), have thick fur and large lungs. One
common piece of advice for those in the
Everest region is to be on
higher ground when around yaks and other animals, as they can knock
people off the mountain if standing on the downhill edge of a
trail. Other animals in the region include the Himalayan tahr
which is sometimes eaten by the snow leopard. The Himalayan black
bear can be found up to about 4,300 metres (14,000 ft) and the
red panda is also present in the region. One expedition found a
surprising range of species in the region including a pika and ten new
species of ants.
Atmospheric pressure comparison
Olympus Mons summit
Hellas Planitia bottom
Earth sea level
Dead Sea level
Surface of Venus
In 2008, a new weather station at about 8,000 m altitude (26,246 feet)
went online. The station's first data in May 2008 were air
temperature −17 °C (1 °F), relative humidity 41.3
percent, atmospheric pressure 382.1 hPa (38.21 kPa), wind direction
262.8°, wind speed 12.8 m/s (28.6 mph, 46.1 km/h),
global solar radiation 711.9 watts/m2, solar UVA radiation 30.4
W/m2. The project was orchestrated by Stations at High Altitude
for Research on the Environment (SHARE), which also placed the Mount
Everest webcam in 2011. The solar-powered weather station is
on the South Col.
Lhotse from the south. In the foreground are Thamserku,
Kantega, and Ama Dablam
One of the issues facing climbers is the frequent presence of
high-speed winds. The peak of Mount
Everest extends into the upper
troposphere and penetrates the stratosphere, which can expose it
to the fast and freezing winds of the jet stream. In February 2004
a wind speed of 280 km/h (175 mph) was recorded at the
summit and winds over 160 km/h (100 mph) are common.
These winds can blow climbers off Everest. Climbers typically aim for
a 7- to 10-day window in the spring and fall when the Asian monsoon
season is either starting up or ending and the winds are lighter. The
air pressure at the summit is about one-third what it is at sea level,
and by Bernoulli's principle, the winds can lower the pressure
further, causing an additional 14 percent reduction in oxygen to
climbers. The reduction in oxygen availability comes from the
reduced overall pressure, not a reduction in the ratio of oxygen to
In the summer, the Indian monsoon brings warm wet air from the Indian
Ocean to Everest's south side. During the winter the west-southwest
flowing jet stream shifts south and blows on the peak.
History of expeditions
Climbers below the Geneva Spur
Reunion of the 1953 British team
Everest is the highest mountain in the world, it has
attracted considerable attention and climbing attempts. A set of
climbing routes has been established over several decades of climbing
expeditions to the mountain. Whether the mountain was climbed in
ancient times is unknown. It may have been climbed in 1924.
Everest's first known summitting occurred by 1953, and interest by
climbers increased. Despite the effort and attention poured into
expeditions, only about 200 people had summitted by 1987. Everest
remained a difficult climb for decades, even for serious attempts by
professional climbers and large national expeditions, which were the
norm until the commercial era began in the 1990s.
By March 2012,
Everest had been climbed 5,656 times with 223
deaths. Although lower mountains have longer or steeper climbs,
Everest is so high the jet stream can hit it. Climbers can be faced
with winds beyond 320 km/h (200 mph) when the weather
shifts. At certain times of the year the jet stream shifts north,
providing periods of relative calm at the mountain. Other dangers
include blizzards and avalanches.
The Himalayan Database recorded 6,871 summits by 4,042
In 1885, Clinton Thomas Dent, president of the Alpine Club, suggested
that climbing Mount
Everest was possible in his book Above the Snow
The northern approach to the mountain was discovered by George Mallory
Guy Bullock on the initial 1921 British Reconnaissance Expedition.
It was an exploratory expedition not equipped for a serious attempt to
climb the mountain. With Mallory leading (and thus becoming the first
European to set foot on Everest's flanks) they climbed the North Col
to an altitude of 7,005 metres (22,982 ft). From there, Mallory
espied a route to the top, but the party was unprepared for the great
task of climbing any further and descended.
The British returned for a 1922 expedition. George Finch climbed using
oxygen for the first time. He ascended at a remarkable speed—290
metres (951 ft) per hour, and reached an altitude of 8,320 m
(27,300 ft), the first time a human reported to climb higher than
8,000 m. Mallory and Col. Felix Norton made a second unsuccessful
attempt. Mallory was faulted for leading a group down
North Col which got caught in an avalanche. Mallory was
pulled down too, but survived. Seven native porters were killed.
The next expedition was in 1924. The initial attempt by Mallory and
Geoffrey Bruce was aborted when weather conditions prevented the
establishment of Camp VI. The next attempt was that of Norton and
Somervell, who climbed without oxygen and in perfect weather,
traversing the North Face into the Great Couloir. Norton managed to
reach 8,550 m (28,050 ft), though he ascended only 30 m
(98 ft) or so in the last hour. Mallory rustled up oxygen
equipment for a last-ditch effort. He chose young Andrew Irvine as his
On 8 June 1924,
George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made an attempt on
the summit via the North Col-North Ridge-Northeast Ridge route from
which they never returned. On 1 May 1999, the Mallory and Irvine
Research Expedition found Mallory's body on the North Face in a snow
basin below and to the west of the traditional site of Camp VI.
Controversy has raged in the mountaineering community whether one or
both of them reached the summit 29 years before the confirmed
ascent and safe descent of
Everest by Sir
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing
Norgay in 1953.
In 1933, Lady Houston, a British millionairess, funded the Houston
Everest Flight of 1933, which saw a formation of aircraft led by the
Marquess of Clydesdale fly over the summit in an effort to deploy the
Union Flag at the top.
Early expeditions—such as General Charles Bruce's in the 1920s and
Hugh Ruttledge's two unsuccessful attempts in 1933 and 1936—tried to
ascend the mountain from Tibet, via the North Face. Access was closed
from the north to Western expeditions in 1950, after
control of Tibet. In 1950,
Bill Tilman and a small party which
included Charles Houston, Oscar Houston, and Betsy Cowles undertook an
exploratory expedition to
Nepal along the route which
has now become the standard approach to
Everest from the south.
The Swiss Expedition of 1952, led by Edouard Wyss-Dunant, was granted
permission to attempt a climb from Nepal. The expedition established a
route through the
Khumbu icefall and ascended to the
South Col at an
elevation of 7,986 m (26,201 ft). No attempt at an ascent of
Everest was ever under consideration in this case. Raymond Lambert
Tenzing Norgay were able to reach an elevation of about
8,595 m (28,199 ft) on the southeast ridge, setting a new
climbing altitude record. Tenzing's experience was useful when he was
hired to be part of the British expedition in 1953.
First successful ascent by Tenzing and Hillary
Main article: 1953 British Mount
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
In 1953, a ninth British expedition, led by John Hunt, returned to
Nepal. Hunt selected two climbing pairs to attempt to reach the
summit. The first pair,
Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, came within
100 m (330 ft) of the summit on 26 May 1953, but turned back
after running into oxygen problems. As planned, their work in route
finding and breaking trail and their oxygen caches were of great aid
to the following pair. Two days later, the expedition made its second
and final assault on the summit with its second climbing pair, the New
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali sherpa climber
from Darjeeling, India. They reached the summit at 11:30 local time on
29 May 1953 via the
South Col route. At the time, both acknowledged it
as a team effort by the whole expedition, but Tenzing revealed a few
years later that Hillary had put his foot on the summit first.
They paused at the summit to take photographs and buried a few sweets
and a small cross in the snow before descending.
News of the expedition's success reached London on the morning of
Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, 2 June. Returning to
Kathmandu a few
days later, Hunt (a Briton) and Hillary (a New Zealander) discovered
that they had been promptly knighted in the Order of the British
Empire for the ascent. Tenzing, a Nepali Sherpa who was a citizen
of India, was granted the
George Medal by the UK. Hunt was ultimately
made a life peer in Britain, while Hillary became a founding member of
the Order of New Zealand. Hillary and Tenzing are also recognised
in Nepal, where annual ceremonies in schools and offices celebrate
their accomplishment.
The next successful ascent was on 23 May 1956 by Ernst Schmied and
Juerg Marmet. This was followed by Dölf Reist and Hans-Rudolf von
Gunten on 24 May 1957. Wang Fuzhou, Gonpo and Qu Yinhua of China
made the first reported ascent of the peak from the North Ridge on 25
May 1960. The first American to climb Everest, Jim Whittaker,
joined by Nawang Gombu, reached the summit on 1 May 1963.
See also: 1970 Mount
In 1970 Japanese mountaineers conducted a major expedition. The
centrepiece was a large "siege"-style expedition led by Saburo
Matsukata, working on finding a new route up the southwest face.
Another element of the expedition was an attempt to ski Mount
Everest. Despite a staff of over one hundred people and a decade
of planning work, the expedition suffered eight deaths and failed to
summit via the planned routes. However, Japanese expeditions did
enjoy some successes. For example,
Yuichiro Miura became the first man
to ski down
Everest from the
South Col (he descended nearly 4,200
vertical feet from the
South Col before falling with extreme
injuries). Another success was an expedition that put four on the
summit via the
South Col route. Miura's exploits became
the subject of film, and he went on to become the oldest person to
Everest in 2003 at age 70 and again in 2013 at the age of
In 1975, Junko Tabei, a Japanese woman, became the first woman to
summit Mount Everest.
1979/1980: Winter Himalaism
Confirmation of the summit obtained by the Nepalese Ministry of
The Polish climber
Andrzej Zawada headed the first winter ascent of
Mt. Everest, the first winter ascent of an eight-thousander. The team
of 20 Polish climbers and 4 Sherpas established a Base Camp on Khumbu
Glacier in the beginning of January, 1980. 15th of January, the team
managed to set up Camp III at 7150 meters above sea level, but further
action was stopped by the hurricane winds. The weather improved after
11st of February, when camp IV on
South Col (7906 m a.s.l.) was set up
by Leszek Cichy, Walenty Fiut and Krzysztof Wielicki. The final ascent
started at 17th February 6:50 AM by Cichy and Wielicki. At 2:40 PM
Andrzej Zawada at base camp heard the climbers voice through the radio
- "We are on the summit! Strong wind blows all the time. It is
unimaginably cold." . The successful winter ascent
Everest started a new decade of Winter Himalasim, which became
a Polish specialisation. After 1980 Poles did ten first winter ascents
on 8000 metre peaks, which earned Polish climbers a reputation of "Ice
Main article: 1996 Mount
On 11 May 1996 eight climbers died after several expeditions were
caught in a blizzard high up on the mountain. During the 1996 season,
15 people died while climbing on Mount Everest. These were the highest
death tolls for a single event, and for a single season, until the
sixteen deaths in the 2014 Mount
Everest avalanche. The disaster
gained wide publicity and raised questions about the commercialisation
of climbing Mount Everest.
Journalist Jon Krakauer, on assignment from Outside magazine, was in
one of the affected parties, and afterwards published the bestseller
Into Thin Air, which related his experience. Anatoli Boukreev, a guide
who felt impugned by Krakauer's book, co-authored a rebuttal book
called The Climb. The dispute sparked a debate within the climbing
In May 2004, Kent Moore, a physicist, and John L. Semple, a surgeon,
both researchers from the University of Toronto, told New Scientist
magazine that an analysis of weather conditions on 11 May suggested
that freak weather caused oxygen levels to plunge approximately 14
One of the survivors was Beck Weathers, an American client of New
Zealand-based guide service Adventure Consultants. Weathers was left
for dead about 275 metres (900 feet) from Camp 4 at 7,950 metres
(26,085 feet). After spending a night on the mountain, Weathers
managed to find his way to Camp 4 with massive frostbite and vision
impaired due to snow blindness. When he arrived at Camp 4, fellow
climbers considered his condition terminal and left him in a tent to
Before leaving Camp 4
Jon Krakauer heard Weathers calling for help
from his tent. Weathers' condition had not improved and an immediate
descent to a lower elevation was deemed essential. A helicopter
rescue was considered but was out of the question: Camp 4 was higher
than the rated ceiling of any available helicopter and in any case
would be extraordinarily dangerous. Eventually a rescue was organised
thanks to a lieutenant colonel of the Nepalese Army who conducted the
second-highest known helicopter medical evacuation up to that
The storm's impact on climbers on the North Ridge of Everest, where
several climbers also died, was detailed in a first-hand account by
British filmmaker and writer
Matt Dickinson in his book The Other Side
of Everest. 16-year-old Mark Pfetzer was on the climb and wrote about
it in his account, Within Reach: My
The 2015 feature film Everest, directed by Baltasar Kormákur, is
based on the events of this disaster.
2006 mountaineering season
Tuk Bahadur Thapa Masa
Lhotse face fatality
Small avalanche on Everest, 2006
In 2006 12 people died. One death in particular (see below) triggered
an international debate and years of discussion about climbing
ethics. The season was also remembered for the rescue of Lincoln
Hall who had been left by his climbing team and declared dead, but was
later discovered alive and survived being helped off the mountain.
David Sharp ethics controversy
There was an international controversy about the death of a solo
British climber David Sharp, who attempted to climb Mount
2006 but died in his attempt. The story broke out of the
mountaineering community into popular media, with a snow-balling
series of interviews, allegations, critiques, and peace-making. The
question was whether climbers that season had left a man to die, and
whether he could have been saved. He was said to have attempted to
Everest by himself with no Sherpa or guide and fewer
oxygen bottles than considered normal. He went with a low-budget
Nepali guide firm that only provides support up to Base Camp, after
which climbers go as a "loose group", offering a high degree of
independence. The manager at Sharp's guide support said Sharp did not
take enough oxygen for his summit attempt and did not have a Sherpa
guide. It is less clear who knew Sharp was in trouble, and if
they did know, whether they were qualified or capable of helping
Mark Inglis said in an interview with the press
on 23 May 2006, that his climbing party, and many others, had passed
Sharp, on 15 May, sheltering under a rock overhang 450 metres
(1,480 ft) below the summit, without attempting a rescue.
Inglis said 40 people had passed by Sharp, but he might have been
overlooked as climbers assumed Sharp was the corpse nicknamed "Green
Boots", but Inglis was not aware that Turkish climbers had tried
to help Sharp despite being in the process of helping an injured woman
down (a Turkish woman named Burçak Poçan). There has also been some
Himex in the commentary on Inglis and Sharp. In
regards to Inglis's initial comments, he later revised certain details
because he had been interviewed while he was "...physically and
mentally exhausted, and in a lot of pain. He had suffered severe
frostbite — he later had five fingertips amputated." When they went
through Sharp's possessions they found a receipt for $7,490USD,
believed to be the whole financial cost. Comparatively, most
expeditions are between $35,000 to $100,000USD plus an additional
$20,000 in other expenses that range from gear to bonuses. It was
estimated on 14 May that Sharp summitted Mount
Everest and began his
descent down, but 15 May he was in trouble but being passed by
climbers on their way up and down. On 15 May 2006 it is believed
he was suffering from hypoxia, and was about 1,000 feet from the
summit on the North Side route.
"Dawa from Arun Treks also gave oxygen to David and tried to help him
move, repeatedly, for perhaps an hour. But he could not get David to
stand alone or even stand resting on his shoulders, and crying, Dawa
had to leave him too. Even with two Sherpas it was not going to be
possible to get David down the tricky sections below."
— Jamie McGuiness 
Some climbers who left him said that the rescue efforts would have
been useless and only have caused more deaths. Beck
Weathers of the
1996 Mount Everest disaster
1996 Mount Everest disaster said that those who are
dying are often left behind, and that he himself had been left for
dead twice but was able to keep walking. The Tribune of India
quoted someone who described what happened to Sharp as "the most
shameful act in the history of mountaineering". In addition to
Sharp's death, at least nine other climbers perished that year,
including multiple Sherpas working for various guiding companies.
"You are never on your own. There are climbers everywhere."
— David Sharp
Much of this controversy was captured by the
Discovery Channel while
filming the television program Everest: Beyond the Limit. A crucial
decision affecting the fate of Sharp is shown in the program, where an
early returning climber Lebanese adventurer
Maxim Chaya is descending
from the summit and radios to his base camp manager (Russell Brice)
that he has found a frostbitten and unconscious climber in distress.
Chaya is unable to identify Sharp, who had chosen to climb solo
without any support and so did not identify himself to other climbers.
The base camp manager assumes that Sharp is part of a group that has
already calculated that they must abandon him, and informs his lone
climber that there is no chance of him being able to help Sharp by
himself. As Sharp's condition deteriorates through the day and other
descending climbers pass him, his opportunities for rescue diminish:
his legs and feet curl from frostbite, preventing him from walking;
the later descending climbers are lower on oxygen and lack the
strength to offer aid; time runs out for any Sherpas to return and
David Sharp's body remained just below the summit on the Chinese side
next to "Green Boots"; they shared a space in a small rock cave that
was an ad hoc tomb for them. Sharp's body was removed from the
cave in 2007, according to the BBC, and since 2014, Green Boots
has been missing, presumably removed or buried.
Lincoln Hall rescue
As the Sharp debate kicked off, on 26 May 2006 Australian climber
Lincoln Hall was found alive, after being left for dead the day
before. He was found by a party of four climbers (Dan Mazur,
Andrew Brash, Myles Osborne and Jangbu Sherpa) who, giving up their
own summit attempt, stayed with Hall and descended with him and a
party of 11 Sherpas sent up to carry him down. Hall later fully
recovered. His team assumed he had died from cerebral edema, and they
were instructed to cover him with rocks. There were no rocks
around to do this and he was abandoned. The erroneous information
of his death was passed on to his family. The next day he was
discovered by another party alive.
I was shocked to see a guy without gloves, hat, oxygen bottles or
sleeping bag at sunrise at 28,200-feet height, just sitting up there.
— Dan Mazur
Lincoln greeted his fellow mountaineers with this:
I imagine you are surprised to see me here.
— Lincoln Hall
Lincoln Hall went on to live for several more years, often giving
talks about his near-death experience and rescue, before dying from
medical issues in 2012 at the age of 56 (born in 1955).
Similar heroic rescue actions have been recorded since Hall, including
on 21 May 2007, when Canadian climber Meagan McGrath initiated the
successful high-altitude rescue of Nepali Usha Bista. Recognising her
heroic rescue, Major Meagan McGrath was selected as a 2011 recipient
of the Sir
Edmund Hillary Foundation of
Canada Humanitarian Award,
which recognises a Canadian who has personally or administratively
contributed a significant service or act in the Himalayan Region of
Ascent statistics up to 2010 season
Ascents of Mount
Everest by year through 2010
The sun rising on
Everest in 2011
By the end of the 2010 climbing season, there had been 5,104 ascents
to the summit by about 3,142 individuals, with 77% of these ascents
being accomplished since 2000. The summit was achieved in 7 of
the 22 years from 1953 to 1974, and was not missed between 1975 and
2014. In 2007, the record number of 633 ascents was recorded, by
350 climbers and 253 sherpas.
A remarkable illustration of the explosion of popularity of
provided by the numbers of daily ascents. Analysis of the 1996 Mount
Everest disaster shows that part of the blame was on the bottleneck
caused by the large number of climbers (33 to 36) attempting to summit
on the same day; this was considered unusually high at the time. By
comparison, on 23 May 2010, the summit of Mount
Everest was reached by
169 climbers – more summits in a single day than in the cumulative
31 years from the first successful summit in 1953 through 1983.
There have been 219 fatalities recorded on Mount
Everest from the 1922
Everest Expedition through the end of 2010, a rate of
4.3 fatalities for every 100 summits (this is a general rate, and
includes fatalities amongst support climbers, those who turned back
before the peak, those who died en route to the peak and those who
died while descending from the peak). Of the 219 fatalities, 58
(26.5%) were climbers who had summited but did not complete their
descent. Though the rate of fatalities has decreased since the
year 2000 (1.4 fatalities for every 100 summits, with 3938 summits
since 2000), the significant increase in the total number of climbers
still means 54 fatalities since 2000: 33 on the northeast ridge, 17 on
the southeast ridge, 2 on the southwest face, and 2 on the north
Nearly all attempts at the summit are done using one of the two main
routes. The traffic seen by each route varies from year to year. In
2005–07, more than half of all climbers elected to use the more
challenging, but cheaper northeast route. In 2008, the northeast route
was closed by the Chinese government for the entire climbing season,
and the only people able to reach the summit from the north that year
were athletes responsible for carrying the Olympic torch for the 2008
Summer Olympics. The route was closed to foreigners once again in
2009 in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's
exile. These closures led to declining interest in the north
route, and, in 2010, two-thirds of the climbers reached the summit
from the south.
2012 and 2013 events
Main articles: Mount
Everest in 2012 and Mount
Everest in 2013
Selfie on the summit, 2012
Years in review summary
2014 avalanche and season
Main article: 2014 Mount
Mount Everest, 2014
On 18 April 2014, an avalanche hit the area just below the Base Camp 2
at around 01:00 UTC (06:30 local time) and at an elevation of about
5,900 metres (19,400 ft). Sixteen people were killed in the
avalanche (all Nepalese guides) and nine more were injured. This
was not the only tragedy in the region, with over 43 killed in the
Nepal snowstorm disaster, and they were not even summiting but
rather trekking the Annapurna Circuit.
One positive outcome of the season was a 13-year-old girl, Malavath
Purna, reaching the summit, breaking the record for youngest
female. Additionally, one team used a helicopter to fly from
south base camp to Camp 2 to avoid the
Khumbu Icefall, then reached
Everest summit. This team had to use the south side because the
Chinese had denied them a permit to climb.
Nepal turned Chinese
reluctance into a success for the country, with the executive donating
tens of thousands of dollars to local hospitals and achieving a new
hybrid aviation-mountaineering technique. She was named the Nepalese
"International Mountaineer of the Year".
The location of the fatal ice avalanche on the 2014 route, and the
revised 2015 route through the Khumbu.
Over 100 people summited
Tibet region), and six
Nepal in the 2014 season. This included 72-year-old Bill
Burke, the Indian teenage girl, and a Chinese woman Jing Wang.
Another teen girl summiter was
Ming Kipa Sherpa who summited with her
Lhakpa Sherpa in 2003, and who had achieved the most
times for woman to the summit of Mount
Everest at that time. (see
also Santosh Yadav)
2015 avalanche, earthquake, season
Main article: 2015 Mount
Everest, April 2015
2015 was set to be a record-breaking season of climbs, with hundreds
of permits issued in
Nepal and many additional permits in Tibet
(China). However, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on 25 April 2015
effectively shut down the
Everest climbing season. 2015 was the
first time since 1974 with no spring summits, as all climbing teams
pulled out after the quakes and avalanche.
One of the reasons for this was the high probability of aftershocks
(over 50 percent according to the USGS). Just weeks after the
first quake, the region was rattled again by a 7.3 magnitude quake and
there were also many considerable aftershocks.
On 25 April 2015, an earthquake measuring 7.8 Mw triggered an
avalanche that hit
Everest Base Camp. Eighteen bodies were
recovered from Mount
Everest by the Indian Army mountaineering
team. The avalanche began on Pumori, moved through the
Khumbu Icefall on the southwest side of Mount Everest, and slammed
into the South Base Camp.
The quakes trapped hundreds of climbers above the
Khumbu icefall, and
they had to be evacuated by helicopter as they ran low on
supplies. The quake shifted the route through the ice fall,
making it essentially impassable to climbers. Bad weather also
made helicopter evacuation difficult. The
Everest tragedy was
small compared the impact overall on Nepal, with almost nine thousand
dead and about 22 thousand injured. In Tibet, by 28
April at least 25 had died, and 117 were injured. By 29 April
Mountaineering Association (North/Chinese side) closed
Everest and other peaks to climbing, stranding 25 teams and about 300
people on the north side of Everest. On the south side,
helicopters evacuated 180 people trapped at Camps 1 and 2.
Mountain re-opens in August 2015
On 24 August 2015
Everest to tourism including
mountain climbers. The only climber permit for the autumn season
was awarded to Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki, who had tried four
times previously to summit
Everest without success. He made his fifth
attempt in October, but had to give up just 700 m (2,300 ft)
from the summit due to "strong winds and deep snow". Kurki
noted the dangers of climbing Everest, having himself survived being
stuck in a freezing snow hole for two days near the top, which came at
the cost of all his fingertips and his thumb, lost to frostbite, which
added further difficulty to his climb.
Some sections of the trail from
Everest Base Camp (Nepal)
were damaged in the earthquakes earlier in the year and needed repairs
to handle trekkers.
Mount Everest, May 2016, with
Lhotse peaks to the upper
Nepal Department of Tourism said by June 2016 that about 456
people made it to the summit of Mount Everest, including 45
women. They noted some good summit windows, and on one day, 19
May 2016, 209 climbers made it to the summit. By 11 May 2016 the
lines were fixed on the south side of Everest, after which several
hundred climbers would make it up in the critical weather
windows. Alan Arnette published his
Everest report by year end,
based on results for the now 93-year-old Elizabeth Hawley, which were
released in December 2016. For 2016 her records indicate 641 made
it to the summit early 2016.
On 11 May 2016, nine Sherpas summited Mount Everest. The next day
another six persons reached the top. These were the first
summitings since 2014, when 106 made it to the top. By 13 May, 42
climbers had reached the summit and by 22 May, good weather had
allowed over 400 climbers to reach the summit. However, about 30
climbers developed frostbite or became sick, and two climbers died
from what was reported as possible altitude sickness. Among those
that had to turn back was a science expedition attempting to study the
link between hypoxia and cognitive decline. Although it did not
run its course, it did give some clues into the effects of
high-altitude acclimatisation on human blood.
Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards were sponsored by
Eddie Bauer to
climb Everest, and they relayed information from the
using the smartphone software application and service Snapchat.
Everest has had a 3G wireless data communication network since
2010. One of the things that was reported by them, was that
bottled oxygen was stolen from them and there was some bad behaviour
up there. The bottled oxygen was there for emergency back-up if
they ran into trouble. Cory Richards summited Mount Everest
without oxygen and returned safely, and Adrian made it almost to the
top also. Another famous mountaineer, British climber Kenton Cool
achieved his 12th
Everest summit (the second-highest number of Everest
summitings for a foreigner after Dave Hahn), and US celebrity
mountaineer Melissa Arnot, completed her sixth summit, and achieved
her personal goal of climbing
Everest without supplementary bottled
oxygen. This also turned out to be the most summits for a foreign
female (not Nepali or Chinese), and one of the first US women to
summit and survive without supplementary oxygen.
Francys Arsentiev had made it to the summit, but died during
the descent; she went on to become a famous corpse as a landmark known
as "Sleeping Beauty" until she was buried on
Everest in 2007 by one of
the people who had tried to help her. Another woman from the
Americas, the Ecuadorian woman Carla Perez also summited Mount Everest
in 2016 without supplementary oxygen. Perez and Arnot became the
fifth and sixth women to summit
Everest without supplementary
oxygen. There is an ongoing discussion about the use of extra
bottled oxygen in mountaineering. Also at issue is Dexamethasone
(Dex), which is valuable as a lifesaver as it reduces swelling in the
brain if someone comes down with high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE).
When American Bill Burke was interviewed for his attempt, he noted how
one of his team members had overdosed on Dex, prompting a medical
evacuation even as in his more recent expedition, someone had 25 doses
of Dex. He also noted it was hard to argue against large supplies
of Dex, due its life-saving properties against some types of altitude
sickness, especially HACE.
An example of a death in which Dex was implicated was Dr. Eberhard
Schaaf in 2012 on Everest. Schaaf died on descent at the south summit
from altitude sickness. It has a good reputation as a life saver,
and is commonly given to
Everest climbers for its ability to intervene
in last desperate moments when altitude sickness sets in. For example,
in the 2016 season Robert Gropel said he gave Dex to his wife (as
reported by the Daily Telegraph) in attempt to save her as they tried
to descend Everest. Dex is just the tip of the iceberg, with the
UIAA noting the aforementioned dexamethasone, but also acetazolamide
(aka Diamox), amphetamine, and alcohol use; and another noted
Diamox (acetazolamide) use among trekkers. It is not really a
matter of some authorities being for or against medications, but
awareness, as misuse can cause drug interactions and various side
effects. In particular it was noted that supplementary oxygen
significantly lowers death rate on ultra-high altitude mountain
climbing, and is generally not regulated as a drug, whereas the safe
use of medications is less understood or even acknowledged in many
cases. (see also: Effects of high altitude on humans)
"We estimate that during our informal survey on
Everest spring 2012,
at least two-thirds of climbers we contacted were prescribed several
performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and had intent to use them not for
rescue, but to increase their chances of summit success"
— Dr. L. Freer of
David Liaño Gonzalez (aka David Liano) summited for
the sixth time, promoting a charity and also carrying a Seattle
Seahawks flag with him to the
Everest summit. Another sports
team represented at the
Everest summit was the Denver Broncos, with
its flag unfurled by Kim Hess. Rounding out US mountaineering was
news that a group of soldiers and veterans summited, including some
who had been wounded in combat. A British wounded veteran
(one-eyed) was also trying to summit but gave up his bid to help some
In 2016 the first climbers from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Tunisia
reached the summit of Mount Everest. Only two
other people from North Africa have summited Everest, one from Algeria
and the other from Morocco. The youngest Australian woman to
Everest was Alyssa Azar. She returned to Australia
safely, but a bittersweet victory for
Australia after the loss of
another Australian woman who was also trying to summit that May with
her husband. The youngest Japanese woman also summited (and
returned alive) at the age of 19. Another woman record-breaker in
2016 was the first woman from
Thailand to summit Mount Everest,
Napassaporn Chumnarnsit, who was granted an audience with the Prime
Thailand for her achievement. The first person
Cystic Fibrosis also summited Mount
Everest on his third
try. Also, a 61-year old summited with two artificial knees.
He had been trying for several years and had lost his Nepali friend
Sherpa Nawang Tenzing in the 2015 earthquakes. He was not alone
in being grief-stricken, as many climbers connected with the Everest
mountaineering community lost climbing buddies in two years of
disasters. One who narrowly survived the disasters himself
climbed this year to bring attention to the disease Lewy body dementia
(DLB) which afflicted his father.
Rescues and fatalities
Dr. Maria Strydom
Dr. Charles MacAdams 
Lhotse face fatality
A one-eyed British war veteran rescued a woman from
India who was in
trouble on her descent. The climber, Leslie Binns, successfully
rescued her and tried to save another from her ill-fated eleven-person
expedition which suffered three fatalities. About 500 metres from
the summit, which he could see with his one eye, he heard a woman
screaming for help so he gave up his summit bid to help her down.
She had run out of bottled oxygen and was getting frostbitten.
On 11 May 2016 a Calgary physician died in Tibet, in the Chinese-side
base camp. A 25-year old Nepali named Phurba Sherpa, fixing lines
Lhotse summit, fell to his death. A guide company,
Arnold Coster Expeditions, suffered two fatalities, and a third client
had to be airlifted out. One was a man from the Netherlands, and
another was a South African-born Australian woman. Her husband
had tried to save her, but he also ran into trouble and had to be
airlifted out with medical complications. These deaths were very
widely reported in international news and triggered some public
Everest mountaineering and tourism.
An Indian expedition from West
Bengal suffered a great tragedy, with
the single expedition suffering three fatalities and third, a mother
of an 11-year old had to be rescued on her way down. At first it
was reported one died and two were missing, but later the other two
were located and had not survived. One British climber gave up
his summit bid to help a Bengali woman that had fallen and was ailing
on her descent. She was evacuated by the Himalayan Rescue
Association and airlifted to
Kathmandu with bad frostbite
injuries. They were part of an eleven-member expedition from
India. Eight had reached the summit, including the injured woman
The death toll for
Everest climbers rose to five in most reports by
late May 2016, and with a death of a high-altitude worker on Lhotse
face during the season (
Everest summiters sometimes need to climb
Lhotse face depending on the route), gives a total of six known deaths
Everest massif by the time the season drew to a close.
Although not widely reported during May, a climber in
Tibet had died
on 11 May 2016 which makes it possibly six for Mount
Everest and seven
Everest Massif. The
Nepal ministry of tourism said five
people died (on the Nepali side).
Main article: Mount
Everest in 2017
2017 was the biggest season yet, permit-wise, yielding hundreds of
summiters and a handful of deaths. On 27 May 2017, Kami Rita
Sherpa made her 21st climb to the summit with the Alpine Ascents
Everest Expedition, one of three people in the World along with Apa
Phurba Tashi Sherpa to make it to the summit of Mount
Everest 21 times. The season had a tragic start with the
death of famous climber
Ueli Steck of Switzerland, who died from a
fall during a warm-up climb. There was a continued discussion
about the nature of possible changes to the Hillary Step. Total
summiters for 2017 was tallied up to be 648 .
Famous Himalayan record keeper
Elizabeth Hawley passed away in late
January 2018 In 2018,
Nepal may re-measure the height of Mount
Everest, which is typically recognized as being 29,029, although
re-measurement by teams have come up with somewhat varying figures
including 29,022 and 29,035. One of the issues is if the height
is from the rock summit or includes the ice and snow, which can add a
significant amount of height. It is known the height of Everest
may be changing due to its position on tectonic plates, which can
alternately raise or lower it depending on the type of tectonic
event. Another goal in 2018 that many organizations have, is to
remove trash from the mountain and nature areas.
Looking up along the southern ridgeline, the face of the Hillary Step
is visible. The top of the South-West face is on the left in shadow,
and in the light to the right is the top of the East/Kangshung face.
In 2016 and 2017 there were serious reports that the
Hillary Step was
changed, which triggered a big discussion in the climbing community.
Nepal Camp Altitudes
Base camp 5400 m / 17700 ft.
Camp 1 6100 m / 20000 ft.
Camp 2 6400 m / 21000 ft.
Camp 3 6800m / 22300 ft.
Camp 4 8000 m / 26000 ft.
Summit 8850 m / 29035 ft.
One of the big activities is trips to base camp (aka trekking), which
can be higher than some of the highest mountains. The other big
activity is serious attempts to make it to the top of Everest, and
those in support of those attempts. The peak time for this is late
May, because that is when the monsoons push the jet stream away, there
is another time later in the year when the monsoon ends yielding
another break in the weather, but there is more snow then. Some
technology for climbing include crampons, fixed ropes, various
cold-weather gear, bottled oxygen, and weather prediction. Predicting
the weather is critical, one of the big disasters came in 1996 when a
storm hit during a summit bid.
In modern times, there is greater on-demand logistical support
available such as internet access, but also some new challenges like
not offending the locals and watching out for oxygen-bottle thefts.
Helicopter support has grown and the availability of helicopter
rescues increased, but there are limits on how high and in what
weather they are able to fly. Modern dangers include unexpected
avalanches (these claimed many lives in 2014 and 2015), sudden onset
of altitude sickness, and classic climbing danger - falling. For a
price, permits are available from both
China in the
Tibet region and
from Nepal; there is a multitude of mountaineering firms from all over
the world operating on the mountain.
There were 334 climbing permits issued in 2014 in Nepal, these were
extended until 2019 due to the closure. In 2015 there was 357
permits to climb Everest, but the mountain was closed again because of
the avalanche and earthquake, and these permits were given a two-year
extension to 2017 (not to 2019 as with the 2014
issue).[clarification needed] This was an example of
hospitality that Nepalis have become famous for; an extension was
especially requested by expedition firms (which in turn bring
resources into the country due for mountaineering).
essentially a "fourth world" country, as of 2015 one of the poorest
non-African countries along with
Haiti and Myanmar, and the 19th
poorest country in the world overall. Despite this, Nepal
has been very welcoming to tourists and a significant tourism industry
has been established. Although there is some difficulties,
especially it can be hard to maintain order in distant areas or
control the actions of trouble-makers there is along history of going
the extra kilometer for tourists.
In 2017 a permit evader who tried to climb
Everest without the 11,000
dollar permit, faced among other penalties a 22,000 dollar fine, bans,
and a possible four years in jail after he was caught (he had made it
up past the
Khumbu icefall). In the end he was given a ten-year
mountaineering ban in
Nepal and allowed to return home according to
the British newspaper Daily Mail. The rogue mountaineer, who in
fact had not climbed other mountains, said he was "ecstatic" and that
he would try again but buy a permit next time.
Nepal permits by year:
2008 – 160
2009 – 220
2010 – 209
2011 – 225
2012 – 208
2013 – 316
2014 – 326 (extended for use in any year up to 2019)
2015 – 356 (extended for in any year up to 2017)
2016 – 289
2017 – 373 (last year for 2015 extended permits)
The Chinese side in
Tibet is also managed with permits for summiting
Everest. They did not issue permits in 2008, due to the Olympic
torch relay being taken to the summit of Mount Everest.
South Col route and North Col/Ridge route
Everest has two main climbing routes, the southeast ridge from
Nepal and the north ridge from Tibet, as well as many other less
frequently climbed routes. Of the two main routes, the southeast
ridge is technically easier and more frequently used. It was the route
Edmund Hillary and
Tenzing Norgay in 1953 and the first
recognised of 15 routes to the top by 1996. This was, however, a
route decision dictated more by politics than by design, as the
Chinese border was closed to the western world in the 1950s, after the
People's Republic of
China invaded Tibet.
Most attempts are made during May, before the summer monsoon season.
As the monsoon season approaches, the jet stream shifts northward,
thereby reducing the average wind speeds high on the
mountain. While attempts are sometimes made in September and
October, after the monsoons, when the jet stream is again temporarily
pushed northward, the additional snow deposited by the monsoons and
the less stable weather patterns at the monsoons' tail end make
climbing extremely difficult.
The ascent via the southeast ridge begins with a trek to Base Camp at
5,380 m (17,700 ft) on the south side of Everest, in Nepal.
Expeditions usually fly into
Lukla (2,860 m) from
pass through Namche Bazaar. Climbers then hike to Base Camp, which
usually takes six to eight days, allowing for proper altitude
acclimatisation in order to prevent altitude sickness. Climbing
equipment and supplies are carried by yaks, dzopkyos (yak-cow
hybrids), and human porters to Base Camp on the
Khumbu Glacier. When
Hillary and Tenzing climbed
Everest in 1953, the British expedition
they were part of (comprising over 400 climbers, porters, and Sherpas
at that point) started from the
Kathmandu Valley, as there were no
roads further east at that time.
Climbers spend a couple of weeks in Base Camp, acclimatising to the
altitude. During that time, Sherpas and some expedition climbers set
up ropes and ladders in the treacherous
Seracs, crevasses, and shifting blocks of ice make the icefall one of
the most dangerous sections of the route. Many climbers and Sherpas
have been killed in this section. To reduce the hazard, climbers
usually begin their ascent well before dawn, when the freezing
temperatures glue ice blocks in place.
Above the icefall is Camp I at 6,065 metres (19,900 ft).
From Camp I, climbers make their way up the
Western Cwm to the base of
Lhotse face, where Camp II or Advanced Base Camp (ABC) is
established at 6,500 m (21,300 ft). The
Western Cwm is a
flat, gently rising glacial valley, marked by huge lateral crevasses
in the centre, which prevent direct access to the upper reaches of the
Cwm. Climbers are forced to cross on the far right, near the base of
Nuptse, to a small passageway known as the "
Nuptse corner". The
Western Cwm is also called the "Valley of Silence" as the topography
of the area generally cuts off wind from the climbing route. The high
altitude and a clear, windless day can make the
Western Cwm unbearably
hot for climbers.
From ABC, climbers ascend the
Lhotse face on fixed ropes, up to Camp
III, located on a small ledge at 7,470 m (24,500 ft). From
there, it is another 500 metres to Camp IV on the
South Col at
7,920 m (26,000 ft).
From Camp III to Camp IV, climbers are faced with two additional
Geneva Spur and the Yellow Band. The
Geneva Spur is an
anvil shaped rib of black rock named by the 1952 Swiss expedition.
Fixed ropes assist climbers in scrambling over this snow-covered rock
Yellow Band is a section of interlayered marble, phyllite,
and semischist, which also requires about 100 metres of rope for
On the South Col, climbers enter the death zone. Climbers making
summit bids typically can endure no more than two or three days at
this altitude. That's one reason why clear weather and low winds are
critical factors in deciding whether to make a summit attempt. If
weather does not cooperate within these short few days, climbers are
forced to descend, many all the way back down to Base Camp.
From Camp IV, climbers begin their summit push around midnight, with
hopes of reaching the summit (still another 1,000 metres above) within
10 to 12 hours. Climbers first reach "The Balcony" at 8,400 m
(27,600 ft), a small platform where they can rest and gaze at
peaks to the south and east in the early light of dawn. Continuing up
the ridge, climbers are then faced with the Three Steps, a series of
imposing rock steps which usually forces them to the east into
waist-deep snow, a serious avalanche hazard. At 8,750 m
(28,700 ft), a small table-sized dome of ice and snow marks the
From the South Summit, climbers follow the knife-edge southeast ridge
along what is known as the "Cornice traverse", where snow clings to
intermittent rock. This is the most exposed section of the climb, and
a misstep to the left would send one 2,400 m (7,900 ft) down
the southwest face, while to the immediate right is the 3,050 m
(10,010 ft) Kangshung Face. At the end of this traverse is an
imposing 12 m (39 ft) rock wall, the Hillary Step, at
8,790 m (28,840 ft).
Hillary and Tenzing were the first climbers to ascend this step, and
they did so using primitive ice climbing equipment and ropes.
Nowadays, climbers ascend this step using fixed ropes previously set
up by Sherpas. Once above the step, it is a comparatively easy climb
to the top on moderately angled snow slopes—though the exposure on
the ridge is extreme, especially while traversing large cornices of
snow. With increasing numbers of people climbing the mountain in
recent years, the Step has frequently become a bottleneck, with
climbers forced to wait significant amounts of time for their turn on
the ropes, leading to problems in getting climbers efficiently up and
down the mountain.
After the Hillary Step, climbers also must traverse a loose and rocky
section that has a large entanglement of fixed ropes that can be
troublesome in bad weather. Climbers typically spend less than half an
hour at the summit to allow time to descend to Camp IV before darkness
sets in, to avoid serious problems with afternoon weather, or because
supplemental oxygen tanks run out.
North ridge route
See also: Three Steps
Everest north face from Rongbuk in Tibet
The north ridge route begins from the north side of Everest, in Tibet.
Expeditions trek to the Rongbuk Glacier, setting up base camp at
5,180 m (16,990 ft) on a gravel plain just below the
glacier. To reach Camp II, climbers ascend the medial moraine of the
Rongbuk Glacier up to the base of Changtse, at around
6,100 m (20,000 ft). Camp III (ABC—Advanced Base Camp) is
situated below the
North Col at 6,500 m (21,300 ft). To
reach Camp IV on the North Col, climbers ascend the glacier to the
foot of the col where fixed ropes are used to reach the
North Col at
7,010 m (23,000 ft). From the North Col, climbers ascend the
rocky north ridge to set up Camp V at around 7,775 m
(25,500 ft). The route crosses the North Face in a diagonal climb
to the base of the Yellow Band, reaching the site of Camp VI at
8,230 m (27,000 ft). From Camp VI, climbers make their final
Climbers face a treacherous traverse from the base of the First Step:
ascending from 8,501 to 8,534 m (27,890 to 28,000 ft), to
the crux of the climb, the Second Step, ascending from 8,577 to
8,626 m (28,140 to 28,300 ft). (The Second Step includes a
climbing aid called the "Chinese ladder", a metal ladder placed
semi-permanently in 1975 by a party of Chinese climbers. It has
been almost continuously in place since, and ladders have been used by
virtually all climbers on the route.) Once above the Second Step the
inconsequential Third Step is clambered over, ascending from 8,690 to
8,800 m (28,510 to 28,870 ft). Once above these steps, the
summit pyramid is climbed by a snow slope of 50 degrees, to the final
summit ridge along which the top is reached.
A view from the summit of Mount
Everest in May 2013
The routes usually share one spot in common, the summit itself. The
Everest has been described as "the size of a dining room
table". The summit is capped with snow over ice over rock, and
the layer of snow varies from year to year. The rock summit is
Ordovician limestone and is a low-grade metamorphic rock
according to Montana State University. (see survey section for
more on its height and about the
Everest rock summit)
Below the summit there is an area known as "rainbow valley", filled
with dead bodies still wearing brightly coloured winter gear. Down to
about 8000 metres is an area commonly called the "death zone", due to
the high danger and low oxygen because of the low pressure.
Below the summit the mountain slopes downward to the three main sides,
or faces, of Mount Everest: the North Face, the South-West Face, and
the East/Kangshung Face.
Main article: Effects of high altitude on humans
The summit of Mount
Everest from the North side
From Kala Patthar
At the higher regions of Mount Everest, climbers seeking the summit
typically spend substantial time within the death zone (altitudes
higher than 8,000 metres (26,000 ft)), and face significant
challenges to survival. Temperatures can dip to very low levels,
resulting in frostbite of any body part exposed to the air. Since
temperatures are so low, snow is well-frozen in certain areas and
death or injury by slipping and falling can occur. High winds at these
Everest are also a potential threat to climbers.
Another significant threat to climbers is low atmospheric pressure.
The atmospheric pressure at the top of
Everest is about a third of sea
level pressure or 0.333 standard atmospheres (337 mbar),
resulting in the availability of only about a third as much oxygen to
Debilitating effects of the death zone are so great that it takes most
climbers up to 12 hours to walk the distance of 1.72 kilometres
(1.07 mi) from
South Col to the summit. Achieving even this
level of performance requires prolonged altitude acclimatisation,
which takes 40–60 days for a typical expedition. A sea-level dweller
exposed to the atmospheric conditions at the altitude above
8,500 m (27,900 ft) without acclimatisation would likely
lose consciousness within 2 to 3 minutes.
In May 2007, the Caudwell Xtreme
Everest undertook a medical study of
oxygen levels in human blood at extreme altitude. Over 200 volunteers
Everest Base Camp where various medical tests were
performed to examine blood oxygen levels. A small team also performed
tests on the way to the summit. Even at base camp, the low
partial pressure of oxygen had direct effect on blood oxygen
saturation levels. At sea level, blood oxygen saturation is generally
98–99%. At base camp, blood saturation fell to between 85 and 87%.
Blood samples taken at the summit indicated very low oxygen levels in
the blood. A side effect of low blood oxygen is a greatly increased
breathing rate, often 80–90 breaths per minute as opposed to a more
typical 20–30. Exhaustion can occur merely attempting to
Lack of oxygen, exhaustion, extreme cold, and climbing hazards all
contribute to the death toll. An injured person who cannot walk is in
serious trouble, since rescue by helicopter is generally impractical
and carrying the person off the mountain is very risky. People who die
during the climb are typically left behind. As of 2006, about 150
bodies had never been recovered. It is not uncommon to find corpses
near the standard climbing routes.
Debilitating symptoms consistent with high altitude cerebral oedema
commonly present during descent from the summit of Mount Everest.
Profound fatigue and late times in reaching the summit are early
features associated with subsequent death.
— Mortality on Mount Everest, 1921–2006: descriptive study
A 2008 study noted that the "death zone" is indeed where most Everest
deaths occur, but also noted that most deaths occur during descent
from the summit. A 2014 article in the magazine The Atlantic
about deaths on
Everest noted that while falling is one of the
greatest dangers the DZ presents for all 8000ers, avalanches are a
more common cause of death at lower altitudes. However, Everest
climbing is more deadly than BASE jumping, although some have combined
extreme sports and
Everest including a beverage company that had
someone base-jumping off
Everest in a wingsuit (they did survive,
Everest is safer for climbers than a number of peaks by
some measurements, but it depends on the period. Some examples
are Kangchenjunga, K2, Annapurna, Nanga Parbat, and the Eiger
(especially the nordwand).
Mont Blanc has more deaths each year
than Everest, with over one hundred dying in a typical year and over
eight thousand killed since records were kept. Some factors that
affect total mountain lethality include the level of popularity of the
mountain, the skill of those climbing, and the difficulty of the
Another health hazard is retinal haemorrhages, which can damage
eyesight and cause blindness. Up to a quarter of
can experience retinal haemorrhages, and although they usually heal
within weeks of returning to lower altitudes, in 2010 a climber went
blind and ended up dying in the death zone.
At one o'clock in the afternoon, the British climber Peter Kinloch was
on the roof of the world, in bright sunlight, taking photographs of
Himalayas below, "elated, cheery and bubbly". But Mount
now his grave, because only minutes later, he suddenly went blind and
had to be abandoned to die from the cold.
— A. McSmith
The team made a huge effort for the next 12 hours to try to get him
down the mountain, but to no avail, as they were unsuccessful in
getting him through the difficult sections. Even for the able,
Everest North-East ridge is recognised as a challenge. It is hard
to rescue someone who has become incapacitated and it can be beyond
the ability of rescuers to save anyone in such a difficult spot.
One way around this situation was pioneered by two Nepali men in 2011,
who had intended to paraglide off the summit. They had no choice and
were forced to go through with their plan anyway, because they had run
out of bottled oxygen and supplies. They successfully launched
off the summit and para-glided down to Namche in just 42 minutes,
without having to climb down the mountain.
Climber at the summit wearing an oxygen mask
Available oxygen at Everest
Most expeditions use oxygen masks and tanks above 8,000 m
Everest can be climbed without supplementary
oxygen, but only by the most accomplished mountaineers and at
increased risk. Humans do not think clearly with low oxygen, and the
combination of extreme weather, low temperatures, and steep slopes
often requires quick, accurate decisions. While about 95 percent of
climbers who reach the summit use bottled oxygen in order to reach the
top, about five percent of climbers have summited
supplemental oxygen. The death rate is double for those who attempt to
reach the summit without supplemental oxygen. Travelling above
8,000 feet altitude is a factor in cerebral hypoxia. This
decrease of oxygen to the brain can cause dementia and brain damage,
as well as other symptoms. One study found that Mount
be the highest an acclimatised human could go, but also found that
climbers may suffer permanent neurological damage despite returning to
Brain cells are extremely sensitive to a lack of oxygen. Some brain
cells start dying less than 5 minutes after their oxygen supply
disappears. As a result, brain hypoxia can rapidly cause severe brain
damage or death.
— Healthline Website
The use of bottled oxygen to ascend Mount
Everest has been
controversial. It was first used on the 1922 British Mount Everest
Expedition by George Finch and Geoffrey Bruce who climbed up to
7,800 m (25,600 ft) at a spectacular speed of 1,000 vertical
feet per hour (vf/h). Pinned down by a fierce storm, they escaped
death by breathing oxygen from a jury-rigged set-up during the night.
The next day they climbed to 8,100 m (26,600 ft) at 900
vf/h—nearly three times as fast as non-oxygen users. Yet the use of
oxygen was considered so unsportsmanlike that none of the rest of the
Alpine world recognised this high ascent rate.
George Mallory described the use of such oxygen as unsportsmanlike,
but he later concluded that it would be impossible for him to summit
without it and consequently used it on his final attempt in 1924.
When Tenzing and Hillary made the first successful summit in 1953,
they used bottled oxygen, with the expedition's physiologist Griffith
Pugh referring to the oxygen debate as a "futile controversy", noting
that oxygen "greatly increases subjective appreciation of the
surroundings, which after all is one of the chief reasons for
climbing." For the next twenty-five years, bottled oxygen was
considered standard for any successful summit.
...although an acclimatised lowlander can survive for a time on the
Everest without supplemental oxygen, one is so close to the
limit that even a modicum of excess exertion may impair brain
— Thomas F. Hornbein in The high-altitude brain 
Reinhold Messner was the first climber to break the bottled oxygen
tradition and in 1978, with Peter Habeler, made the first successful
climb without it. In 1980, Messner summited the mountain solo, without
supplemental oxygen or any porters or climbing partners, on the more
difficult northwest route. Once the climbing community was satisfied
that the mountain could be climbed without supplemental oxygen, many
purists then took the next logical step of insisting that is how it
should be climbed.:154
The aftermath of the 1996 disaster further intensified the debate. Jon
Into Thin Air
Into Thin Air (1997) expressed the author's personal
criticisms of the use of bottled oxygen. Krakauer wrote that the use
of bottled oxygen allowed otherwise unqualified climbers to attempt to
summit, leading to dangerous situations and more deaths. The disaster
was partially caused by the sheer number of climbers (34 on that day)
attempting to ascend, causing bottlenecks at the
Hillary Step and
delaying many climbers, most of whom summitted after the usual 14:00
turnaround time. He proposed banning bottled oxygen except for
emergency cases, arguing that this would both decrease the growing
pollution on Everest—many bottles have accumulated on its
slopes—and keep marginally qualified climbers off the mountain.
The 1996 disaster also introduced the issue of the guide's role in
using bottled oxygen.
Guide Anatoli Boukreev's decision not to use bottled oxygen was
sharply criticised by Jon Krakauer. Boukreev's supporters (who include
G. Weston DeWalt, who co-wrote The Climb) state that using bottled
oxygen gives a false sense of security. Krakauer and his
supporters point out that, without bottled oxygen, Boukreev could not
directly help his clients descend. They state that Boukreev said
that he was going down with client Martin Adams, but just below
the south summit, Boukreev determined that Adams was doing fine on the
descent and so descended at a faster pace, leaving Adams behind. Adams
states in The Climb, "For me, it was business as usual, Anatoli's
going by, and I had no problems with that."
The low oxygen can cause a mental fog-like impairment of cognitive
abilities described as "delayed and lethargic thought process,
clinically defined as bradypsychia" even after returning to lower
altitudes. In severe cases, climbers can experience
hallucinations. Some studies have found that high-altitude climbers,
Everest climbers, experience altered brain structure.
The effects of high altitude on the brain, particularly if it can
cause permanent brain damage, continue to be studied.
Everest in September 2006, what can be seen here is how white all the
mountains are from snowfall. The increased snowfall in the autumn has
made it popular for ski/snow boarding but the increased risk of
avalanche from all the snow does not benefit mountaineering
Although generally less popular than spring, Mount
Everest has also
been climbed in the autumn (also called the "post-monsoon
season"). For example, in 2010 Eric Larsen and five Nepali
Everest in the autumn for the first time in ten
years. The first mainland British ascent of Mount Everest
(Hillary was from New Zealand), led by Chris Bonnington, was an autumn
ascent in 1975. The autumn season, when the monsoon ends, is
regarded as more dangerous because there is typically a lot of new
snow which can be unstable. However, this increased snow can make
it more popular with certain winter sports like skiing and snow
boarding. Two Japanese also summited in October 1973.
Chris Chandler and Bob Cormack summited
Everest in October 1976 as
part of the American Bicentennial
Everest Expedition that year, the
first Americans to make an autumn ascent of Mt.
Everest according to
the Los Angeles Times. By the 21st century, summer and autumn can
be more popular with skiing and snowboard attempts on Mount
Everest. During the 1980s, climbing in autumn was actually more
popular than in spring. The U.S. astronaut Karl Gordon Henize
died in October 1993 on a fall (autumn) expedition conducting an
experiment on radiation. The amount of background radiation increases
with higher altitudes.
The mountain has also been climbed in the winter, but that is not
popular because of the combination of cold high winds and shorter
days. By January the peak is typically battered by 170 mph
(270 km/h) winds and the average temperature of the summit is
around −33 °F (−36 °C).
Selected climbing records
Main article: Timeline of climbing Mount Everest
Khumbu Icefall in 2005
Western Cwm ("Coom"), with
Everest on the left and
Lhotse to the
By the end of the 2010 climbing season, there had been 5,104 ascents
to the summit by about 3,142 individuals. Some notable "firsts"
by climbers include:
1922 – First climb to 8,000 metres (26,247 ft), by George Finch
and Captain Geoffrey Bruce
1952 – First climb to
South Col by 1952 Swiss Mount Everest
1953 – First ascent, by
Tenzing Norgay and
Edmund Hillary on 1953
1960 – First reported ascent from the North Ridge by Wang Fuzhou,
Gonpo and Qu Yinhua of China.
1975 – First female ascent, by
Junko Tabei (16 May).
1975 – First female ascent from the North Ridge, by Phanthog, deputy
head of the second Chinese
Everest expedition that sent nine climbers
to the summit (27 May).
First ascent without supplemental oxygen by Reinhold Messner
and Peter Habeler
1980 – First winter ascent, by Polish National Expedition Winter
Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki)
1980 – First solo ascent, by Reinhold Messner
1988 – First "cross-over" climb by Chinese, Japanese and Nepalese
teams which ascended the peak simultaneously from both the North and
South sides of the mountain and descended down the other side.
The cross-over climb was also the first to be recorded on live
1988 – First descent by paraglider, by Jean-Marc Boivin
1988 – First female ascent without supplemental oxygen by Lydia
1998 – Fastest to reach the summit via the southeast ridge (South
Col), without supplemental oxygen, by Kazi Sherpa, in 20 hours and 24
2000 – First descent by ski by Davo Karničar
First ascent by a blind climber, Erik Weihenmayer
Lhakpa Sherpa becomes first Nepali woman to summit Everest
2004 – Fastest to reach the summit via the southeast ridge (South
Col), with supplemental oxygen, by Pemba Dorje, in 8 hours and 10
Lhakpa Sherpa summits for the 6th time, breaking her own
record for most successful female
2007 – Fastest to reach the summit via the northeast ridge, without
supplemental oxygen, by Christian Stangl, in 16 hours, 42
2010 – Youngest male to reach the summit, by
Jordan Romero (13-year
and 10 months old)
2011 – Most times to reach the summit,
Apa Sherpa (21 times; 10 May
1990 – 11 May 2011)
Apa Sherpa tied for most times to reach the summit by Phurba
Tashi (21 times; 1999–2013)
2013 – Melissa Arnot, American, summits for the 5th time breaking
her own record for most successful summits by any non-Sherpa
2014 – Youngest female to reach the summit, by Malavath Purna
(13-year and 11 months old)
Kami Rita Sherpa of Alpine Ascents reaches 21 ascents to the
Summiting with disabilities
Everest with disabilities such as amputations and diseases
has become popular in the 21st century, with stories like that of
Sudarshan Gautam, a man with no arms who made it to the top in
2013. A teenager with Down's syndrome made it to Base camp, which
has become a substitute for more extreme record-breaking because it
carries many of the same thrills including the trip to the Himalayas
and rustic scenery. Danger lurks even at base camp though, which
was the site where dozens were killed in the 2015 Mount Everest
avalanches. Others that have climbed
Everest with amputations include
Mark Inglis (no legs), Paul Hockey (1 arm only), and
Arunima Sinha (1
Everest and aviation
1988: First climb and glide
On 26 September 1988, having climbed the mountain via the south-east
Jean-Marc Boivin made the first paraglider descent of
Everest, in the process creating the record for the fastest
descent of the mountain and the highest paraglider flight. Boivin
said: "I was tired when I reached the top because I had broken much of
the trail, and to run at this altitude was quite hard." Boivin
ran 18 m (60 ft) from below the summit on 40-degree slopes
to launch his paraglider, reaching Camp II at 5,900 m
(19,400 ft) in 12 minutes (some sources say 11
minutes). Boivin would not repeat this feat, as he was
killed two years later in 1990, base-jumping off Venezuela's Angel
1991: Hot air balloon flyover
In 1991 four men in two balloons achieved the first hot-air balloon
flight over Mount Everest. In one balloon was Andy Elson and Eric
Jones (cameraman), and in the other balloon Chris Dewhirst and Leo
Dickinson (cameraman). Leo went on to write a book about the
adventure called Ballooning Over Everest. The hot-air balloons
were modified to function at up to 40,000 feet altitude. Reinhold
Messner called one of Leo's panoramic views of Everest, captured on
the now discontinued Kodak
Kodachrome film, the "best snap on Earth",
according to UK newspaper The Telegraph. Dewhirst has offered to
take passengers on a repeat of this feat for 2.6 million USD per
2005: Pilot summits
Everest with helicopter
Photo of a
Eurocopter AS350 B3 "Squirrel"
In May 2005, pilot
Didier Delsalle of
France landed a Eurocopter AS350
B3 helicopter on the summit of Mount Everest. He needed to land
for two minutes to set the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
(FAI) official record, but he stayed for about four minutes,
twice. In this type of landing the rotors stay engaged, which
avoids relying on the snow to fully support the aircraft. The flight
set rotorcraft world records, for highest of both landing and
Some press reports suggested that the report of the summit landing was
a misunderstanding of a
South Col landing, but he had also landed on
South Col two days earlier, with this landing and the Everest
records confirmed by the FAI. Delsalle also rescued two Japanese
climbers at 4,880 m (16,000 ft) while he was there. One
climber noted that the new record meant a better chance of
2011 Paraglide off summit
In 2011 two Nepali paraglided from the
Summit to Namche in 42
minutes. They had run out of oxygen and supplies, so it was a
very fast way off the mountain. The duo won National Geographic
Adventurers of the Year for 2012 for their exploits. After the
paraglide they kayaked to the Indian Ocean, and they had made it to
the Bay of
Bengal by the end of June 2011. One had never climbed,
and one had never para-glided, but together they accomplished a
ground-breaking feat. By 2013 footage of the flight was shown on
the television Nightline. (see also kayaking for more on this
style of activity)
2014: Helicopter-assisted ascent
In 2014, a team financed and led by mountaineer Wang Jing used a
helicopter to fly from South base camp to Camp 2 to avoid the Khumbu
Icefall, and thence climbed to the
Everest summit. This climb
immediately sparked outrage and controversy in much of the
mountaineering world over the legitimacy and propriety of her
Nepal ended up investigating Wang, who initially
denied the claim that she had flown to Camp 2, admitting only that
some support crew were flown to that higher camp, over the Khumbu
Icefall. In August 2014, however, she stated that she had flown
to Camp 2 because the icefall was impassable. "If you don't fly to
Camp II, you just go home," she said in an interview. In that same
interview she also insisted that she had never tried to hide this
Her team had had to use the south side because the Chinese had denied
them a permit to climb. Ultimately, the Chinese refusal may have been
beneficial to Nepalese interests, allowing the government to showcase
improved local hospitals and provided the opportunity for a new hybrid
aviation/mountaineering style, triggering discussions about helicopter
use in the mountaineering world. National Geographic noted that a
village festooned Wang with honours after she donated 30,000 USD to
the town's hospital. Wang won the International Mountaineer of the
Year Award from the
Nepal government in June 2014.
2016: Helicopter business increases
In 2016 the increased use of helicopters was noted for increased
efficiency and for hauling material over the deadly Khumbu
icefall. In particular it was noted that flights saved icefall
porters 80 trips but still increased commercial activity at
Everest. After many Nepalis died in the icefall in 2014, the
government had wanted helicopters to handle more transportation to
Camp 1 but this was not possible because of the 2015 deaths and
earthquake closing the mountain, so this was then implemented in 2016
(helicopters did prove instrumental in rescuing many people in 2015
though). That summer Bell tested the 412EPI, which conducted a
series of tests including hovering at 18,000 feet and flying as high
as 20,000 feet altitude near Mount Everest.
Financial cost of guided climbs
Going with a "celebrity guide", usually a well-known mountaineer
typically with decades of climbing experience and perhaps several
Everest summits, can cost over £100,000 as of 2015. On the other
hand, a limited support service, offering only some meals at base camp
and bureaucratic overhead like a permit, can cost as little as
US$7,000 as of 2007. There are issues with the management of
guiding firms in Nepal, and one Canadian woman was left begging for
help when her guide firm, which she had paid perhaps US$40,000 to,
couldn't stop her from dying in 2012. She ran out of bottled oxygen
after climbing for 27 hours straight. Despite decades of concern over
inexperienced climbers, neither she nor the guide firm had summited
Everest before. The Tibetan/Chinese side has been described as "out of
control" due to reports of thefts and threats. By 2015,
considering requiring that climbers have some experience and wanted to
make the mountain safer, and especially increase revenue. One
barrier to this is that low-budget firms make money not taking
inexperienced climbers to the summit.(subscription required)
Those turned away by Western firms can often find another firm willing
to take them for a price—that they return home soon after arriving
after base camp, or part way up the mountain. Whereas a Western
firm will convince those they deem incapable to turn back, other firms
simply give people the freedom to choose.
Top down view showing the location of the summit, and its three main
Everest base camp
Gorak Shep is about a three-hour walk to South EBC (
Everest can be a relatively expensive undertaking for
climbers. Climbing gear required to reach the summit may cost in
excess of US$8,000, and most climbers also use bottled oxygen, which
adds around US$3,000. The permit to enter the
Everest area from the
Nepal costs US$10,000 to US$25,000 per person, depending on
the size of the team. The ascent typically starts at one of the two
base camps near the mountain, both of which are approximately 100
kilometres (60 mi) from
Kathmandu and 300 kilometres
(190 mi) from
Lhasa (the two nearest cities with major airports).
Transferring one's equipment from the airport to the base camp may add
as much as US$2,000.
By 2016, most guiding services cost between US$35,000–200,000.
However, the services offered vary widely and it is "buyer beware"
when doing deals in Nepal, one of the poorest and least developed
countries in the world. Tourism is about four percent of
Nepal's economy, but
Everest is special in that an
Everest porter can
make nearly double the nations's average wage in a region in which
other sources of income are lacking.
Beyond this point, costs may vary widely. It is technically possible
to reach the summit with minimal additional expenses, and there are
"budget" travel agencies which offer logistical support for such
trips. However, this is considered difficult and dangerous (as
illustrated by the case of David Sharp). Many climbers hire "full
service" guide companies, which provide a wide spectrum of services,
including acquisition of permits, transportation to/from base camp,
food, tents, fixed ropes, medical assistance while on the
mountain, an experienced mountaineer guide, and even personal porters
to carry one's backpack and cook one's meals. The cost of such a guide
service may range from US$40,000–80,000 per person. Since most
equipment is moved by Sherpas, clients of full-service guide companies
can often keep their backpack weights under 10 kilograms (22 lb),
or hire a Sherpa to carry their backpack for them. By contrast,
climbers attempting less commercialised peaks, like Denali, are often
expected to carry backpacks over 30 kilograms (66 lb) and,
occasionally, to tow a sled with 35 kilograms (77 lb) of gear and
According to Jon Krakauer, the era of commercialisation of Everest
started in 1985, when the summit was reached by a guided expedition
David Breashears that included Richard Bass, a wealthy
55-year-old businessman and an amateur mountain climber with only four
years of climbing experience. By the early-1990s, several
companies were offering guided tours to the mountain. Rob Hall, one of
the mountaineers who died in the 1996 disaster, had successfully
guided 39 clients to the summit before that incident.:24,42
The degree of commercialisation of Mount
Everest is a frequent subject
of criticism. Jamling Tenzing Norgay, the son of Tenzing Norgay,
said in a 2003 interview that his late father would have been shocked
to discover that rich thrill-seekers with no climbing experience were
now routinely reaching the summit, "You still have to climb this
mountain yourself with your feet. But the spirit of adventure is not
there any more. It is lost. There are people going up there who have
no idea how to put on crampons. They are climbing because they have
paid someone $65,000. It is very selfish. It endangers the lives of
Reinhold Messner concurred in 2004, "You could die in each climb and
that meant you were responsible for yourself. We were real
mountaineers: careful, aware and even afraid. By climbing mountains we
were not learning how big we were. We were finding out how breakable,
how weak and how full of fear we are. You can only get this if you
expose yourself to high danger. I have always said that a mountain
without danger is not a mountain....
High altitude alpinism has become
tourism and show. These commercial trips to Everest, they are still
dangerous. But the guides and organisers tell clients, "Don't worry,
it's all organised." The route is prepared by hundreds of Sherpas.
Extra oxygen is available in all camps, right up to the summit. People
will cook for you and lay out your beds. Clients feel safe and don't
care about the risks.
However, not all opinions on the subject among prominent mountaineers
are strictly negative. For example, Edmund Hillary, who went on record
saying that he has not liked "the commercialization of mountaineering,
particularly of Mt. Everest" and claimed that "Having people pay
$65,000 and then be led up the mountain by a couple of experienced
guides...isn't really mountaineering at all", nevertheless noted
that he was pleased by the changes brought to
Everest area by
Westerners, "I don't have any regrets because I worked very hard
indeed to improve the condition for the local people. When we first
went in there they didn't have any schools, they didn't have any
medical facilities, all over the years we have established 27 schools,
we have two hospitals and a dozen medical clinics and then we've built
bridges over wild mountain rivers and put in fresh water pipelines so
in cooperation with the Sherpas we've done a lot to benefit
One of the early guided summiters,
Richard Bass (of Seven Summits
fame) responded in an interview about
Everest climbers and what it
took to survive there, "Climbers should have high altitude experience
before they attempt the really big mountains. People don't realise the
difference between a 20,000-foot mountain and 29,000 feet. It's not
just arithmetic. The reduction of oxygen in the air is proportionate
to the altitude alright, but the effect on the human body is
disproportionate—an exponential curve. People climb
Aconcagua [22,834 feet] and think, 'Heck, I feel great up
here, I’m going to try Everest.' But it's not like that."
Law and order
Some climbers have reported life-threatening thefts from supply
caches. Vitor Negrete, the first Brazilian to climb
oxygen and part of David Sharp's party, died during his descent, and
theft from his high-altitude camp may have contributed.
"Several members were bullied, gear was stolen, and threats were made
against me and my climbing partner, Michael Kodas, making an already
stressful situation even more dire." said one climber.
In addition to theft, Michael Kodas describes in his book High Crimes:
The Fate of
Everest in an Age of Greed (2008), unethical guides
and Sherpas, prostitution and gambling at the
Tibet Base Camp, fraud
related to the sale of oxygen bottles, and climbers collecting
donations under the pretense of removing trash from the
The Chinese side of
Tibet was described as "out of control"
after one Canadian had all his gear stolen and was abandoned by his
Sherpa. Another sherpa helped him get off the mountain safely and
gave him some spare gear. Other climbers have also reported missing
oxygen bottles, which can be worth hundreds of dollars each. One
problem is that hundreds of climbers pass by people's tents. Also
weather can damage or even blow people's equipment away.
In the late 2010s the reports of theft of oxygen bottles from camps
became more common. Westerners have sometimes struggled to
understand the ancient culture and desperate poverty that drives some
locals, some with a different concept of the value of a human
life. For example, for just 1,000 rupees (£6.30) per person
several foreigners were forced to leave the lodge where they were
staying and tricked into believing they were being led to safety.
Instead they were abandoned and died in the snowstorm.
2014 Sherpa strike
On 18 April 2014, in one of the worst disasters to ever hit the
Everest climbing community up to that time, 16 Sherpas died in Nepal
due to the avalanche that swept them off Mount Everest. In response to
the tragedy numerous Sherpa climbing guides walked off the job and
most climbing companies pulled out in respect for the Sherpa people
mourning the loss. Some still wanted to climb but there was
really too much controversy to continue that year. One of the
issues that triggered the work action by Sherpas was unreasonable
client demands during climbs.
Extreme sports at Mount Everest
A paraglider at Neustift, Tirol, Austria
Everest has been host to other winter sports and adventuring
besides mountaineering, including snowboarding, skiing, paragliding,
and BASE jumping.
Yuichiro Miura became the first man to ski down
Everest in the 1970s.
He descended nearly 4,200 vertical feet from the
South Col before
falling with extreme injuries. Stefan Gatt and Marco Siffredi
Everest in 2001. Other
Everest skiers include
Davo Karničar of Slovenia, who completed a top to south base camp
descent in 2000,
Hans Kammerlander of Italy in 1996 on the north
side, and Kit DesLauriers of the United States in 2006. In
Tomas Olsson planned to ski down the north face, but his anchor
broke while he was rappelling down a cliff in the Norton couloir at
about 8,500 metres, resulting in his death from a two and a half
kilometre fall. Also, Marco Siffredi died in 2002 on his second
Various types of gliding descents have slowly become more popular, and
are noted for their rapid descents to lower camps. In 1986 Steve
McKinney led an expedition to Mount Everest, during which he
became the first person to fly a hang-glider off the mountain.
Jean-Marc Boivin made the first paraglider descent of
Everest in September 1988, descending in minutes from the south-east
ridge to a lower camp. In 2011, two Nepalese made a gliding
descent from the
Everest summit down 5,000 metres (16,400 ft) in
45 minutes. On 5 May 2013, the beverage company Red Bull
sponsored Valery Rozov, who successfully BASE jumped off of the
mountain while wearing a wingsuit, setting a record for world's
highest BASE jump in the process.
Everest and religion
The Rongphu Monastery, with Mt.
Everest in the background
The southern part of Mt.
Everest is regarded as one of several "hidden
valleys" of refuge designated by Padmasambhava, a ninth-century
Near the base of the north side of
Everest lies Rongbuk Monastery,
which has been called the "sacred threshold to Mount Everest, with the
most dramatic views of the world." For Sherpas living on the
Everest in the
Khumbu region of Nepal,
Rongbuk Monastery is
an important pilgrimage site, accessed in a few days of travel across
Himalayas through Nangpa La.
Miyolangsangma, a Tibetan
Buddhist "Goddess of Inexhaustible Giving",
is believed to have lived at the top of Mt Everest. According to
Buddhist monks, Mt
Everest is Miyolangsangma's palace and
playground, and all climbers are only partially welcome guests, having
arrived without invitation.
Sherpa people also believe that Mt.
Everest and its flanks are
blessed with spiritual energy, and one should show reverence when
passing through this sacred landscape. Here, the karmic effects of
one's actions are magnified, and impure thoughts are best
In 2015 the president of the
Mountaineering Association warned
that pollution, especially human waste, has reached critical levels.
As much as "26,500 pounds of human excrement" each season is left
behind on the mountain. Human waste is strewn across the verges
of the route to the summit, making the four sleeping areas on the
route up Everest's south side minefields of human excrement. Climbers
above Base Camp—for the 62-year history of climbing on the
mountain—have most commonly either buried their excrement in holes
they dug by hand in the snow, or slung it into crevasses, or simply
defecated wherever convenient, often within meters of their tents. The
only place where climbers can defecate without worrying about
contaminating the mountain is Base Camp. At approximately 18,000 feet,
Base Camp sees the most activity of all camps on
climbers acclimate and rest there. In the late-1990s, expeditions
began using toilets that they fashioned from blue plastic 50-gallon
barrels fitted with a toilet seat and enclosed. The problem of
human waste is compounded by the presence of more anodyne waste: spent
oxygen tanks, abandoned tents, empty cans and bottles. The Nepalese
government now requires each climber to pack out eight kilograms of
waste when descending the mountain.
1890 graphic with the Himalayas, including Gaurisankar (Mount Everest)
in the distance
Peak XV (British Empire's Survey)
"The Bastard" (Hillary)
Romanised Tibetan name: "Chomolongma"
Romanised Chinese name: "Mount Qomolangma"
Romanised Nepalese name: "Sagar-Matha" (usually Sagarmatha)
Darjeeling name: "Deodungha"
"Gauri Shankar" or "Gaurisankar"; in modern times the name is used for
a different peak about 30 miles away, but was used occasionally until
Context and maps
Nearby peaks include Lhotse, 8,516 m (27,940 ft); Nuptse,
7,855 m (25,771 ft), and Changtse, 7,580 m
(24,870 ft) among others. Another nearby peak is Khumbutse, and
many of the highest mountains in the world are near Mount Everest. On
the southwest side, a major feature in the lower areas is the Khumbu
icefall and glacier, which is a famous obstacle to climbers on those
routes but also nearby the base camps of those attempting to climb it
Southern and northern climbing routes as seen from the International
Space Station. (The names on the photo are links to corresponding
Satellite view of Everest,
Annotated image of
Everest and surroundings as seen from Gokyo Ri.
Changtse, Nirekha, Everest,
Lobuche West, Cho La, Nuptse, Lhotse,
Lobuche, Island Peak
A comparison of a Mount
Everest height comparison with several other
peaks. Note Mount Sharp is on planet Mars, it is the one with
2004 photo mosaic of the
Makalu and Mount
the International Space Station, Expedition 8
Sunset lights up the peak of Everest's North face
Geology of the Himalaya
List of elevation extremes by country
List of Mount
List of people who died climbing Mount Everest
List of ski descents of Eight-Thousanders
List of tallest mountains in the Solar System
Qomolangma National Park
Sagarmatha National Park
Timeline of climbing Mount Everest
Chinese plan for a rail tunnel under Everest
The lowest pont of Nepal
^ a b Based on the 1999 and 2005 surveys of elevation of snow cap, not
rock head. For more details, see Surveys.
WGS84 coordinates given here were calculated using detailed
topographic mapping and are in agreement with adventurestats. They are
unlikely to be in error by more than 2". Coordinates showing Everest
to be more than a minute further east that appeared on this page until
recently, and still appear in in several other languages,
^ Geography of Nepal: Physical, Economic, Cultural & Regional By
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Everest on the international border is
clearly shown on detailed topographic mapping, including official
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no universally accepted definition. However, for a peak rising out of
relatively flat terrain, such as
Mauna Kea or Denali, an "approximate"
height above "base" can be calculated.
Everest is more complicated,
since it only rises above relatively flat terrain on its north
(Tibetan Plateau) side. Hence the concept of "base" has even less
Everest than for
Mauna Kea or Denali, and the range of
numbers for "height above base" is wider. In general, comparisons
based on "height above base" are somewhat suspect.
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expedition § Bibliography.
For first ascent of Mount Everest, see 1953 British Mount Everest
expedition § Further reading.
Astill, Tony (2005). Mount Everest: The Reconnaissance 1935.
Boukreev, Anatoli; DeWalt, G. Weston (1997). The Climb: Tragic
Ambitions on Everest. Saint Martin's Press.
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Dent & Sons.
Norgay, Tenzing; Ullman, Ramsey James (1955). Tiger of the Snows. New
Tilman, H. W. (1952).
Nepal Himalaya. Cambridge University
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Third Pole". National Geographic. Vol. 174 no. 5.
pp. 652–659. ISSN 0027-9358. OCLC 643483454.
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Everest (8,848 m or 29,029 ft)
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