At 8,848 m, Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. Conquering it has always been among the biggest goals of every mountaineer.
But is climbing Mount Everest that easy? The answer is no.
Dangers of climbing Mount Everest
Being able to stand at the peak of Mount Everest feels excellent. But to safely reach the peak, you will have to pay close attention to these hazards:
1. Altitude sickness
Altitude sickness is among the most dangerous conditions you can experience when climbing mountains. It results from oxygen insufficiency and often happens when you go up high altitude too quickly.
You might have already known about this because the higher you go, the lower the oxygen level.
Symptoms like exhaustion, dizziness, and nausea can start once you reach about 2,400 m above sea level. But if you stay below 3,600 m, you will be all right.
The point is that Mount Everest is way higher than that. At the peak, the oxygen level will drop to only one-third of it at the sea level.
This can lead to severe symptoms like loss of consciousness or pulmonary edema and cerebral edema – the excess fluid accumulation in your lungs and brain.
2. Extremely low temperatures and unfavorable weather
The higher you go, the lower the temperature is as well. For each 100 m you ascend, the temperature will decrease by 0.65°C, making the peak of Everest 57°C colder than at the sea level.
That equals to -19°C during the summer and -37°C in the winter. Don’t forget that the night is usually colder, and strong winds make the game even more challenging.
The weather can mean life or death. It may seem sunny when you start, but behind that might be a terrible storm.
This kind of weather change killed 8 people on the Everest in 1996. One of the reasons could be the wind.
It produces clouds that lead to rain and snowing on one side of the mountain first, leaving the other side with better weather.
3. Avalanches and crevasses
An avalanche is a large amount of ice, snow, and rock falling down a mountain. The North Col and South Col have the most avalanches on Mount Everest.
Other than that, the Khumbu Ice Fall is also notoriously known as the “Suicide Passage”. Luckily, most trips start early in the morning, before the sun can melt snow and cause avalanches.
On the other side, crevasses are cracks that appear in glacial ice. Primarily invisible, they can swallow you from just a moment of carelessness.
Some even have many blocks of ice lying under, called “seracs,” that can easily collapse. Again, the Khumbu Ice Falls has the most dangerous crevasses. When crossing it, climbers must get fixed ropes tied between fellow team members to save someone if they fall.
Falling accounts for many serious injuries when climbing mountains. It can happen when you climb on the heights or when you accidentally trip.
Or it might be from leaving your tent at night to relieve yourself, stepping onto the ice-covered ground. Carelessness can lead to a several-meter fall, broken limbs, permanent paralysis, or even death.
Another factor that can lead to falling is other climbers around you. During the peak season, Mount Everest is very often overcrowded.
Dozens of climbers will line up at the Hillary Step, waiting to reach the summit. However, only one person can pass at a time. Some of the remaining people get tired and incautious while waiting. They can make a false step and stumble. This alone can trigger a deadly chain reaction.
5. Lack of experience in general
Conquering Mount Everest calls for inclusive training. All the extremes require you to practice in lower or smaller mountains beforehand.
You will have to understand how to use your gear, ascend or descend safely, assess the weather conditions, etc. Having the right mindset and getting used to real situations is the point.
A lack of experience can lead to overconfidence. It’s when you think you know it all and overestimate your limits.
There are already many fatal accidents that happen due to climbers having no idea when to stop. Therefore, tell yourself you don’t know much and listen to people with more experience.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes, you get a second chance from a fall, but sometimes not.
What is the safest way to climb the Everest?
There are two common ways to climb the Everest. One is the South Col Route (Nepalese side), and the other is the Northeast Ridge Route (Tibetan side).
1. South Col Route
The South Col Route is the most popular and the easiest, safest way to summit Everest.
It starts from Nepal and offers better acclimation and a more slowly ascent. This is also the route that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay used to conquer the mountain in 1953.
The starting point of the South Col Route is the Base Camp at over 5,300 m. From there, you will ascend to four other camps, which gradually increase in height.
You will also have the chance to encounter the famous Khumbu Icefall, Lhotse Face, and Hillary Step.
2. Northeast Ridge Route
The Northeast Ridge Route starts from the Tibetan side of the Everest. This route helps you reach the peak sooner, but along with that are challenging trails and a longer time in higher altitudes.
It features the Three Steps – three prominent steps with deadly vertical sections on the second one.
Overcoming freezing temperatures and shallow oxygen levels, what’s waiting for you is the unique landscapes of the Sagarmatha National Park and a stunning sunrise at the top.
There are opportunities to interact with the local Sherpa people, too. You will get to know more about their culture and lifestyle.
How can climbers avoid problems at high altitudes?
The best way to avoid problems at high altitudes is always to ensure your safety. Don’t count on anyone other than yourself to check your equipment or make critical decisions.
Before your trip, ensure all your gear is in good condition. Have a look at the ropes, confirm that your carabiners are working just fine, calculate the amount of oxygen you will need again, etc. That’s a must.
During the trip, remember to one – look out for the weather and two – understand your limits. Don’t try to continue when the weather is bad or you don’t feel good (dizzy, exhausted, nauseous, and such).
How many days does it take to climb Mount Everest?
It takes about 2 months to summit Mount Everest. It would be best if you got used to the high altitudes with low oxygen levels and extreme weather.
When is the best time to climb Mount Everest?
The best time to climb Everest would be from April to May and September to October. The weather is generally good, and there is almost no chance of rainfall.
How do you prepare to climb Mount Everest?
To conquer the famous mountain, you will first need to pack all of your gear carefully. Then comes all the physical training to improve your strength, endurance, and flexibility.
Can you climb to the top of Mount Everest?
Yes, your expedition’s final destination will be Mount Everest’s peak at 8,848 m. So far, only about 5,000 people have reached this milestone – a minimal number.
Why is it so hard to climb Mount Everest?
Some of the main things that make climbing Everest so difficult are high altitudes, treacherous terrain, and harsh weather. The low oxygen level is also a big challenge.
How many people have died on Everest?
At least 310 people lost their lives while attempting to summit the Everest. That equals to between 5 and 10 people a year. Many of the bodies are still in the mountains.
Reaching the top of Mount Everest is a long and complicated journey.
Understanding the dangers is vital to better preparing yourself for a successful expedition. I hope this article did help you to do that.