Mount Everest

Mount Everest: The Tallest Mountain on Earth

Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth, located in the Himalayas Mountain range along the border between Nepal and Tibet. Rising to 29,032 feet (8,848 metres), Mount Everest has captivated people for centuries and continues to draw adventurers from around the world who are motivated to stand at the highest place on Earth.


Where is Mount Everest?

Mount Everest is part of the Himalayas, the expansive mountain range extending 1,500 miles (2,400km) across South Asia. Specifically, Mount Everest sits on the border between Nepal and Tibet, an autonomous region of China. The southern half of the mountain lies within Nepal's Sagarmatha National Park, while the northern half sits inside China's Qomolangma National Nature Preserve. These protected areas were established to safeguard the fragile alpine environment.


The summit of Mount Everest is located at 27°59'17" N 86°55'31" E. It sits about 100 miles (160km) east-southeast of Nepal's capital Kathmandu. The nearest major city is Xigaze in Tibet, located about 125 miles (200km) to the north. To reach Everest's higher camps and summit, mountaineers typically fly into Lukla Airport in Nepal and trek to the mountain's South Base Camp at an elevation of 17,598 feet (5,364m). The journey to Base Camp can take six to eight days, covering a distance of about 40 miles (65km) each way.


From Everest's North Base Camp in Tibet, the summit sits only 17 horizontal miles away. However, the vertical challenge is immense as climbers must ascend about 12,000 vertical feet. Despite the shorter horizontal distance, the route on the north side is regarded as more technically difficult. Most climbing expeditions approach Everest from the south due to easier access, even though it has a longer distance.


Mount Everest Height

First measured in 1856 by the Survey of India, Mount Everest stands at 29,032 feet (8,848 metres) above sea level. This makes it the tallest mountain on planet Earth. Not only is it the highest point above global mean sea level, but Everest also has the highest summit-to-base elevation change of any mountain on Earth at about 12,000 feet (3,658 metres).


Everest's precise height has been recalculated several times using improved surveying techniques:


  • 1856: 29,002 feet (8,840m)
  • 1955: 29,028 feet (8,848m)
  • 1975: 29,029 feet (8,848m)
  • 1999: 29,035 feet (8,850m)


The most recent and accurate measurement was made in 2020 using GPS satellite data, giving a height of 29,031.69 feet (8,848.86 m). This new elevation effectively means Mount Everest just shrunk by about 2.8 inches (7 cm). But the reduction in height was due to more accurate GPS technology rather than geological changes.


Despite these small changes due to precision of measurements, Everest has remained the tallest mountain for over 150 years since being declared the world's highest in 1856. The summit exceeds the second highest mountain, Mount K2, by over 900 feet.


How Long Does it Take to Climb Mount Everest?

The length of time it takes to climb Everest can vary greatly, but most expeditions last from six to eight weeks. Here is a rough breakdown of the timing and acclimatisation required:


  • Reach Base Camp: six to eight days
  • Acclimatisation and rotations up mountain: four to six weeks
  • Summit bid window: three to four days of good weather needed
  • Summit day climb: 12-24 hours from final camp


Upon arriving in Nepal or Tibet, teams require six to eight days of trekking to reach Everest Base Camp. This allows for proper altitude acclimatisation before gaining serious elevation.


At Base Camp, teams spend four-six weeks’ training, acclimatising, and completing practice climbs up and down the mountain. This helps the body adapt to oxygen deprivation at high altitudes. During this time, they make multiple rotations up to Camps 1, 2, 3, and 4 before returning to Base Camp.


Finally, climbers must wait for a narrow summit bid weather window of three to four days with low winds. They depart Base Camp and spend several days moving between higher camps to position for a single 24-hour summit push. The final ascent to the peak on summit day can take between 12 to 24 hours depending on conditions.


So in total, allow at least six to eight weeks to properly acclimatise and wait for weather before attempting to summit Mount Everest.


Top of Mount Everest

Reaching the top of Mount Everest is the ultimate achievement for climbers and adventurers around the world. The summit stands at 29,032 feet (8,848m) above sea level. At this towering elevation, Everest pierces into the stratosphere and offers incredible views across the Himalayan range and Tibetan plateau.


The summit ridge itself extends over 600 feet with multiple rises and peaks. The true highest point is about halfway along the undulating ridge crest. Here there is a small flattened section of snow encircled by prayer flags left by past climbers and Tibetans.


Being the apex of the tallest mountain on Earth, the summit provides a breathtaking 360-degree panorama. Peering down the sheer North Face drops into Tibet. To the south, plumes of snow stream from the South-West Face across Nepal. On very clear days, it's possible to see over 100 miles to the plains of India. Four of the world's six tallest peaks including Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu are also visible from this vantage point high above the Himalaya.


However, conditions on the summit are usually harsh. The "Death Zone" above 26,000ft has only a third of the oxygen at sea level. Combined with temperatures around -20°C and jet stream winds, climbers can only spend a maximum of 30 minutes at the top without risking death. But after enduring a slow and perilous climb to the top of the world, most can endure the conditions briefly to enjoy the stunning panorama.


Climbing Mount Everest

Climbing Everest takes immense fitness, willpower, determination and luck. The mountain imposes extreme challenges and hazards everywhere along its flanks. As of mid 2022, only around 6,500 people had successfully reached the top. The fatality rate is estimated between 5-10%.


The main routes to the summit are the South Col from Nepal and the North Ridge from Tibet. Each route has advantages and disadvantages, but the South is more frequently climbed for easier access to get supplies and manpower to Base Camp. Climbers spend weeks hiking to Base Camp while gradually acclimatising. Then they endure multiple rotations up and down the mountain between stocking camps and returning to Base to rest. These "rotations" are essential for the body to adapt to the high-altitude oxygen deprivation.


Waiting for a good summit weather window can take several weeks. The final summit bid is a continuous push making 12-24 hour non-stop ascent from the highest camp. This is when climbers face the full extremes of Everest with risks of blizzards, falls, equipment failure, hidden crevasses, and exhaustion. However, gaining the summit and taking in the majestic Himalayan panorama makes the hard-won victory incredibly rewarding for those bold enough to take on the planet's tallest mountain.


From the Top of Mount Everest

Gazing out from the summit of Mount Everest grants a perspective like no other place on Earth. At 29,032ft (8,848m), it is the highest viewing point on the planet. On a clear day, the panoramic views from Everest's peak stretch over 100 miles in every direction.


Looking north into Tibet, the entirety of the mountain's North Face sweeps dramatically beneath your feet for three miles down to the Rongbuk Glacier. The dark pyramid of Changtse rises nearby. In the distance, glimpses of Shishapangma (the only 8000m peak entirely within China) can be seen.


To the southeast, four of the world's five next highest mountains are visible. Lhotse and Makalu loom directly across the valleys, while Cho Oyu and the immense bulk of Dhaulagiri punctuate the horizon. Beyond, the Tibetan plateau rolls away to the distant curvature of the Earth.


In the other direction, the jagged ridgeline follows southwest towards Nepal. Plumes of snow stream continually off Everest's Southwest Face, whipped up by the jet stream winds. On exceptionally clear days, views all the way south to India and the Gangetic plain are possible over 100 miles distant.


However, conditions on the summit are usually hostile, offering a limited window to enjoy the views. Temperatures average -20°C combined with thin air containing only a third the oxygen of sea level. The howling winds and 'frozen hurricane' effect add further life-threatening risk during the permitted 30 minutes at the top of the world.


But after enduring a two-month journey covering 12,000 vertical feet through icefalls, avalanche zones and the “Death Zone" above 8,000m, those rare crystal clear moments atop Everest provide a hard-earned and rare perspective.


How Many People Have Climbed Mount Everest?

As of mid-2022, approximately 6,500 people have successfully climbed to the summit of Mount Everest since Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay first reached the peak in 1953. However, over 300 people have died trying, with the fatality count increasing every year as new waves of climbers attempt the risky ascent.


By the numbers, here are some key stats on Mount Everest ascents:


  • First ascent: 1953 by Hilary & Norgay (two people)
  • Total ascents by 2022: Around 6,500
  • Ascents in 2021 alone: Over 500
  • Summits by women: Over 1,000
  • Youngest summit: 13 years old
  • Oldest summit: 75 years old


In the early decades after the first ascent, only a handful of highly skilled climbers reached the top each year. But in the 1990s and 2000s, increasing commercialisation and availability of guides opened up Everest to more recreational climbers. During these decades, annual summits increased from dozens to hundreds per year.


In 2019, Everest saw a record number of summits at over 800 due to good weather windows. However COVID-19 then limited access in 2020. Traffic returned in 2021 with over 500 reaching the peak before bad weather curtailed the season. Permit backlogs suggest potential for very crowded future seasons unless restrictions are imposed.


While the number of people attaining the highest point on Earth continues to grow, Everest does not become proportionally easier or safer. The primary dangers of altitude sickness, exposure, falling, and exhaustion persist unchanged. Reaching the top of the tallest mountain on Earth will always require immense mental and physical determination.


Mount Everest Summit

The summit of Mount Everest stands at 29,032 feet (8,848m) above sea level, making it the highest point on the planet. Reaching the top is the ultimate goal for climbers on Everest, but standing on the summit is just one part of a perilous multi-week journey up and down the mountain.


The summit itself is a narrow, undulating snow ridge spanning about 600 feet (180m). Along this topmost ridge, there are several possible highest locations where the rock under the snow peaks slightly higher. The true apex is generally recognised as a flat flattish area a few feet wide circled by prayer flags, about midway across the ridge crest.


Being higher than anywhere else on Earth, the Everest summit provides phenomenal 300-degree views of the Himalaya, Tibet and on very clear days, the curvature of the Earth over 100 miles away. However, conditions are usually windy and bitterly cold at what is known as the "Third Pole." Temperatures average -20°C and jet stream winds exceeding 160kmph are common.


Climbers typically reach the summit in the pre-dawn hours after departing midnight from their highest camp. This allows them to descend before afternoon storms and deteriorating weather. After half a year of training, acclimatising and over two months on the mountain, climbers generally spend less than 30 minutes on the summit itself due to the inhospitable environment. But those moments atop the world are an unparalleled experience after completing such an ambitious and risky ascent.


What Country is Mount Everest In?

Mount Everest is located right along the border between Nepal and Tibet, an autonomous region of China. The precise border zigzags right along the main ridgeline and summit of Everest. Technically, half the mountain lies inside Nepal and half inside China.


The Tibetan side, lying to the north, is governed entirely as part of China. Mountains there fall under the jurisdiction of the Chinese Mountaineering Association. All northern ascents must follow rules set by China and get permits approved through Chinese authorities.


On the southern side, Everest falls inside Nepal within the borders of Sagamartha National Park. Nepal's tourism department controls access and climbing permits. Foreign visitor fees help support the Khumbu region where most Sherpa villages like Namche Bazaar are located on routes to the mountain.


This overlap between two nations has led to some disputes. In the 1950s, after Nepal opened Everest to climbing, Tibet asserted exclusive rights to issue permits for the summit itself. But an agreement was reached between Nepal and China to recognise climbers from both sides. Today, the joint management sees hundreds of people successfully summit Everest each year from both the Nepal and Tibet approaches.


Mount Everest Base Camp

Mount Everest has two main Base Camps on opposite sides of the mountain - one in Nepal (South Base Camp) and the other in Tibet (North Base Camp). These serve as the starting points and primary hubs for mountaineering expeditions attempting to climb Everest.


Everest's South Base Camp sits at 17,598ft (5,364m) elevation in Nepal. It takes a six- to eight-day trek covering over 40 miles to reach from Lukla airport. Teams first fly into Kathmandu, then take a shorter flight to Lukla to access the Khumbu Valley and follow the route up to Base Camp at the foot of the Khumbu Glacier.


From South Base Camp, it is possible to see the upper portion and Lhotse Face of the mountain soaring 7,000ft straight up into the clouds. Dozens of outfitter tents housing climbers sprawl across Base Camp during peak seasons. This is where teams acclimatise, train, and organise equipment for up to eight weeks before attempting to summit.


On the Tibet side, North Base Camp sits at 16,900ft elevation and enjoys views looking south at the massive mountain face. It takes only 2-3 days to reach by vehicle over a newly constructed road. With a shorter approach, the north side has a more abrupt vertical challenge of 12,000ft up to the summit from Base. While not as popular, North Base allows climbers access when political issues close Nepal's side.


No matter which route climbers use to ascend Everest, they rely on the relative safety and stability of Base Camps for months as they prep body and mind for the eminent challenge looming miles overhead. Both camps provide crucial access points to the tallest mountain on Earth.


Mount Everest Facts

  • Tallest mountain on Earth at 29,032 feet (8,848m)
  • Located along the border separating Nepal and Tibet (China)
  • First successfully summited by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953
  • Jet stream winds blow over 200mph (320 kph) across the summit
  • Nearly 300 people have died attempting to climb Mount Everest
  • Over 6,500 successful ascents as of 2022 since the first in 1953
  • Temperatures on the summit average -36°F (-20°C)
  • Called Chomolungma in Tibet meaning "Goddess Mother of Mountains"
  • Officially renamed Mount Everest for a British surveyor in 1865
  • Climbers must acclimatise for weeks at Base Camp at 17,500 feet elevation
  • Most climbers journey via South Col route from Nepal side
  • Record fastest ascent was under 17 hours by Pemba Dorje Sherpa in 2004
  • Khumbu Icefall with huge crevasses is one of the most dangerous sections
  • Body of mountaineer George Mallory who died in 1924 was found in 1999
  • Verified youngest summiteer was American Jordan Romero age 13 in 2010

The Tragic Side of Mount Everest

The extreme conditions and risks involved in climbing Mount Everest have resulted in over 300 deaths on the mountain since the 1920s. The corpses tend to be concentrated on the most perilous sections along the main climbing routes. For example, entire groups were lost in avalanches on the treacherous Khumbu Icefall. Higher up near the summit, many solo climbers have collapsed and died in the "Death Zone" above 8,000 metres. 


While an exact total is uncertain, some major climbing tragedies and trends have led to more deaths on Everest:


  • 1922: Seven sherpas die in an avalanche during first British expedition
  • 1953: Expedition doctor dies day before first successful summit
  • 1970s: About one death per year as commercial climbs gain traction
  • 1996: 15 killed in a storm making the deadliest day in history
  • 2000s: Annual fatalities rise to four/five a year on average
  • 2012-2019: On average six/seven deaths per year, mainly due to overcrowding and exhaustion on summit days
  • 2020: 13 deaths in a single season, the most since 2015

The primary cause of death for most climbers is from altitude sickness, particularly cerebral edema and pulmonary edema. These conditions cause fluid buildup and eventually suffocation. Blizzards and extreme cold also claim lives. About a third of fatalities are specifically from falls or avalanches.


On today's more crowded Everest, long hazardous delays during bottlenecks at key spots like the Hilary Step hike the likelihood of exhaustion, oxygen depletion and altitude sickness. But a century after its first ascent, Everest still catches out even experienced mountaineers attempting to reach the top of the world.


Many of the bodies remain on Everest today, as the high altitude and treacherous terrain make recovery extremely difficult. These fallen climbers earned the sad moniker of "Green Boots" and other nicknames. While the ethics of leaving bodies on Everest are debated, removal attempts are very risky and costly. However, in recent decades, Nepal and China have required climbers to deposit a refundable $4,000 deposit per body to encourage recovery of corpses if feasible. As it stands, over 200 corpses likely remain scattered across Everest's slopes and death zones.


Most bodies lie frozen in the "death zone" on the south side from 26,000 feet to 29,000 feet where thin air, blizzards, and frigid temperatures prevent successful recovery. However, a few famous bodies serve as sobering milestones and reminders of the dangers along the main routes. "Green Boots" is perhaps the most well-known. 


Estimates suggest over 120 bodies remain strewn across Everest's south side and at least 40 are visible on the Tibetan north side. However, the true number is uncertain, as scores of lost climbers disappeared into crevasses or were buried under seasons of ice and snow. Their bodies will likely never be recovered from the world's highest graveyard. 


While viewing the deceased climbers is disturbing, they do underscore the risks and serve as cautionary tales for those who follow in their footsteps up the tallest mountain on Earth. Their sacrifice and bravery are not forgotten. 


Green Boots Mount Everest

"Green Boots" is the name given to one of the most famous dead bodies on Mount Everest lying near the summit. It has served as a grim landmark for climbers heading to the peak since the late 1990s. Believed to be the body of Indian climber Tsewang Paljor who died in the 1996 disaster, Green Boots lies face-down across a narrow path around 27,900ft high on the North Face route that ascends from Tibet.


He earned his nickname due to the neon green climbing boots clearly visible on his frozen corpse's feet that stick up in the air, marking the trail. Other distinct identifiers include the DayGlo orange suit and black oxygen mask worn by the deceased. The corpse lies near a limestone cave alongside the main north ridge route. The cave offers shelter during storms, so the brightly coloured boots and body often serve as a path marker.


This famous corpse serves as a grim reminder to the living of the shared mortal risks they accept venturing into the Death Zone above 8,000m. While seeing Green Boots can be disturbing, it generally steels climbers to proceed with determination in the final push to the top of Everest.


Mount Everest from Space

From space, Mount Everest appears as a towering white pyramid piercing the atmosphere. The mountain's immense scale and height are put into humbling perspective when seen from orbit over 200 miles above Earth.


Everest's summit reaches just over 5.5 miles vertically from its base along the Tibetan plateau. Even from 180-250 miles above in the Low Earth Orbit commonly used by spacecraft, Everest stands out brightly capped with snow and clouds whipped by the jet stream.


Astronauts often photograph Everest's towering peak casting a dramatic shadow. From the ISS and other passing spacecraft, the mountain appears nestled amongst neighboring giants like Lhotse and Nuptse in the curved spine of the Himalayas.


While dwarfed by Everest’s massive foothills, the thin air of the Death Zone where over 200 people have perished also lurks invisibly near the summit. Only from afar can Everest's genuine scale and roof-of-the-world grandeur be fully appreciated.


Seeing Everest etched starkly white against the void of space emphasises how its allure endures across generations as an enduring symbol of humankind’s perpetual drive to overcome immense natural obstacles and reach for the heavens.

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