Why Climbing Everest Is Dangerous?

What is the Height of Everest? Who was the First Person to ascent it? What is Altitude Sickness and its Dangers? What are the Death Zone and Rainbow Valley?

Adventure, Awareness, Death, Safety

Sometimes people become over adventurous and put their lives at stake. In addition to that, mountain climbing attracts people from across the world. Though they have heard various stories and documentaries stating why climbing Everest is dangerous, they can’t stop their adventurous spirit. Today you will also get to know about the dangers along with the list of bodies on Everest and people lost in Everest’s death zone.

1. What is Everest?

It is the highest mountain on our Earth located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. It is also known as Sagarmatha, while in the Tibetan language people call it Chomolungma, which means Holy Mother. Also, check out 16 Snowing in the Mountains Facts.

2. What is the Height of Mount Everest?

According to the Chinese and Nepali authorities, the height or elevation of Mount Everest in 2021 is 8849 meters (29032 feet) above sea level. (See What is the Northern Most State in the U.S.?)

3. When did people start Climbing?

It was after the 1st reconnaissance expedition by the British that they made in 1921. In this attempt, the mountaineers managed to cover 7000 meters (22970 feet) of the Everest elevation. Then again, in the 1922 expedition, they climbed from the northern ridge up to 8320 meters (27300 feet). It was the first-ever experience of a human to reach above the altitude of 8000 meters (26247 feet). (See Why do people climb Mount Everest?)

4. Who was the First Person to go missing on Everest?

It was the British Mount Everest Expedition, 1924, when two English mountaineers named Andrew Irvine and George Mallory took part in the expedition. They made a final attempt on 8th June to ascent Mount Everest. But they never returned, yet another reason why climbing Everest is dangerous. Also, check out what does Nomad Stand For?

5. Who ascent Everest for the first time?

The first recorded ascent of Everest was made in 1953. Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountaineer, and Tenzing Norgay, an Indian-Nepali Sherpa mountaineer, made this successful ascent. (See What is a Gondola ride?

6. Why climbing Everest is Dangerous?

Mountain climbing is always dangerous, but climbing the highest peak of the earth can be far more dangerous than a person can assume. The reasons why climbing Everest is dangerous are,

  • Altitude Sickness, Avalanche,
  • Crevasses, Khumbu Icefall, Long duration,
  • Oxygen deprivation, Psychological and neurological conditions,
  • Risk of fall, Summit fever, Unbearable cold temperatures,
  • Waiting due to overcrowding, and weather conditions. (See How are Typhoons formed?)

7. What is Altitude Sickness and its Dangers?

Climbing Everest takes time and spending such a long time at these high altitudes causes disorders like High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). In these conditions, the blood vessels in the brain begin to release liquids, which leads to neurological dysfunction. In the most severe cases, it can lead to coma. (See Why do some people like camping?)

8. How does Oxygen Deprivation affect Mountaineers?

With an increase in altitude, the level of oxygen decreases rapidly, which can cause delusional mistakes. While climbing, mountaineers have to make quick and accurate decisions, but with not enough supply of oxygen to the brain, they are unable to do so which makes a major reason why climbing Everest is dangerous. (See How Do We Get Sick?)

9. How bad is the Weather?

For every 100 m height the temperature decreases by 0.65 degrees Celsius, while during nights it is going to be colder than that. Winds with harsh hurricane-like intensity hinder the visibility, which can be dangerous. (See When do Days Start to get Longer?)

Another reason why climbing Everest is dangerous, is the instability of ice on Everest. Its instability has increased with climate changes. Also, the seracs (huge pillars or blocks of ice formed where crevasses intersect) that stood for decades may collapse in an instance while a climber climbs. 

10. What are the Chances of a Climber falling?

Many times, a little carelessness while climbing the ridge may lead to death fall. Climbing at night, loose knots and carabiners, and climate changes are the responsible factors. Also, the presence of crevasses and their invisibility at times can be life-threatening to climbers. (See 10 Tips to Know If You Were Stranded on a Desert Island)

11. How can Summit fever be fatal?

Every climber dream of reaching the top, but it is better to stick to reality. And without necessary aid and experience, this can be fatal. Also, neglecting the need to return to the summit base posed dangers to the climbers. Moreover, there is a condition called Hypoxia that can build cognitive traps, making the climbers push harder than their capability by hindering their ability to think clearly. Also, being stubborn prove to be a life-taking decision in such places. (See Why do people skydive?)

12. How does Overcrowding affects?

There are various points and places that only one person at a time can cross. This can be time-consuming and you have to wait in line for hours because the more people, the more time it will take. Also, if a tired climber may get clumsy or even fall, it will definitely affect the other climbers too. Also, check out the 8 sand storms facts.

13. What is the Death Zone?

Why climbing Everest is dangerous and it is related to Death Zone? Well, the region above the altitude of 8000 m (26247 feet) on Mount Everest, is known as the Death Zone. Various climbers died after this bottleneck range in the death zone. This region is below the peak and is considered the most dangerous region. According to the researchers, the decrease in oxygen levels and blood glucose levels makes a person delusional, making the climbers slow in performing tasks. They even lose their memory and self-control, leading to death in the valley. Also, check out how long does it take for a Body to Decompose Underground?

14. What is a Rainbow Valley?

The range between 8000 m and above is termed the rainbow valley where bodies of dead mountaineers are accumulated. It is known as the Everest Graveyard, while it got its name Rainbow Valley because of the brightly colored mountaineer suits. Must read about the vending machine deaths.

15. What is the List of Bodies on Everest?

Paul Firth, an anesthesiologist, led a team in 2008 and then published his report in the British Medical Journey, that more than 14000 Sherpas and Everest climbers died between 1921 and 2006. It is said that more than 200 bodies are still on Everest. According to him, the reason why climbing Everest is dangerous is because of the death which was a trauma caused either by hazards like avalanches or falls. 

  • 1924: George Mallory, an English mountaineer, became the first person to set foot on Everest. During his 3rd attempt with Andrew Irvine, they were the last person from the group but they hardly reached the 2550 m altitude and went missing, according to the Roughly 7900 m, by Noel Odell. 
  • 1979: Two experienced mountaineers, Hannelore and her husband Gerhard attempted a summit. They were divided into 2 groups and Gerhard led the first group. Later, he warned his wife about the changing weather, but still, she moved on. On their way back, they were exhausted and made a shelter, but due to exhaustion and thirst, Hannelore died at an altitude of 8300 m. Her body remained for years on the mountain. 
  • 1996: Tsewang Paljor attempted a summit in 1996 but was caught in the Everest Disaster. His body was discovered in 2014 and was moved out of visibility. Two mountaineers, Rob and Doug, began the summit but weather conditions took a toll. Doug died due to a lack of oxygen and Rob also died at an altitude of 8690 m. Though his body was found a week later, it is still in the mountains. Scot Fischer, a guide for the 1996 summit, also suffered from exhaustion from rescuing. He was rescued but the group of Sherpas could not take him down. Anatoli Boukreev, another guide, went to rescue him but found him dead. Anatoli moved his body from the main path and covered it. (See Why do We Wear Black to Funerals?)
  • 1998: Francys Arsentiev and her husband Sergei Arsentiev began their summit without bottled oxygen, which took them longer than usual to ascent. They both lost sight of each other after a few days. When other climbers made several attempts to rescue them, they failed. Her body is still missing at the heights of the mountain. Sergei also went missing, however, his body was found a year later. In 2007, Ian Woodall found and covered the wife’s body with the USA flag, and she was named Sleeping Beauty.
  • 2006: David Sharp, an American climber, started a solo mission without any Sherpa or radio. He took shelter in a cave where he suffered frostbites and frozen limbs. His rescue was impossible his body remained in the cave, and after a year, it was not visible. 
  • 2012: Shriya Shah-Klorfine was successful in making the summit but failed in retreating. She collapsed due to exhaustion at an altitude of 8000 m, where her body was found draped in the Canadian flag. After a few months, her body was brought down and then flown off by the helicopter.  (See How many People have Died on The Stratosphere?)

16. What if lost in Everest’s Death Zone?

Climbers lost in the death zone hardly have any chances to survive. They are either found frozen or dead after years. In order to help, a TV program named Lost in Everest’s death zone was aired that contains the details of the expedition from 1999. (See How Long does it take a Body to Decompose in Water?)

Well, now you know why climbing Everest is dangerous. Also, you can share the list of bodies on Everest and lost in Everest’s death zone to raise awareness regarding this activity. (Also read What Causes Potholes?)

About the author
Alex Williams is a PhD student in urban studies and planning. He is broadly interested in the historical geographies of capital, the geopolitical economy of urbanization, environmental and imperial history, critical urban theory, and spatial dialectics.

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