Dangers of Climbing Mount Everest

20 Mar 2021 Prakash Devkota

Dangers of Climbing Mount Everest

Mount Everest expedition is a pinnacle of mountaineering. It is an adventure of a lifetime that involves the harsh challenges and dangers of Climbing Mount Everest. The crown jewel of the Mahalangur Himalayan range attracts hundreds of climbers every year.

Climbing the tallest mountain peak in the world, Mt. Everest (8848.86m) comes with its set of challenges. There are various risk factors that mountaineers have to face during their journey. Tactical methodology and expert training are essential for this incredible mountain climbing expedition.

Moreover, there is a “death zone” above 8000m. It is the most dangerous section of the route. Extreme freezing weather at high altitudes is one of the top challenges during this climb. There are crevasses on ice that can swallow climbers in an instant. Besides that, avalanches and falls can be fatal for climbers as they are quite unpredictable.

Furthermore, climate change has played a significant role in impacting Mount Everest’s condition. Substandard management, summit fever, oxygen deprivation, are also dangers of climbing Mount Everest. However, proper training and proper mountaineering management will lead you to success.

Read further for the detailed description of the risks of climbing Mount Everest. You can also learn about various tips regarding this trip and other related information.

What are the Dangers of Climbing Mount Everest?

Mount Everest temperature

Altitude Sickness

Acute mountain sickness is one of the most challenging aspects of any high-altitude peak climbing adventure. It is quite evident in the Mt. Everest expedition as well. Climbers get affected as there is less oxygen and air pressure in the atmosphere. After a certain point, most climbers will require supplementary oxygen to move ahead on the route.

Therefore, climbers will acclimatize for a long duration in the base camp and above. Everest climbers can face life-threatening health risks of altitude sickness is not treated in time. There are various camps en route to Everest summit where you will adapt to conditions for a long duration of time.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) are forms of altitude sickness. In these conditions, fluid leaks from blood vessels in the brain lead to neurologic dysfunction, and can even lead to coma. Hence, acclimatization at regular intervals along with proper rest is essential.

Moreover, you can find many acclimatization spots in the area. You should also descend and then sleep at a lower altitude region. This will help you adapt quickly to high-altitude regions. Anti-nausea tablets like Diamox will also help you to tackle symptoms of acute mountain sickness in the region.

Unpredictable Weather

The weather remains quite unpredictable in the Everest region. This adds significant difficulty to the Mount Everest expedition. Weather in the Everest region changes within a span of a few hours. Many climbers start their climbing journey in good weather but get caught out by storms out of nowhere.

A good forecast will help you immensely during your journey. You should not ignore the early warning signs and go by your gut instinct. Climbers should choose the best season for their climb. April and May in Spring are ideal for expeditions in the Everest region. Some climbers also try to climb in offseasons, but that is quite a challenge.

Extreme cold Temperature

The temperature at the higher altitude in the Everest region is extremely freezing at all times. It decreases by 0.65 degrees Celsius per 100 meters as you move up in your expedition. At the Mount Everest summit, the temperature will be around 57 degrees Celsius less than at sea level.

If you add various factors like harsh hurricane-force winds and storms, the temperatures are even more challenging. Nighttime temperature is colder in the region. Harsh rays of the sun reflected from the Silver mountains will cause a challenge.

Moreover, the summit of Mount Everest is one of the coldest places on earth. Climbers should wear warm clothes and use proper gears that are ideal for mountaineering. Hence, extremely cold temperatures are one of the dangers of climbing Mount Everest in the Himalayas.

Khumbu icefall

The Khumbu icefall formed by the Khumbu glacier is another challenge on route to Everest summit. It moves rapidly so that climbers find to move through large crevasses as they open without any warning. The large chunks of ice (seracs) collapse suddenly, causing difficulty in this route. There is ice tumbling down the glacier in huge blocks. The glacier trickles down an average of 0.9 to 1.2 m (3 to 4 ft) of ice every day.

Moreover, the icefall remains frozen in the early morning before sunrise due to cold temperatures during the night. Hence, it is less able to move which is an ideal time to travel and traverse. There is harsh sunlight that reflects from silver mountains that warms the area.

Furthermore, the friction lessens between the ice structure, which increases the chances of ice falling. Besides that, blocks of snow, crevasses opening, and others are also in a higher amount. The Khumbu Icefall is ideal in the early morning and quite dangerous in the mid to late afternoon.

Acclimatized professional climbers are quite good with ascending. However, beginner climbers need at least 10-12 hours. “Camp I” lies beyond the Khumbu Icefall on Everest’s South Col route. An enormous ice crashing creates a blast of displaced air that results in a “dusting.” If climbers get caught inside it, they can experience a lot of danger and risks.


Dangers of Climbing Mount Everest Avalanche

The avalanches on the slopes of Mount Everest are quite a risk. There are specific areas where the risk of avalanches is relatively high. The North Col and South Col are the two most avalanche-prone areas in the mountain. Besides that, Khumbu Ice Falls is also infamously known as “Suicide Passage” for its frequent avalanche.

Moreover, the expedition starts early in the morning before the sun has warmed the snow as it can create avalanches. Falling ice and rocks in the southeast route is quite hazardous. There is Khumbu Ice Falls, at the South Col just below the Lhotse Face.

Avalanches are quite common in a region. You can find many professional guides who will help you with these avalanches and put you in a safe place. However, you should ensure that you get service from the best trekking and mountaineering agency.

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Summit Fever

The temptation to push for a summit after such an arduous journey and an incredible amount of effort is understandable. But the danger-ridden slopes of Mount Everest require a practical approach. The mountaineers should set a “turnaround time” so that they can back down no matter how close the Summit.

You should select a realistic goal that you can stick to no matter what. A strict turnaround time to turn around and forgo the Summit saves many lives. You should keep your motivations clear on being the mountain. It would help if you keep everything in perspective and do not get carried away from the towering height of Mount Everest.

Moreover, there have been many fatalities on Mount Everest. Therefore, you should not risk your life even if you are a professional mountaineer. Hypoxia can also lead to summit fever as mountaineers try to push harder. A climber’s “cognitive traps” can stop their ability to think logically. Moreover, they use brute force and stubborn determination instead. These cognitive traps happen mostly near the top and can cause many accidents.


Crevasses are cracks that sometimes appear in glacial ice. The Khumbu Ice Falls on the Nepali side has many crevasses along trails. Fixed ropes get tied between team members to rescue someone even if they take a fall.

Crevasses often have walls, which can melt and create seracs and other formations of ice. These sizes of crevasses depend upon the liquid amount present. Some of them are even as deep as 45 meters.

The crevasses are invisible at most times and can turn fatal to climbers making their way through a glacier. Climbers must get trained with the proper equipment and rope work to continue their journey to the top of Mount Everest.

Lack of experience

Mt. Everest expedition is not a walk in the park. It requires proper training and climbing experience in the smaller mountain peaks. Inadequate mountaineering training can lead to accidents and injuries at extreme altitudes.

Many less experienced climbers fail to estimate their physical limits. Thus, they succumb to many dangers of climbing Mount Everest. Too many accidents turn fatal because of climbers having no clear idea on when to stop climbing and return.


Falls are one of the primary causes of risks of climbing Mount Everest expeditions. Climbing or descending on the high ridges is quite scary as a tiny moment of carelessness can lead to deep falls. Stepping out at night on icy paths can be quite a challenge as well.

Climate should have a good experience in snow and ice. They must maintain footwork and double-check knots and carabiners during the expedition. Falls are entirely unexpected, which puts climbers in a lot of danger.

Hence, climbers should take proper instructions from professional guides and their team leaders. Team leaders will help you find the right path without any trouble. One pro tip is to get services from a leading trekking and mountaineering agency that does not compromise on facilities.

Other climbers

Crowds of mountaineers and climbers are another danger factor in Everest expeditions. There have been many pictures of climbers and mountaineers getting lined up at Hillary’s step on the route to Mount Everest. There is a vertical rock face at the bottom of “Hillary Step”.

There only one climber can pass at a time, which is quite challenging as all other mountaineers have to wait in a long line at extremely cold temperatures. The mountain is quite famous among mountaineers. Hence, overcrowding is one of the biggest problems of the Mount Everest expedition.

If a climber takes a wrong step or slips or even falls, all other climbers will get affected by it. Mount Everest makes climbers tired, slow, clumsy and they can lose equilibrium. This also makes them disoriented and lose composure. Mountaineers neglect and cause simple mistakes that could hamper or cause dangers to other climbers’ lives.

Oxygen Deprivation

Oxygen supplement is essential in the Everest expedition, especially above the height of 8000m and above. Only the most accomplished mountaineers can climb Everest without supplemental oxygen. If any climber gets oxygen deprivation, it can decrease their ability to think and also lead to brain cell damage.

There are extreme weather conditions, low temperatures, and challenging routes. These factors require climbers to make decisions quickly and accurately. Oxygen deprivation in the Everest region can lead to fatal mistakes. Slippery ice and subzero temperatures are other important dangers of climbing Mount Everest.

Sub-standard Mountaineering Management

Many mountaineering companies cut costs in mountaineering gear and technical backup. This leads to compromise in clients’ safety. Inexperienced tour operators are not favorable. Hence, a well-established mountaineering company is a must when it comes to the Mount Everest expedition.

Climate change

Everest region is an extreme place on earth. Many climbers have perished in this mountain since this peak has been open for climbing in the mid-twentieth century. The ice on Everest is unstable, with climate change as its primary risk of the Everest expedition.

There are 50 to 100-foot columns intersecting glacier ice crevasses in the Everest region. These collapsing seracs are quite a threat. Seracs can be quite dangerous as they can stand stable for decades but then fall over in an instance. This triggers avalanches and wipes off villages down the mountain.

There have been many seracs collapses in the Khumbu Icefall, Everest’s southeastern face. Climate-related risks in this dangerous section are quite high. Recent studies have shown that glaciers in Mount Everest could shrink by 70 percent this century. This makes climbing Everest unstable.

Long duration

Everest expedition is one of the longest climbing journeys that takes around two months to complete. Mountaineers need to camp, ascend, descend and acclimatize. Moreover, then they need to keep this process running for almost two months.

It will help you summit the mountain with ease. Before that, you should also trek for around two weeks in remote and rugged terrains to arrive at the base camp of the highest mountain in the world.

Neurological And Psychological conditions.

Neurological and psychological conditions are other factors that can impact your Everest expedition. It can impair the judgment of climbers hampering the expedition. Hypoxia is a condition when the brain doesn’t get its accurate amount of oxygen. It can impair judgment drastically. Hence it is the most dangerous factor on Everest.

Simple math problems and memorizing something at such high altitudes becomes quite a task in these conditions. Turnaround times should agree upon in advance between climbers and expedition leaders. Professional guides should also follow this protocol strictly so that they cannot get stuck in cognitive traps.

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    Be responsible for your safety

    You are responsible for your safety at all times during any high-altitude adventure. You will know how you feel in any situation and thus you can proceed accordingly. Therefore, you should not depend upon anyone when it comes to a dangerous situation. Take control of your gear and climbing decisions. Moreover, you should set up your own turnaround time and then return back no matter how close you reach the summit.

    Using technical gears

    Do use fixed ropes and other technical gears. The use of old ropes has led to fatal accidents in the Everest region in the past. Check the screws, and do not climb with many climbers at once. You should not lean on ropes as well. Crampons are essential in steep ascents like the Lhotse wall. The self-arrest technique is also quite popular among climbers.

    Check the weather forecast

    The weather is one of the most challenging aspects as it is quite unpredictable. Wonderful weather turns into a snowstorm and deadly conditions within hours. Prepare at all times with proper gear and a backup plan. Check weather forecasts and plan accordingly. Moreover, a large number of climbers do not always mean safety.

    Bad weather can defy forecasts. Since mountains create their temporary weather and there are no weather stations in Everest summit. It would help if you worked according to the forecast but also use your gut instinct. Fixed ropes and knowledge of using ropes are essential during the Mount Everest expedition.

    Know your limits

    You should learn about yourself and know your limits well. Staying at high altitudes for a long duration of time can lead to many mental health problems including depression. This is because the environment has less amount of oxygen. Nightmares and bad moods are common symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

    Self-confidence and a positive attitude are essential to an Everest climb. However, you should not push yourself beyond your limits as it can lead to fatal accidents. This phenomenon is a cognitive trap known as “summit fever”.

    Hydrate regularly

    Hydrating regularly is essential for the high altitude mountain peak climb. Dehydration in high altitude regions can lead to headaches, frostbite, edema, and others. It is also the primary cause of altitude sickness among climbers. Therefore, you should hydrate regularly with water and other fluids.

    Stay safe from avalanche-prone areas

    Avalanches are quite common in the region. Avoid climbing heavy snow areas. The Lhotse wall or the North wall is an avalanche-prone area, and therefore you should climb swiftly. You should take the help of team leaders and professional guides in these conditions as they are not safe.

    Keep track of your stuff.

    Oxygen bottles, trekking gear, backup gears, first aid kits, and others are some of the essential items. You should keep track of these items during Mount Everest. Preparation is essential to success in the Mount Everest expedition.

    Medicate yourself if necessary

    The altitude above 19,000 feet is also known as “the death zone,” which brings many health risks. Many Medicines will help you decrease the effects of high altitude. Acetazolamide (Diamox) is ideal for mild edema, and dexamethasone (Decadron) for treating brain edema.

    Moreover, they also reverse acute mountain sickness symptoms to some extent. Immediate descent is essential even if you take these medications.

      Final Say

      How Tall is Mount Everest

      Mount Everest is a great mountaineering expedition that is on a bucket list of many climbers. Climbing Mount Everest has many challenges and risk factors during their journey. Extreme weather is one of the major challenges of this expedition.

      Crevasse, avalanches, and falls can be quite fatal for climbers. Climate change has impacted Mount Everest’s climbing condition as well. You can also find other factors like low-cost management, long duration, summit fever, lack of experience, and others. These are various risks of climbing Mount Everest.

      A proper training routine to gain fitness and stamina is also quite important. You should get the services of experienced trekking and expedition operators for a safe and adventurous climb. We hope you learned about the dangers of climbing Mount Everest and other relevant information in detail.


      Prakash Devkota

      Managing Director and Team Leader

      Mr. Prakash Chandra Devkota is a well-known entrepreneur with a deep-rooted passion for elevating the tourism industry in Nepal. Due to his dedication, hard work, and hospitable nature, he has established himself as a successful businessman. He also has a great enthusiasm for adventure and social work.

      Mr. Devkota hails from the beautiful hilly region of Gorkha District. He started his career as a guide in 1997 and quickly became a reputed figure in the Tourism Industry because of his extensive experience. He has gathered impressive experience in all Trekking and Climbing Routes, such as Mera, Island, Lobuche, Ama Dablam etc.

      His success also lies in his brilliant mind and hospitable nature. He is fully dedicated to providing excellent services and introducing innovative concepts. With more than 15 years of experience in trekking and expedition operations in Nepal, Tibet, India, and Bhutan, he has earned a reputation as a renowned leader in the field. He understands the importance of personalized service for creating memorable experiences for his clients and constantly seeks innovative company operation methods. He strongly believes in the power of the tourism industry and is confident that its development can empower the youth and help the economy flourish in the long run.