How Hard Is It To Climb Mount Everest?

12 Oct 2020 Peak Climbing Nepal

How Hard Is It To Climb Mount Everest?

Climbing Mount Everest (8848m) is a dream for any mountain climber. The highest mountain in the world provides you with an incredible adventure. The extreme difficulty level of this mountain also adds value to adventure. Climbers also need to complete a trek to Everest Base Camp (5,100m) along the rough terrains before the ascent.

Training with the use of mountaineering equipment like fixed ropes, crampons, carabiners, jumar, ascenders, etc is also necessary. Various sections of this mountain are quite dangerous including Khumbu icefall also known as “suicide passage’. Steep incline, altitude sickness, and thin air are some of the challenging aspects.

You will need to push hard with the help of fixed lines as they will assist you at all times. The ascent from the summit ridge to the top is short and accessible. The longer you spend in the Himalayas, the more chances are of you getting successful. So, proper acclimatization and adapting to the weather and climatic conditions will ensure the successful ascent.

Overall, climbing the highest mountain in the world is not a walk in the park. Climbers must consider all the risks and dangers involved with the climb. Hence, we have listed all the challenges you will face during the Mount Everest expedition. Read further to know more about how hard is it to climb Mount Everest and other relevant information in detail.

Table of Contents

What makes the climb of Mount Everest Difficult?

What makes the climb of Mount Everest Difficult

High Altitude or Elevation

Mount Everest lies at an altitude of 8848m above sea level. The airport at Lukla lies at a double altitude of Kathmandu. The elevation increases 600-800 meters per day, and the level of oxygen decreases as you move up along the trail. Acute Mountain Sickness caused by the increasing altitude can get fatal if not treated well in time. Having acclimatization breaks in the middle will help you a lot during your journey.

Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness is one of the most important factors that you need to consider for Mt. Everest climb. It gets caused by less amount of oxygen and air pressure that will affect your health. The higher you go up the trail, the lesser oxygen there is in the air. The Death Zone above 8,000m has minimal oxygen and thus many climbers require additional oxygen on this climb.

Acclimatization

It is necessary to acclimatize during this expedition and trek journey in the Everest region. Walking slowly and not rushing is quite important to tackle altitude sickness. Hydrating regularly along trek helps you to overcome dehydration. This way first-time trekkers who have not experienced any high altitude trek can prepare themselves. Altitude sickness can get tackled through these various acclimatization techniques.

Long duration

Mt. Everest expedition takes a long duration of time and preparation of around 60 days or two months. It has many challenges including extremely cold weather, low freezing temperature, and difficult climbing conditions. You need to acclimatize for a long duration before you could arrive at the summit and descend back.

The Everest expedition season generally begins in late March. They begin after you arrive at Everest base camp after taking a flight to Lukla. We then trek through Phakding, Namche, Tengboche, Dingboche, and Gorakshep before arriving at EBC. Southern Everest Base Camp (5,300 meters) is the starting point of the expedition.

The ice and it’s shifting maze are some of the hurdles that climbers need to face. Climbers will acclimatize at the camps at various stages of their journey. They acclimatize at the 4 to 5 days at the base camp and then climb halfway above the Khumbu glacier. And after acclimatizing for several days there they climb up to camp 1.

They will then acclimatize at camp 1 for two nights and descend back to the base camp. This gets done so that they get adapted to the high-altitude conditions of the Everest region. They climb again to camp 1 and stay a night there before they start ascending to camp 2 which is the base of Mt. Lhotse.

The ascending, acclimatizing, and then descending prepares you for the summit climb. The deadliest journey to the summit takes you to an altitude above 7925 meters which is also known as the “Death Zone”. The risk factor is very high hence it takes around 2 months to complete the Mount Everest expedition.

On a typically guided trek before the expedition, you will be covering about 15km per day. You will be trekking on quite rocky and rugged terrain that gets snowy at times. You will generally be hiking upwards while gaining altitude along the region. Porters or mules carry your luggage along the trail. Therefore, you should prepare for the trek to reach Everest Base Camp.






Weather and Temperature

Everest Base Camp to Summit

The weather is another factor that you should consider as snowstorms are quite common at the summit. Weather remains unpredictable in the region. Hence, you should check the weather forecast before starting your adventure and not ignore the warning signs.

Unpredictable weather also makes landing and taking off from Lukla is quite tricky. There are frequent flight delays or cancellations. Travelers frequently get stranded in airports due to bad weather in the past.

Air temperature decreases by 0.65 degrees Celsius per 100 meters of gain in altitude. At an elevation of 8,800m, temperatures range around 57 degrees Celsius less than at sea level. That means that the summit of Mount Everest is one of the coldest places on earth. Climbers will have to experience freezing temperatures at night and the sun’s heat-reflecting up from the snow of mountains in the day.

Everest Base Camp has unpredictable and challenging weather. Traveling to EBC, you might experience the incredible temperature range in the daytime. However, nights are much cooler when compared to daytime in the Everest region. The base camp temperature ranges around -12°C. However, the Base camp has a maximum temperature of 15°C and the wind speed ranges around 5 to 6 mph.

Avalanche

Everest is also known for its avalanches. There are specific areas where their occurrence is higher. On the routes to Mount Everest, these are the North Col, and South Col. There are also Khumbu Ice Falls also known as “Suicide Passage”. They need to get crossed to arrive at the summit.

You can not skip these but you can minimize their time in those areas. Try to cross early in the morning before the sun has warmed the snow. Falling ice and rocks are hazardous especially if they choose the Southeast route from Nepal. There are many avalanche prone areas near the Khumbu Ice Falls and another one near the South Col beneath the Lhotse Face.

Falls

One of the most dangerous aspects of the Mount Everest climb are falls. It is also one of the major causes of death on Everest. These are dangerous while climbing the high ridges and in the higher camps.

Stepping out of their tent in the dark ground covered in ice is one of the risk factors. Maintaining footwork, double-checking knots, and carabiners, are essential steps for climbing Mount Everest. Besides that, prior experience on snow and ice is also important.

Crevasses

Crevasses are cracks that appear in glacial ice which can swallow climbers if they are careless. The Nepalese side has the infamous Khumbu Ice Falls and the Western Cwm. To cross these crevasses safely, expedition teams tie ropes that they can drag anyone if they take a fall.

Lack of Training

The climb of Mt Everest requires extensive training at least 6 months before the expedition. This expedition gets preceded by a trek to Everest Base camp which makes the journey even more challenging. Hiring a personal trainer and spending some time spent in a gym will help you immensely to climb. Climbing Mount Everest is a serious expedition and that requires a proper preparation.

You can start training as early as possible. Performing exercise that helps to build your fitness, strength, and stamina are essential. Jogging, hiking, cycling, swimming, and others will help you immensely. Light weight-training is beneficial to gain desirable fitness levels as well. Hiking up and downhill will increase lung capacity and also help you build the stamina.

Summit Fever

The temptation to push on when you are struggling in mountains is quite real. But putting so much effort into high altitude conditions and the danger-ridden slopes of Mount Everest can lead to increased risks and challenges.

The mountain climbers can set a “turn around time” so that they know when to stop and head back down. You should be realistic when setting time and head back no matter how close you are to the summit. Keeping in mind motivations for being on the mountain also helps you a lot during the climb.

If you keep these things in perspective, then you might find your way less challenging, and it will also stop them from getting carried away. Do not risk your life, as it can get fatal quickly in high altitudes of Everest summit and especially if you are not trained professionally.

Improper Diet

Diet is one of the most important factors that you should consider before the expedition. Many climbers also return to Kathmandu due to an improper diet that leads to food poisoning. Hence, proper nutrition is essential for trek.

Since the slaughtering of animals is not allowed in the sacred Everest Region due to Buddhist beliefs. The meat hence needs to get transported to Lukla via flight and then carried to upper altitudes by yaks or porters. Since there is no proper refrigeration, food poisoning is common and thus you should avoid eating meat items along the trail.

The typical Nepali meal of dal bhat is quite common along the trail which includes rice, dal (pulses), lentils, vegetables, spinach, Gundruk, and pickles. This dal bhat is a nutritious meal for your journey. For drinking water, you can fill water from tea houses along the trail and carry water purification tablets with you.

You should also carry proper snacks to munch on during the trek including protein bars, snickers, chocolate bars, and other vitamin supplements. If you are a picky eater, these snacks will help you along to get proper nutrients during the trek.

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The Climbing Routes to Mount Everest?

Mount Everest Climbing route

After climbers arrive at Everest Base Camp, they will set up tents with the help of Sherpa guides. Besides that, acclimatization by going up and down is also essential for adapting to high altitude conditions. The climbers approach the mountain from the south side passing through the infamous Khumbu icefall and Glacier.The South route is less challenging technically once you cross the Khumbu icefall. Climbers need to cross crevasses and seracs through ladders, and short ice cliffs around camp 3. There are rock sections that get equipped with fixed lines. The Khumbu Icefall is dangerous as it has large crevasses and has much falling ice.

The Sherpa crew will install ladders across crevasses and ice walls and set the route through the icefall. This process makes crossing the Khumbu icefall possible, and relatively safe.

Summit Attempt from South Side

Climbing Mount Everest is more popular from the Nepalese side. The southern side through EBC South Nepal is easier than from the North. The Everest Base Camp trek precedes the summit climb in Nepal. This will include several acclimatization days along the journey and then climbing to various camps and returning.

Various Camps along the Route

Camp 1 (6000m) is a resting and transition location to Camp 2 (6400m). There are large crevasses close to camp 1 which get installed with ladders for safety. Camp 2 lies at the bottom west ridge and provides incredible views of Lhotse. Most climbers set-up their camp with kitchen and dining located in a lateral moraine. It is the base for camp 3 and is generally used for acclimatization.

Camp 3 (7200m) lies on a small ledge on the Lhotse wall. Climbers cross the glacier and climb 40 deg. 600m on the snowfield to arrive at Camp 3. There are numerous fixed ropes installed on 3m ice cliffs along the route. Camp 4 (7950m) is easily accessible without supplementary oxygen located at South Col.

South Col to Balcony:

The climb from Camp 4 in South Col to the summit is about 500m. There are violent winds of gayle force that are quite dangerous and can derail the expedition. Climbers can use the narrow South-East Ridge for the summit climb.

The four-hour climb from south col to Balcony is a challenge for all climbers. You can take a half-an-hour break at the balcony. After the break, you can climb towards the south summit. Climbing around two and a half hours from the balcony will lead you to the south summit. A half-an-hour break at the south summit allows you to relax and experience the incredible Himalayan view and atmosphere.

At the south col, we take a long break for rest and acclimatization. Climbers take around nine to eighteen hours to the summit from South Col. There are certain tour operators and crews that decide to spend a night at the South Col. But you should make sure there are extra oxygen supplements as staying at the high altitude without supplemental oxygen can turn deadly. The high-altitude conditions are challenging and your body will not function properly without supplemental oxygen.

After the summit climb, we experience around the region and climb for an hour to arrive at the Hilary step. From Hilary step, we descend for nearly half-an-hour. From there, we will then descend to the balcony which takes around two hours. South Col from Balcony only takes an hour.

We spend a night at South Col or descend to camp 2 based on your itinerary and stay there overnight. At camp 2, we will not require supplemental oxygen which reduces your cost of climbing. We will then return back to base camp via camp 1.

Outline Itinerary for Everest Expedition

Mount Everest temperature

Day 01: Arrive at Kathmandu [1345m/4411ft] & transfer to Hotel.

Day 02: Sightseeing in Kathmandu & Climbing Preparations.

Day 03: Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla [2800m/9184ft] & Trek to Phakding [2640m/8659ft]

Flight duration: 45 minutes

Maximum altitude: 2,845 m

Trek duration: 3 hrs

Trekking distance: 10 Km

Day 04: Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar [3440m/11283ft]

Maximum altitude: ‎3,440 m

Trek duration: 5-6 hrs

Trekking distance: 4 Km

Day 05: Rest and Acclimatization day at Namche Bazaar.

Day 06: Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche [3867m/12683ft]

Maximum altitude: 3,870 m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

Trekking distance: 9.5 Km

Day 07: Trek from Tengboche to Dingboche [4260m/13972ft]

Maximum altitude: 4,410 m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

Trekking distance: 11 Km

Day 08: Trek from Dingboche to Lobuche [4930m/16170ft]

Maximum altitude: 4,940 m

Trek duration: 5-6 hours

Trekking distance: 11 Km

Day 09: Trek from Lobuche to Gorakshep [5180m/16990ft]

Maximum altitude: 5,363 m

Trek duration: 7 hours

Trekking distance: 15 Km

Day 10: Morning Hike to Kalapatthar [5545m/ 18187ft]; Back to Gorakshep & Trek to Everest Base Camp [5380m/17646ft]

Maximum altitude: 5,545 m

Trek duration: 8 hours

Trekking distance: 13 Km

Day 11-13: Rest, Acclimatization & Climbing preparations at EBC

Day 14-60: Ascend Mount Everest [8848m/29021ft] & back to Base Camp

Day 61: Trek from Everest Base Camp to Pheriche [4243m/13917ft]

Day 62: Trek from Pheriche to Tengboche

Maximum altitude: 4,280 m

Trek duration: 4-5 hours

Trekking distance: 11 Km

Day 63: Trek from Tyangboche to Namche Bazaar

Maximum altitude: 4,280 m

Trek duration: 4-5 hours

Trekking distance: 11 Km

Day 64: Trek from Namche Bazaar to Lukla

Maximum altitude: 3,440 m

Trek duration: 4 hours

Trekking distance: 10 Km

Day 65: Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu

Maximum altitude: 2,845 m

Flight duration: 35 minutes

Day 66: Transfer to International Airport for your final departure

Training Required For The Mount Everest Climb

How old is Mount Everest

To climb Mount Everest, you must know how hard is it to climb Mount Everest. Climbers need to be in great shape either physically, emotionally, as well as psychologically. Strength endurance, strong cardiovascular conditioning, and high-altitude tolerance will make it easier for you to complete this journey to the highest mountain peak in the world. Some of the training regime required for the expedition are as follows:

Technical mountaineering training

Some of the benchmarks for physical conditioning include previous trips above 20,000 ft. where you must have dealt with mountaineering gear like fixed ropes, carabiners, ascenders, jumar, crampons, and equipment. You should also be able to tackle cold temperatures and extreme altitude.

A solid crampon skills on rock, snow, and ice is essential to tackle rugged terrains to the summit. Rappelling with a pack on and using jumars and ascenders on a fixed-line is also required. Alpine living along with snow and ice-climbing skills is a must for any high altitude climbing expedition.

Strength and endurance training

You should look to build your strength and endurance before you tackle the terrains of the Everest region and arrive at the top of Mount Everest. Focus on building physical conditioning at lower altitudes on successive days carrying around 50–60 lbs. Although you will not carry much weight during your journey, you need to condition your body with high tolerance.

This way you will build extra reserves that work well when you will start to lose musculature and body fat from being at high altitude conditions for over two months. This physical preparation training allows you to be in good health and injury-free.

Cardiovascular training

Cardiovascular training is another important part of the training regime. It should include aerobic exercises like jogging, cycling, swimming, and others. Pack-loaded uphill hiking, stair climbing, and walking will also help you along the journey. These exercises will help you expand your lungs and help you breathe easily in high altitude where you will stay for more than two months.

Flexibility training

Training well ahead at least six months before or a year is essential. A solid fitness level at least the last six to nine months will help you during the expedition. Climbers need to gradually increase hike time, distance, and elevation gain to build and attain climbing-specific conditioning. You should not rush on this training as it can increase the risk of training injury.

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Final Say

Mount Everest expedition is one of the extreme challenges that require you to be in a fit condition. Climbers also complete the spectacular Everest base camp trek before the climb. A proper training regime is essential to reduce the level of difficulty of the climb.

Moreover, the high altitude conditions and altitude sickness makes the journey even more challenging. So, proper acclimatization can help you get adjusted to the weather, and climatic conditions to ensure successful ascent of the peak.

The highest mountain in the world is not a walk in the park. Climbers must consider all the risks and dangers involved with the climb. I hope you learned about how hard is it to climb Mount Everest through this article. Contact us for more details!