For those who love Everest, the arrival of the official summit numbers is always a milestone. The Himalayan Database was updated with the latest summit statistics on February 14, 2014 – a nice valentines gift!
The Database contains the summit records for almost all of the Himalayan peaks located in Nepal and Tibet from 1905 to present day. It is maintained by a small team of devotees lead by the legendary Ms. Elizabeth Hawley out of Kathmandu. See this wonderful video interview of her.
I last met her during my 2013 Manaslu climb. You can read about it here. As I have mentioned many times, meeting with Ms. Hawley is a highlight, and a stress point, of each expedition.
She arrives at your hotel with clipboard in hand asking about your occupation, intended route, anything special about your team. Upon your return she repeats the grilling with questions on your summit. If you don’t meet her high standards, she will not put you in the database as a summiter!
She is ably assisted by several individuals including Billi Bierling and Richard Salisbury, who based in the US, does all the database work and administration needed to make the information usable for anyone who buys the database for a bargain of $70. There is a bit of a learning curve but once mastered, it offers a wealth of information. Please see this interview I did with Richard last year.
Another excellent source of Himalayan summit numbers is from Eberhard Jurgalski at 8000ers.com. He covers Pakistan in addition to Nepal.
As of February 2014, the final 2013 numbers on the Himalayan Database showed that 658 climbers made the summit. There were 539 from the south and 119 from the north side. 9 did not use supplemental oxygen and there were 8 confirmed deaths.
This brings the total summits to be around 6,871 by 4,042 different climbers, meaning that 2,829 climbers, mostly Sherpa, have multiple summits. The south side (Nepal) remains more popular with 4,416 summits while the north (Tibet) has 2,455 summits.
Overall 248 people (161 westerners and 87 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1921 to 2013, 140 on the Nepal side and 108 from Tibet. Since 1990, the deaths as a percentage of summits have dropped to 3.6% due to better gear, weather forecasting and more people climbing with commercial operations. Annapurna is the deadliest 8000 meter mountain with a summit to death ratio of 2:1 deaths for every summit (109:55).
As the chart above shows, the number of summits has been growing rapidly since the early 1990’s when commercialization began lead by Mountain Madness and Adventure Consultants. Note the number of Sherpa who are summiting is also growing faster than the clients, also called members. This is primarily due to commercial operators adding more support, in some cases two Sherpa for each western climber. The drop-off in summits in 2008 was when the Chinese closed the north side for the Beijing Olympics and effectively throttled the south.
There have been 3,220 summits by Sherpa or guides also called “hired” with 53 of those not using supplemental oxygen. 4 were women. This leaves the remaining summits by members at 3,561 and of that 139 were without extra O’s. As for women, Everest has seen 410 female ascents by 372 different women.
Looking at the average deaths since Everest was first attempted in 1921, it is 4.4 each year. Focusing on modern times since 2000 and then 2006 to 2013 it is 5.8 and 6.6 annual deaths respectively. Sadly we can expect this trend to continue as the mountain is attracting more climbers each year, many unprepared.
In the trivia department, the Himalayan database shows
- 2 true solo ascents
- 31 traverses
- 22 ski/snowboard descents
- 13 Parapente (paragliding) descents
- 1 unauthorized ascent
- 19 disputed ascent
- 15 unrecognized ascents
I have a section on my main website called Everest for KiDs. It is based on my 2002 attempt of Everest where I did not summit and used in schools around the world to teach students about goal setting, geography and Everest. Part of that section contains Everest Facts for KiDs which follows here:
• Everest is 29,035 feet or 8848 meters high
• The summit is the border of Nepal to the south and China or Tibet on the north
• It is over 60 million years old
• Everest was formed by the movement of the Indian tectonic plate pushing up and against the Asian plate
• Everest grows by about a quarter of an inch (0.25″) every year
• It consist of different types of shale, limestone and marble
• The rocky summit is covered with deep snow all year long
• The Jet Stream sits on top of Everest almost all year long
• The wind can blow over 200 mph
• The temperature can be -80F
• In mid May each year, the jet stream moves north causing the winds the calm and temperatures to warm enough for people to try to summit. This is called the ‘summit window’. There is a similar period each fall in November.
• It can be very hot with temperatures over 100F in the Western Cwm, an area climbers go through to reach the summit.
• It was first identified by a British survey team in lead by Sir George Everest in 1841
• Everest was first named Peak 15 and measured at 29,002 feet in 1856
• In 1865, it was named Mount Everest, after Sir George Everest
• In 1955, the height was adjusted to 29,028 feet and is still used by Nepal
• China uses 29,015 feet as the official height today
• Using GPS technology, the summit was measured at 29,035 feet in 1999
• Everest is called Chomolungma in Tibet. It means mother goddess of the universe
• Everest is called Sagarmatha in Nepal. It means goddess of the sky
• The first attempt was in 1921 by a British expedition from the north (Tibet) side
• The first summit team was a British expedition lead by Colonel John Hunt on the south (Nepal) side
• The first summit was on May 29, 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa from Nepal. They climbed from the south side.
• The first north side summit was on May 25, 1960 by Nawang Gombu (Tibetan) and Chinese climbers Chu Yin-Hau and Wang Fu-zhou
• The first climbers to summit Everest without bottled oxygen were Italian Reinhold Messner with Peter Habler in 1978
• The first woman to summit Everest was Junko Tabei of Japan in 1975
• The oldest person to summit was Japanese Miura Yiuchiro, age 80 on May 23, 2013
• The oldest woman to summit was Japanese Tamae Watanabe, age 73, in 2012 from the north
• The youngest person to summit was American Jordan Romero, age 13, on May 23, 2010 from the north side
• The youngest person to summit from the south side was Nepali Nima Chemji Sherpa on May 19, 2012
• Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi both hold the record for most summits with 21, the most recent one in 2013
• About 4,042 climbers have summited Everest once and another 2,829 have summited multiple times totaling 6,871 summits of Everest through February 2014
• The Nepal side is more popular with 4,416 summits compared to 2,455 summits from the Tibet side
• 410 women have summited through February 2014 by 372 different women
• 192 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen through February 2014, about 2.7%
• 248 people (161 westerners and 87 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to 2013.
• More people have died on the South side, 140 than on the Tibet side, 108.
• Almost all are still on the mountain.
• The top cause of death was from a fall, avalanche, exposure and altitude sickness
• There were an estimated 658 summits in the Spring of 2013, 539 on the south and 119 on the north
• Since 1953, there is an expedition summit success rate of 63%
• Since 1921, there is a non-sherpa summit success rate of 33% with men at 32% and women at 40%
• Since 2000, there is a non-sherpa summit success rate of 50% with men at 49% and women at 52%
• There are 18 different climbing routes on Everest
• It takes 40 days to climb Mt. Everest in order for the body to adjust to the high altitude
• There is 66% less oxygen in each breath on the summit of Everest than at sea level
• Climbers start using bottled oxygen at 26,000 feet but it only makes a 3,000 foot difference in how they feel so at 27,000 feet, they feel like they are at 24,000 feet
• You have to be 16 or older to climb from the Nepal side and 18 on the Chinese side.
• Sherpa is the name of a people. They mostly live in western Nepal. They migrated from Tibet over the last several hundred years
• Sherpa is also used as a last name
• Usually their first name is the day of the week they were born.
◦ Nyima – Sunday
◦ Dawa – Monday
◦ Mingma – Tuesday
◦ Lhakpa – Wednesday
◦ Phurba – Thursday
◦ Pasang – Friday
◦ Pemba – Saturday
• Sherpas help climbers by carrying tents and cooking food to the High Camps
• Sherpas climb Everest as a job to support their families
• Sherpas can get sick from the altitude like anyone
• Babu Chiri Sherpa spent the night on the summit in 1999
• Over 33,000 feet of fixed rope is used each year to set the South Col route
• Climbers burn over 10,000 calories each day, double that on the summit climb
• Climbers will lose 10 to 20 lbs during the expedition
Memories are everything