For those who follow Everest closely, the arrival of the official summit numbers is always a milestone. The Himalayan Database was updated with the latest summit statistics on December 6, 2016. This post is a nice complement to my recent updated post on “How Much Does it Cost to Climb Mt. Everest“.
The Database contains the summit records for almost all of the Himalayan peaks located in Nepal from 1905 to present day and is maintained by a small team of devotees lead by the legendary Ms. Elizabeth Hawley out of Kathmandu and published by the American Alpine Club. 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 summiteer!
Now at 93, she remains at home in Kathmandu but 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 uses 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.
Another excellent source of Himalayan summit numbers is from Eberhard Jurgalski at 8000ers.com. He covers Pakistan in addition to Nepal but some of the reports are dated.
How many people have summited and died on Everest?
“How many people have summited Mt. Everest” is one of the most popular questions after “How Much Does it Cost to Climb Mt. Everest?“. The short answer is that 4,469 different people have summited Everest 7,646 times.
The next most popular question is “How many people have died on Everest?” 282 people have died on Mt. Everest. Deaths range from zero to 18 in 2015 due to the earthquake.
Everest Summit and Death Details
Using the last update from the Himalayan Database in December 2016, I compiled this report.
First for Everest 2016 results, 641 climbers made the summit. This was the second highest summit total after 658 in 2013. There were 442 from the south and 199 from the north side. 5 did not use supplemental oxygen and there were 5 confirmed deaths.
With 2016 in the books, there have been 7,646 total summits by 4,469 different climbers. 1,105 climbers, mostly Sherpa, have multiple summits. The south side (Nepal) remains more popular with 4,863 summits while the north (Tibet) has 2,783 summits.
Overall 282 people (168 westerners and 114 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1921 to 2016, 176 on the Nepal side and 106 from Tibet.
An average of 4.8 people have died each year on Everest since it was first attempted in 1921. Focusing on modern times from 2000 to 2016 it is 6.9 annual deaths. Sadly we can expect this trend of increasing deaths to continue as the mountain is attracting more climbers each year, many unprepared. That said, as a percentage, the deaths are going down when compared to summits.
Annapurna remains the most deadly 8000 meter mountain with one death for every three summits (71:255) or 28% thru 2016. K2 is second at 355 summits with 82 deaths or 23%
Everest – An Insatiable Allure
As the chart above shows, the number of summits has been growing rapidly since 1990 as commercialization began. Adventure Consultants’ Rob Hall and Gary Ball guided four paying clients to the summit that year.Interest in the mountain rose steadily even after the 1996 disaster where 15 people died. The drop-off in summits in 2008 was when the Chinese closed the north side for the Beijing Olympics and effectively throttled the south and in 2014 when a Sherpa strike closed the Nepal side and in 2015 with the earthquake that stopped all summits on both sides.
But it is good to understand that after each bad year, the next year recorded record summits. It seems that bad news only increases the allure of climbing Everest.
Almost half of the summits are by Sherpas or guides, 3,631 or 48%. As for women, Everest has seen 489 female ascents by 372 different women.
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
- 21 disputed ascent
- 18 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 is used today in schools around the world to teach students about goal setting, geography and Everest. Part of that section contains Everest Facts for KiDs:
- Everest is 29,035 feet or 8,848 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 highest summit wind speeds, estimated at 175mph (78 meters per second) was on February 6, 2004
- 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.
- Like all mountains around the world, the local, indigenous people were the first to see it
- 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
- It was first identified for the western world by a British survey team 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 or 8,850 meters in 1999
Summits – thru December 2016
Early Attempts and Summits
- The first attempt was in 1921 by a British expedition from the north (Tibet) 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 on a British expedition lead by Colonel John Hunt.
- 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 youngest person to summit was American Jordan Romero, age 13 years 10 months, on May 23, 2010 from the north side.
- The oldest person to summit was Japanese Miura Yiuchiro, age 80 on May 23, 2013
- The first climbers to summit Everest without bottled oxygen were Italian Reinhold Messner with Peter Habler in 1978
- The youngest male to summit was American Jordan Romero, age 13 years 10 months, on May 23, 2010 from the north side.
- The oldest male to summit was Japanese Miura Yiuchiro, age 80 on May 23, 2013
- Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi both hold the record for most summits (male or female) with 21, the most recent one in 2013
- American Dave Hahn has the most non-Sherpa summits with 15, the most recent in 2013
- The first woman to summit Everest was Junko Tabei of Japan in 1975
- The oldest woman to summit was Japanese Tamae Watanabe, age 73, in 2012 from the north
- The youngest woman to summit was Indian Malavath Purna, 13 years 11 months on May 25, 2014 from the south side
- 489 women have summited through June 2016
- Nepali, Lakpa Sherpani holds the women’s summit record with seven (1 South, 6 north)
- American Melissa Arnot has the most non-Sherpani summits with 6, the most recent in 2016 without supplemental oxygen from Tibet
- There have been 7,646 summits of Everest through June 2016 on all routes by 4,469 different people.
- 1,015 people, mostly Sherpa, have summited multiple times totaling 3,861 times (included in the 7,646 total summits).
- The Nepal side is more popular with 4,863 summits compared to 2,783 summits from the Tibet side
- 197 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen through June 2016, about 2.5%
- 14 climbers have traversed from one side to the other.
- 504 climbers have summited from both Nepal and Tibet
- 282 people (168 westerners and 114 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to June 2016 or 3.7%
- Of the deaths, 109 died attempting to summit without using supplemental oxygen.
- Of the 282 deaths, 70 died on the descent from the summit or 25%
- The Nepalese side has seen 4,863 summits with 176 deaths through June 2016 or 3.6%
- The Tibet side has seen 2,783 summits with 106 deaths through June 2016 or 3.8%
- Most bodies all are still on the mountain but China has removed many bodies from sight.
- The top cause of death was from a fall, avalanche, exposure and altitude sickness
- About 60% of all expeditions put at least one member on the summit.
- From 1923 to 1999: 170 people died on Everest with 1,169 summits or 14.5%. But the deaths drastically declined from 2000 to 2015 with 5,832 summits and 112 deaths or 1.9%.
- However, two years skewed the recent deaths rates with 17 in 2014 and 14 in 2015.
- The reduction in deaths is primarily due to better gear, weather forecasting and more people climbing with commercial operations.
- There are 18 different climbing routes on Everest
- It takes 39 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
- Thin nylon ropes are used to keep climbers from falling.
- Climbers wear spikes on their boots called crampons
- They also use ice axes to help stop a fall
- Thick, puffy suits filled with goose feathers keep climbers warm
- Most climbers eat a lot of eggs, rice and noodles for food
- Almost all climbers use bottled oxygen because it is so high. It helps keep the climbers warm.
- 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 18 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
- Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi both hold the record for most summits with 21, the most recent one in 2013
- Over 33,000 feet of fixed rope is used each year to set the South Col route
- You have to be at least 18 to climb Everest from either side
- 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