Mt. Everest
Himalayas - Nepal/Tibet
29,035 feet 8850m
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I summited Everest on May 21, 2011 and have climbed it three other times- 2002, 2003 and 2008 each time reaching just below the Balcony at about 27,500' (8400 meters) before health, weather or my own judgment caused me to turn back. When not climbing, I cover the Everest season from my home in Colorado as I did for the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Everest seasons. This page is an overview of Everest climbs and an index for the other pages with more information on routes, pictures, essays, trip reports and more.

"one of the world's most respected chronicler of Everest" - Outside Magazine March 2013

Everest from Camp 2 at sunsetMt. Everest is the most famous mountain in the world. Drawing climbers for almost a century, it is know as Qomolangma Peak in Tibet and Mount Sagarmatha in Nepal.

The north side was first attempted by a British team in 1922. They reached 27,300' before turning back. The 1924 British expedition with George Mallory and Andrew Irvine was notable for the mystery of whether they summited or not. Mallory's body was found in 1999 but there was no proof that he died going up or coming down. It was a Chinese team who made the first summit from Tibet on May 25, 1960 by Nawang Gombu (Tibetan) and Chinese Chu Yin-Hau and Wang Fu-zhou who is said to have climbed the Second Step in his sock feet.

However, the first summit of Mt. Everest was by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Edmund Hillary with a British expedition in 1953. They took the South Col route which is used by the majority of modern expeditions. At that time the route had only been attempted twice by Swiss teams in the spring and autumn of 1952. They reached 8500m well above the South Col. Of note, Norgay was with the Swiss thus giving him the experience he used on the British expedition. The Swiss returned in 1956 to make the second summit of Everest.

Today, hundreds of climbers from around world try to stand on top of the world.

The Grand Dame of all Everest statistics, Ms. Elizabeth Hawley reports on the Himalayan database the total number of people who have summited Mt. Everest as of February 2014 to be around 6,871 by 4,042 different climbers, meaning that 2,829 climbers, mostly Sherpas, 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 1924 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 a much more deadly mountain than Everest with a summit to death ratio of 2:1 deaths for every summit (109:55).

The menu at the top of each Everest page links to:


Everest T-Shirts

Have a friend or loved one climbing Everest? Tell the world!! The back of each shirt has a map of the route to the summit.
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Everest 2002 Climb

Everest 2002


In 2002 I attempted Everest using the Southeast ridge route. This was my most difficult climb thus far due to the length of the trip, logistics and health. I reached 27,200' (8250m), a personal record, before turning back just below the balcony due to a lung infection. It was a fabulous trip that I never anticipated making when I starting climbing seven years earlier.

There were 155 summits in 2002 with 2 deaths.

Continue reading about the Everest 2002 climb.

Everest 2003 Climb

Everest 2003


I returned to Everest in 2003, to attempt the South side again. While it was incredible to be back only ten months after my 2002 climb, it was a big disappointment with altitude sickness and weather problems. I knew about halfway through I would not summit so I reset my goal to go as high as I could - safely - and reached 27,200' (8250m), the exact same spot as 2002.

There were 267 summits in 2003 with 4 deaths.

Continue reading about the Everest 2003 climb.

Everest 2004 Coverage

Everest 2004


Over 337 climbers reached the summit on all routes, 99 on May 16 and 17 alone!. 169 summiteers were clients, 169 guides and Sherpas. There were 7 deaths. By far, Sherpas have summited Everest more than any other category of climber. The most sought out Sherpas have summited 5 or more times and know the routes, conditions and how to deal with Westerners.

Continue reading about Everest in 2004

Everest 2005 Coverage

Everest 2005


Quite a season! The summits on May 21 were the latest first summit day in 45 years of climbing Mt. Everest. Norgay and Hillary did it on May 29, the earliest was April 4 in 1984. But it was still a good year for summits with 307 climbers standing on the top of the world. Sadly there were 6 deaths.

The season started quickly with teams arriving early and getting their acclimation trips in by early May. They were assuming a "normal" season with first summits around May 15. But the Jet just sat there. It didn't move and when it did, it came back so quickly that the 3-day window never materialized. So the climbers sat in base camps. Some went down valley to enjoy the rich air and sleep on real beds, some went on sight seeing trips to nearby Monasteries and other just sat there. But they entertained themselves with chess games, concerts, hockey games and swap meets. These climbers are creative if nothing else!

Continue reading about Everest in 2005

Everest 2006 Coverage

Everest 2006


The season started with controversy as the political unrest in Katmandu delayed many expeditions and created uncertainty that gear and climbers would arrive on time. However it all got sorted as seasoned leaders guided their teams through the bureaucracy, small arms fire and chaos that comes with a country in turmoil.

But by early April base camp on both sides were established and teams got settled in. However there was a huge surprise for this season! The weather was spectacular and teams on the north took advantage of it by aggressively fixing the ropes to the summit (and beyond!).

It was a record year for summits with 479 reaching the top from both sides but there was also 11 deaths, the most since 1996.

Continue reading about Everest in 2006

Everest 2007 Coverage

Everest 2007


The season started early - late March - with the arrival of the huge IMG team closely followed by the Xtreme Everest Medical expedition into Nepal. Over on the north it seemed that Hollywood had moved to Tibet for April and May.

Dispatch after dispatch spoke of their "film crew" and some climbers were worried about their bad hair days. But one climber stood out - David Tait. The British climber was on a mission to raise money for his charity by attempting the never before accomplished double traverse. He began posting his thoughts, fears and observation in a rarely seen candid manner.

It was another record year for summits with 632 reaching the top from both sides but there was also 7 deaths.

Continue reading about Everest in 2007


Everest 2008 Climb

Everest 2008


I returned to Everest in 2008, to attempt the South side again as part of The Road Back to Mt. Everest . I had trained hard with four previous high altitude climbs in the prior 8 months. I felt great the majority of the climb but felt it was too dangerous for me to continue and turned back at the Balcony or 27,500' (8300m) which was 1535 ' short of the highest point on earth. This was my highest altitude ever reached.

I have written an extensive document on the experiences during this climb as impacted by the Chinese Olympic torch summit and closure of the north and heavy restrictions on the south side. It is a PDF document named Everest 2008: Mountain of Politics

426 people summited in 2008 with only 1 death.

Continue reading about the Everest 2008 climb

Everest 2009 Coverage

Everest 2009


Overall this was one of the safest seasons in the past few years in spite of some difficult weather that created a long delay in early May. There were over 400 summits and sadly 5 deaths on Everest and one on Lhotse.

Similar to 2008, the Chinese Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) changed the rules and gave vague guidance to teams during the critical planning period resulting in almost all of the major north side operators making the switch to Nepal. That fueled speculation of overcrowding, bottlenecks and record summits and record deaths. And in the end it was just speculation.

462 summits and 5 deaths.

Continue reading about Everest in 2009


Everest 2010 Coverage

Everest 2010


By recent standards, Everest 2010 was a safe and successful year. There were about 537 summits (347 from the south) with 3 reported deaths, all on the north, and several injuries and rescues. The total Everest summits broke the 5,000 level since 1953.

This year's story line for climbers and their families was the weather, however it was all Jordan Romero and Apa Sherpa for the rest of the world.

For the first time in several years, the north operated in an almost normal manner. Teams dealt with a few border restrictions early but arrived at base camp and immediately began their acclimatization rotations.

On the South, the ropes were in early and the weather seemed drastically different from the North, at least in April.

Continue reading about Everest in 2010

Everest 2011 Summit

Everest 2011


I summited Everest on May 21, 2011 from the Nepal side in 2011 with International Mountain Guides. This was part of The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer's: Memories are Everything® campaign.

It was very humbling standing on the summit after all my attempts but more gratifying was the reaction to my Alzheimer's awareness and fund raising efforts. Thank you everyone who participated.

I approached this climb quite differently from previous attempts including preparation, to training to guide service and more.

The Himalayan database states there were 535 combined summits from both sides 58% summit to climbers at base camp. 4 deaths.

Read the live updates from Everest 2011

Everest 2012 Coverage

2012 Climbers on the Lhotse Face - courtesy of Cian O'Brolchain

Perhaps the most dramatic year since 1996. A lack of snow combined with high winds created dangerous rock fall on the Lhotse Face causing many injures primarily to Sherpas before the route was moved to a safer passage to Camp 3.

However, these dangers plus the deaths of three Sherpas early in April from multiple causes, caused the Sherpas from Himex to lose confidence. Russell Brice, arguably the most famous of the Everest commercial operators, cancelled his entire Himalaya spring season (Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse) taking over 100 people off the mountain. It was an unprecedented decision.

The other teams continued fighting difficult weather on both sides of Everest and with only four days of suitable weather for summit pushes endured the famous crowds at the normal bottle necks of the 2nd Step, and the Hilary Step. Totally unrelated to the crowds, weather or rock fall, 6 more climbers died primarily from poor decision making or altitude related illnesses generating sensational headlines around the world and calls for regulation on Everest.

The Himalayan database states there were 551 combined summits from both sides and 10 deaths.

Continue reading about Everest in 2012

Everest 2013 Coverage

Everest 2013 Coverage


Everest 2013 was a good year for most climbers but a difficult one for the professionals. Overall it could be termed a normal year with little drama with one large exception.

There were an estimated 658 summits in the Spring of 2013, 539 on the south and 119 on the north. 8 confirmed deaths.

For many climbers, they accomplished a life long dream, returned safely home to a family who have started to breath again. With an unparalleled lifetime experience, for some their lives were changed forever.

Continue reading about Everest 2013

 

Everest 2014 Coverage

Another year of climbing Everest is approaching. I have begun my annual coverage on the Blog.

So what does 2014 look like? I am predicting a record year for climbers and summits. The ‘fight’ in 2013 captured the world’s imagination, and scorn, about Everest prompting more interest than ever. As strange as it seems, the more bad publicity Everest receives, the more people are attracted to it. Each year when there were record deaths, the following year had record summits. Go figure.

Continue reading about Everest 2014

South Col Route Map

South Col Route

Mt. Everest was first summited by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary with a British expedition in 1953. They took the South Col route which is described on this page. At that time the route had only been attempted twice by Swiss teams in the spring and autumn of 1952.They reached 8500m well above the South Col. Of note, Norgay was with the Swiss thus giving him the experience he used on the British expedition. The Swiss return in 1956 to make the second summit of Everest. Nepal was closed to foreigners until 1950.

Today, hundreds of climbers from around the world use this route to try to stand on top of the world. It is considered slightly more dangerous than the North Ridge Route due primarily to the instability of the Khumbu Icefall. However some considered it slightly easier than the north due to the absence of the ladders and rock climbing on the steep steps of the North Ridge route.

Read more details on the South Col Route

Northeast Ridge Route Map

Northeast Ridge Route

The north side of Everest is steeped in history with multiple attempts throughout the 1920's and 1930's. The first attempt was by a British team in 1922. They reached 27,300' before turning back and was the first team to use supplemental oxygen. It was also on this expedition that the first deaths were reported when an avalanche killed seven Sherpas.

The 1924 British expedition with George Mallory and Andrew Irvine is most notable for the mystery of whether they summited or not. Mallory's body was found in 1999 but there no proof that he died going up or coming down.

It was a Chinese team who made the first summit from Tibet on May 25, 1960 by Nawang Gombu (Tibetan) and Chinese Chu Yin-Hau and Wang Fu-zhou who is said to have climbed the Second Step in his sock feet however without a summit photo, some doubt the summit claim. In 1975, a second summit was climbed by the Chinese and the ladder on the Second Step was installed.

Tibet was closed to foreigners from 1950 to 1980 preventing any further attempts until a Japanese team summited in 1980 via the Hornbein Couloir on the North Face. The north side started to attract more climbers in the mid 1990s and today is almost as popular as the South side when the Chinese allow permits. In 2008 and 2009, obtaining a permit was difficult thus preventing many expeditions from attempting any route from Tibet.

Read more details on the Northeast Ridge Route

Everest Stats*

  • 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.
  • 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
  • You have to be 16 or older to climb from the Nepal side and 18 on the Chinese side.
  • 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 Everest 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 Ngima Chhamji Sherpa (Sanam), age 16, on May 19, 2012
  • Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi both hold the record for most summits with 21, the most recent one in 2013 by Phurba Tashi.
  • 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 south side (Nepal) remains more popular with 4416 summits while the north (Tibet) has 2455 summits.
  • 410 women have summited through February 2014
  • 192 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen through February 2014
  • Overall 248 people (161 westerners and 87 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to 2013, 140 on the Nepal side and 108 from Tibet.
  • Almost all are still on the mountain.
  • The top causes of death are 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.

*courtesy of the Himalayan Database, 8000ers.com and my own research

Everest Resources

Based on my own experiences, I worked on these skills before attempting Everest:

  1. Gained climbing experience to be as self sufficient as possible. All the climbing techniques and skills should be in your muscle memory and not a conscious thought
  2. Preparing my body to be in “Everest Shape” which is beyond "the best shape of your life"
  3. Building mental toughness to push yourself while being willing to turn back for safety

CLIMBING SKILLS - knots and roped team travel - crampon skills - ice axe skills including self arrest in all types of positions - crevasse rescue techniques

CAMPING SKILLS - extreme cold weather clothing techniques - packing what you need; not what you want

PHYSICAL TRAINING - stamina, cardio, strength, breathing techniques - understanding how your body performs at altitude preferably at 8000m before going to Everest

MENTAL TRAINING - getting along in close quarters with strangers for 2 months, teamwork

These pages are based on my own experiences:

1. Everest Frequently asked questions and 8000 meter mountains Frequently Asked Questions

2. Skills and Experience

3. Training and Fitness

4. Everest Gear

5. Guides

6. South Side Route Overview

7. North Side Route Overview

8. A description of my first Everest South Climb in 2002

9. A full report of my Everest South Summit in 2011