Everest on May 21, 2011 and have climbed it three other times- 2002, 2003 and 2008 with
my best reaching 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 and 2013 Everest
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
Mt. 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
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 reported a total of 537 summits in 2011, 371 south 166 north by 525 different
climbers. This brings the total number of people who have summited Mt. Everest to around 5652 by 3425 different climbers, meaning that 2,220 climbers,
mostly Sherpas, have multiple summits. 223 people have died on Everest. Since 1990, the deaths have dropped to 4.1% 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:
- Pictures from
the climbs are organized in six albums by the trek in, base camp, Khumbu Icefall,
Lhotse Face, South Col and Above and a Best of Everest Album.
- Videos from my Everest climbs.
- Alan's Khumbu Trek, 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2011 summit Climbs with
an overview and dispatches sent during the climbs
- Coverage and commentary of the Everest 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 , 2009 and 2010 and
2012 climbing seasons
- 6 essays on topics from money to family to death
- Extras including Everest for Kids, Musical
Slide Show and Pictures of the South Col Route plus
the Northeast Ridge Route map and Communications
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)about
climbing Mt. Everest, Khumbu
Trek and 8000m climbs
Everest 2013 T-Shirts
Have a friend or loved one climbing Everest in 2013? Tell the
world!! The back of each shirt has a map of the route to the summit.
of all sales go to Alzheimer's causes.
Everest 2002 Climb
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.
Continue reading about the Everest 2002 climb.
Everest 2003 Climb
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.
Continue reading about the Everest 2003 climb.
Everest 2004 Coverage
Over 150 climbers reached the summit on all routes, 99 on May 16 and 17 alone!. Using
a summit (not attempts) ratio of clients: guides: sherpas of 5:2:8 this would imply
that 50 summiteers were clients, 20 guides and 80 Sherpas. 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.
I would estimate that 80% of Sherpas and Guides have summited before so that would
imply that there were 70 new summits this season.
Continue reading about Everest in 2004
Everest 2005 Coverage
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 over 230 climbers
standing on the top of the world. To put this in context, around 150 made the summit
in 2004 with the first summits on May 15.
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
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!).
Continue reading about Everest in 2006
Everest 2007 Coverage
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.
Continue reading about Everest in 2007
Everest 2008 Climb
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
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
Continue reading about the Everest 2008 climb
Everest 2009 Coverage
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.
Continue reading about Everest in 2009
Everest 2010 Coverage
By recent standards, Everest 2010 was a safe and successful year. There were about
513 summits (347 from the south) with 4 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
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 Grand Dame of all Everest statistics, Ms. Elizabeth Hawley reported a total
of 537 summits in 2011, 371 south 166 north by 525 different climbers. This brings
the total number of people who have summited Mt. Everest to around 5652 by 3425
different climbers, meaning that 2,220 climbers, mostly Sherpas, have multiple
summits. 223 people have died on Everest.
Read the live updates from Everest
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
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 final Everest summit list will not be available until later in 2012.
My very rough, unconfirmed estimates: Total climbers at both base camps: 446
westerners plus 500 Sherpas totaling 946. 548 combined summits from both sides
57.93% summit to attempt rate. 10 deaths
about Everest in 2012
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.
The final summit numbers will take some time to determine but there were well
over 600 summits on both sides and sadly nine 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
South Col Route Map
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
Northeast Ridge Route Map
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
Based on my own experiences, I worked on these skills before attempting Everest:
- 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
- Preparing my body to be in “Everest
Shape” which is beyond "the
best shape of your life"
- 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
3. Training and
4. Everest Gear
6. South Side
7. North Side
8. A description
of my first Everest South Climb in 2002
9. A full
report of my Everest South Summit in 2011