Who in this world wouldn’t have imagined climbing up the world’s highest peak—the mighty Mount Everest?
All of us must have thought about it at least once in our lives. When we think about climbing Everest, we also wonder what and how long does it take to climb Mount Everest, don’t we?
Only a few of the bravest souls, aka daredevils, risk their lives to climb the highest point on Earth, Mt. Everest.
Climbing up Mount Everest is a month-long and daunting achievement that can take years to prepare but still end up costing lives.
Every year Mount Everest attracts hundreds of climbers from all over the world. But climbing this rock is not a piece of cake. It requires a very high skill set, a correct psychological mindset, and experiences to go through this journey.
Other than that, it also takes somewhere around $800- $29450 worth of budget to be able to afford climbing the summit.
Having prior experience of mountaineering at high altitude, preferably more than 6000 meters, is a must. Every climber must submit a certificate of good health and physical fitness while applying for the expedition.
A Nepali guide must train them before the journey.
Every climber has to be trained. They have to have discipline as it is a highly risky task.
Climbers must prepare themselves both physically and mentally. Also, taking the right gear and equipment is equally essential and mandatory.
It is obligatory to care for the amount of waste you create on your journey. As there is only one Everest, and we cannot afford to damage the environment around there.
The trash compactors were made mandatory under a 2014 government provision that requires every climber to come down the peak with at least 8 kgs of trash.
How high is Mount Everest?
The geologists argue if including the snowcap is valid. Some of them suggest that the surveyors should drill down to the peak’s rock base.
The latter seems an impossible idea because of several reasons such as
1. Nepal is a landlocked country with shores nowhere near it.
2. Access to the summit is possible only a few weeks every year.
Geologists also believe that Nepal’s 2015 earthquake has shrunk Everest by somewhere between 3 cms to 1 inch.
Teams from several countries such as China, India, the USA, Denmark, and Italy have shared their measurements, which conflict with one another.
For example, the USA’s measurement mentions the height to be 29,035 ft, but the Italian team refers to it as 29,022 ft.
The official and widely accepted measurement of 29,029 ft are from the mid-1950s after Nepal opened its borders to foreigners.
How long does it take to climb Mount Everest: Best Season for the expedition
Before taking on the daunting challenge of climbing this highly dangerous mountain, you must consider many factors, primarily, correct weather.
The weather up on Everest is extremely notorious and unpredictable.
However, there are some particular months of the year when the weather is slightly less unpredictable. Spring and autumn are considered the best seasons to climb Everest, which means from April to May and September to November.
Spring season for climbing
spring, the weather is warm, and the views are unobstructed. The chances of rain or clouds are less in comparison to other seasons.
The wind might be a problem during this time, but considering other factors, such as the avalanches, excessive snowfalls, fog, and mist, spring is the best time to climb Everest.
The weather during these months best suits the climbers.
Typically most attempts are made during May. It’s a perfect time as the summer monsoon season approaches nearer. There is a science behind it.
What happens is that the jet stream shifts northward when the monsoon season comes nearer. As a result, the average wind speed gets reduced at the higher altitudes of the mountain.
Autumn season for climbing
Autumn starts after the monsoon clouds pass away. It is said to be the second-best time to summit Everest after the spring season.
This time of the year becomes quite risky because the jet stream is pushed northward but temporarily.
It can change direction at any time.
The additional monsoon snow deposition and risk of the dynamic jet streaming can disrupt the weather pattern making it more challenging to climb during these months.
How long does it take to climb Mount Everest: Time and Risk Factors in Climbing the Mount Everest
It takes about two months, approximately 65-70 days, to reach the apex of Mount Everest— the viewpoint of heaven.
The Mount Everest expedition is an extreme venture which can sometimes lead to a fatal result.
Several factors, such as the climber’s physical and mental fitness, weather condition, proper food, rest, acclimatization level, etc., affect the ascent.
The Mount Everest expedition is more complicated than our imagination.
You will need to adapt to every possible situation, no matter how ominous the signs are.
Climbers ascending to the peak will experience altitude sickness, freezing temperature, strong wind, and utmost hazards like avalanches and the Khumbu Glacier. Climbers have become victim to falls, serac collapse, exposure, frostbite, and avalanches, to name a few.
Apart from these, inexperience is also a primary reason for the deaths on Everest.
To ensure the expeditions are safe and successful, there usually is a leader in the group. Respecting the leader’s decisions and abiding by the rules is essential for survival in such an extreme adventure.
There are various effects of altitude on human bodies.
Almost every climber is likely to face a loss of appetite, digestion difficulties, dizziness, suffocation, insomnia, and so on.
Carrying the backpacks with food stock, gears, equipment, etc., adds up yet another difficulty.
It’s no new thing for climbers to lose up to 20 pounds of their body weight during a successful Everest expedition.
How long does it take to climb Mount Everest: Foods and nutrition for the expedition.
When you are at the highest altitude from the sea level, your body shows changes in metabolism.
Your body prioritizes blood to vital organs such as your brain and cardiovascular system. The digestive system becomes the second priority. Due to this, it is highly recommended to consume food with more carbohydrates and sugar.
Such food breaks down quickly and is easy to digest rather than proteins.
Mountaineers indulge in extreme climbing during the expedition, which allows the body to burn up many calories.
For gaining energy, it is recommended to consume 8,000 – 10,000 calories per day, which is five times what you usually burn sitting at home.
There is a variety of food to choose from before reaching the base camp. The breakfast may include toast, cereals, eggs, bread, porridge, and fruits.
Lunch is an essential meal in Nepalese society. Climbers get a variety of items to choose from dumplings, noodles, and the most popular amongst the locals are Dal (Lentil Soup), Bhat (Boiled Rice), Tarkari (Vegetables), optional Meat and Achar (Pickle). This is a high nutrition diet, which is very beneficial for climbers.
While heading towards the camp, expeditors usually carry nuts, chocolates, energy bars, and even dry meats. Anything that is high in carbohydrates and replenishes the lost energy is essential.
People chip the glacier’s ice for the water and melt it for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing.
Upon reaching the camp, expeditors again eat “dal (lentil), that (rice), and tarkari (meat/vegetables). It is a healthy local cuisine; it gives Sherpas the much-needed energy to carry the luggage and equipment further up the mountains.
After reaching Camp IV, the final push to the peak is hard, and the body needs more energy and food. Due to the altitude, many Expeditors feel nausea, and eating is very hard at this point.
These modern gels have an isotonic, electrolyte formula containing rapidly absorbed carbohydrates and are very easy to intake. The packet top can be torn open with teeth, and the gooey contents can be easily squeezed into the mouth.
It is the most effective and quick way to deliver the much-needed boost of energy in harsh environments.
Some of the food that the famous Everest climbers carry for this audacious venture are:
- Dried Reindeer Heart
- Mackerel in Tomato Sauce
- Olive Oil
For the hydration to the summit push, climbers usually carry 1l of warm water inside their down jacket as this prevents the water from freezing up. Some climbers add electrolyte and magnesium tablets, which replenish vital electrolytes and sodium lost through sweating.
How long does it take to climb Mount Everest: Routes to the summit of Mount Everest
As the summit of Mount Everest runs over the China-Nepal border, there are two possible approaches for the climbers to reach the peak: From the North, Tibet, and From the South-East, Nepal.
The south-east ridge is considered an easy route and was used by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953.
The Tibetian route was considered complicated because of politics rather than geographic structure.
Chinese border was closed to the western world up until the 1950s.
The Southeast Ridge Route
The Southeast ridge is often referred to as the Nepali side. As per the record, an average of 400 climbers per season takes this route to Mount Everest.
Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa summited Mount Everest successfully for the first time at 11:30 local time on May 29, 1953 A.D. via this very route.
The climb via the south-east ridge starts from a trek to Base Camp at 5,380 m (17,700 ft) on Everest’s southern side.
Climbers usually fly to Lukla airport from Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, and pass through Namche Bazar, which is the last city before Everest.
Animals like yaks, “Dzopkyos” (yak-cow hybrids) are used to carry climbing equipment and supplies.
Human porters, normally Sherpas (a tribe indigenous to the Himalayan Range), help climbers to reach the base camp on the Khumbu Glacier.
Climbers spend a couple of days and even weeks getting used to the high altitude and harsh environment. You will be climbing up and getting down to the camp so that your body gets used to the environment.
You will need oxygen supplements because, at higher altitudes, situations get a lot worse than you had ever imagined.
Camps are set up at various levels so that the trekkers can take a rest and improve their acclimatization levels. During the phase, the Sherpas will be setting up ropes and ladders in the lethal Khumbu Icefall. Within a week or so, the climber will be heading over to the Khumbu Glacier.
Climbers usually commence their ascent before dawn. It’s the time when the freezing temperature glues ice blocks firmly to their respective positions.
The Khumbu Glacier, which is full of crevasses, seracs, and rapid ice block shiftings, is one of the deadliest regions in Mount Everest.
The second stop for the climber is above the glacier, Camp I, at 6,065 meters (19,900 ft). After reaching it, climbers stay there for one night.
After Camp I, climbers make their way up and pass the Western Cwm, a glacial valley basin, to Camp II. It is also known as Advanced Base Camp (ABC), established at the height of 6,500 m (21,300 ft). People call Western Cwm the “Valley of Silence.” It is because the landscape of this area generally cuts off wind blowing from the climbing route.
From Advance Base Camp, climbers head to the Lhotse face on fixed ropes, up to Camp III, located on a small ledge at 7,470 m (24,500 ft).
Climbers face two additional challenges on Camp III’s surge to Camp IV: the Yellow Band and the Geneva Spur.
The Yellow Band is a region of marble, semi schist, and phyllite tied-up together. It requires about 100 meters of rope to traverse this petrifying section.
The Geneva Spur is as terrifying as the Yellow Band.
It’s a rib of black rock resembling the shape of an anvil. The name comes from the 1952 Swiss expedition. This region is entirely snow-covered, so it requires a fixed rope to pass through.
The 500m climb passes the Geneva Spur (an anvil-shaped black rock) to Camp IV on the South Col at 7,920 m (26,000 ft). Altitude above 8000 meters is more dangerous than one can think of. Nothing in there will be on your side.
It is also called the death zone because only one-third of oxygen can be inhaled in every breath compared to sea-level.
After passing Camp IV, climbers begin their way to the summit, usually around midnight, which is still another 1000m climb to the peak. If the weather is clear and the wind is low, the climbers will push towards the summit.
On their advancement up the Camp IV, they reach “The Balcony,” which lies at an altitude of 8,400 meters (27,600 ft).
Climbers will be forced to move their way down to the lower camps if the weather does not favor them.
No one in that altitude can last more than 2 or 3 days: Not even with oxygen supplements.
The goal is to reach the next base camp within 10-12 hrs.
Climbers reach “The Balcony” at 8,400 m (27,600 ft) and rest before they conquer Mt. Everest. Climbers get to relax and enjoy Mount Everest’s scenic beauty and other peaks around in their proximity. Nothing is more soothing than watching mountains in the early light of dawn.
A series of imposing rock steps appear on the ascent of this ridge. One wrong step can lead you down to the waist-deep snow, which is also one of the severe avalanche hazards in the Everest expedition.
Pushing the ridge carefully further, climbers reach the South summit, the second-highest peak on Earth. It lies at an altitude of 8,749 meters (28,704 ft) and is even higher than the World’s Second-Highest Mountain—Mt.K2.
Upon ascending further up the South, Summit comes a cutting-edge South-East ridge referred to as “Cornice Traverse.” One misstep to the left can lead you to 2,400 m (7,900 ft) down the southwest face, while to the right can lead you 3,050 m (10,010 ft) down to Kangshung Face.
If you manage to traverse the ridge successfully, you will reach the Hillary Step, an imposing 12 m (39 ft) rock wall at the Cornice Traverse end.
In recent years, there is a high traffic of climbers on Mount Everest. Due to this reason, climbers are experiencing a bottleneck situation.
People face extended delays, waiting for their turn on the rope, on their way up and down, which can be troublesome in case of bad weather.
After the Hillary Step, climbers surge through a rock section up to the zenith. Climbers typically spend 15 to 25 minutes at the summit so that they can have enough time to descend to Camp IV before darkness enters.
Spending more than half an hour isn’t recommended because the sudden weather change at that altitude is inexorable.
The North Ridge Route
The North Ridge Route starts from the north side of Everest that is Tibet. The north ridge route is way more challenging than the South Col route.
The expedition begins from the Northside of Mount Everest. In this path, climbers first trek up to the Rongbuk glacier at the height of 5,180 m (16,990 ft) under the gravel plain below the glacier.
This route is full of stubborn obstacles like huge rocks, crevasses, seracs, etc.
Trekkers then set up a camp somewhere below the glacier. Climbers then move forward on fixed ropes up to Camp II.
This camp is situated at the base of Changtse and lies at around 6100 meters (20,000 ft) above sea level.
The further ascent up to Mount Everest leads the climbers to the North Col ABC or Camp III. This camp is situated right below the North Col at 6500 meters (21,300 ft).
Their next stop would be camp IV, which lies on the North Col at 7,010 meters (23,000 ft). Fixed ropes entirely lead this path. After that, the climbers surged via the rocky North ridge to install Camp V at around 7,775 meters (25,500 ft).
The push to the base of Yellow Band along the North Face is the next phase of the expedition. It is a diagonal climb to the foot of the Yellow Band to reach Camp VI that lies at an altitude of 8,230 meters (27,000 ft).
The climbers then get to hit the summit from Camp VI.
Leaving Camp VI is the most challenging thing for climbers because what awaits next is no less atrocious than death.
The climbers have to use a climbing kit between the First and the Second Step, at ascent above 8600 meters (28,000 ft). This climbing kit is referred to as the “Chinese Ladder.”
It’s a metal ladder placed inconsequential by a group of Chinese climbers during their expedition in 1975.
Yet, more challenges will be waiting for the climbers on their way up further. They will be clambering over the Third Step ascending from 8,690 to 8,800 meters (28,510 to 28,870 ft).
After a climber successfully passes all these obstacles, he/she will still have to climb a snow slope of 50 degrees to summit Mount Everest.
It takes a lot to kiss the acme of Mount Everest. It’s common for climbers to experience a lot of awful events during a mountain expedition.
However, the relief one gets after reaching the peak of Mount Everest is enough to erase the psychological trauma that climbers experience during the ascent and motivate the climbers.
How long does it take to climb Mount Everest: Age Limit and Attempts made Every Year
The Nepalese government has implied a rule depriving age groups lower than 16 of climbing Mount Everest with no upper age limit. Whereas, the age group of 18-70 years can climb Mount Everest from the Chinese side.
The age limits were set after Romero and Poorna summited Mount Everest.
There is a minimum of 5-10 deaths per year. More expeditions take place from the Southern side—From Nepal. So, the death rate is also a bit high here as compared to the Northern side.
We’ve heard of many real stories related to Mount Everest. It’s breathtaking to know how Reinhold Messner climbed up Mount Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen.
The 13-year-old teenager Jordan Romero summited Mount Everest.
How an 80-year-old Yuichiro Miura marked a thumping Mount Everest summit becoming the oldest man to climb it.
Some of the climbers summit Mount Everest and return to their respective homes safely.
At the same time, some lose their life on the way up the mountain. Some people die on the way down even after summiting the peak.
One must have a healthy physical and mental body and proper food and diet intake beforehand and during the mountain expedition.
Conclusion: The treacherous paths and trails, dynamic weather, geographical barriers like crevasses, fear of Khumbu Icefall encounter, and many more factors count as a significant threat to the climbers and can become fatal on many occasions. All in all, it takes guts and a bit of luck to climb Mount Everest.
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