One cannot write about the Top Ten Mountains Worldwide without mentioning the world famous Mount Everest. Known as the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest stretches to almost 30,000 feet above sea level. Situated on the Nepalese side of the stunning Himalayan mountain range, Everest has long been the Holy Grail of mountain climbing, and is known as the Holy Mother in local languages.
The standard route up Mount Everest has been taken by some of the world’s most experienced climbers, but is also reasonably accessible to those with less experience if they are accompanied by knowledgeable local sherpas. In fact, one of the biggest challenges in scaling Mount Everest is the purchase of the locally required pass, which can cost up to $20,000!
Having said that, it’s not all plain sailing on the way up Mount Everest, and the mountain has seen its fare share of tragedies and deaths, caused mainly by inclement weather and problems caused at the highest altitudes, where even basic functions are incredibly difficult.
Sir Edmund Hillary and his local guide, Tenzing Norgay, were the first recorded individuals to climb the mountain, via the most common route from the south east, entering the base on Nepal. A large amount of time (often over a week) is spent at the base camp, which is reached by hiking for about 6 days, in order to correctly adjust oneself to the altitude of about 18,000 feet.
From there, it is a second climb to the second base at around 21,500 feet, before reaching camp three and later camp four, which is found just before entering the Death Zone. At these altitudes, many basic functions are incredibly difficult and, as a result, those wishing to reach the very summit have only a couple of days to do so before they put their bodies in real danger.
Dangers include the consequences of altitude sickness, frost bite and any number of falling or slipping risks. The majority of these happen in the so called death zone, which is described as any part of the climb over 26,000 feet. Frostbite is a common occurrence at these altitudes, as is hypoxia. Deaths do occur during the climb and descent, and the majority of bodies are left on the mountain, as taking them back to base camp is usually deemed impractical and too risky for surviving climbers.
The climbing industry around Mount Everest is not without its controversy, and there have been a number of incidents that have sparked debate and comment throughout the world of climbing. One of the most controversial incidents involves the circumstances surrounding the death of maths teacher David Sharp, who died near the summit and was passed by a large number of climbers on the ascent and decent. No rescue attempt was made, and many climbers are rumoured to have ignored Sharp on the way up. These events were criticised heavily by Hilary, whilst others claimed Sharp was ill prepared, disorganised, and that a rescue attempt would have been in vain. Other controversies include theft from climbers’ base camps, resulting in death and vulnerability, as well as the use of oxygen tanks by many to reach the summit at speed.
(Image by topgold on Flickr)