Mount Everest Expedition Route

Everest: the Route of Ascent

In 98% of cases climbers reach the summit of Everest by only two routes: the northeast (Tibetan/Chinese) and southeast (Nepalese) ridges.

For most climbers any other routes to the summit of Everest are too dangerous, too difficult and no commercial expeditions go there. It may be an exaggeration to say that almost all of the routes that can be climbed to the summit of Everest have been taken by a new generation of climbers, who always find unconventional ways to solve the problem.

To date, Everest, being the summit of the world and the most popular mountain among climbers, has been well explored from all sides and about 20 different options for climbing to the summit have been discovered and almost all of them have been attempted at least once. Two of these options are still considered unclimbed to this day:

  • The east ridge, or Fantasy ridge, so named by George Mallory and involving the Three Gendarmes, was planned by the Americans in 2006, but it remains the last unclimbed ridge route to the third pole.
  • Diretissima (direct route) of the Eastern Wall (Kangshung Wall). The base of the 3 km wide Kangshung Wall almost all consists of rocks with overhanging ledges, separated by deep narrow crevices. The danger of avalanches is very high, especially in storm winds: unstable snow lies on the tops of the cliffs, there are deadly “ice towers”.

Both of these routes are incredibly dangerous and difficult, and avalanches are the most common.

The route from the Southwest Wall (from Nepal)

Trekking and acclimatization to the summit of Mount Lobuche 6119 meters. Many teams are now climbing Lobuche as part of their acclimatization before Everest, thereby reducing the number of treks through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall

Base Camp: 5,334 meters.

This is home for two months. It is located on a shifting glacier and from time to time the climbers’ tents may move out of position and the ice underneath may melt. It is a rugged but beautiful area, surrounded by Mount Pumori and Khumbu Icefall with warm mornings and snow flurries in the middle of the day.

With the sheer number of tents, generators, and people, it all feels like a small village.

The first high-altitude camp: Camp1 (5943 m). The approach time from the base camp is from 4 to 6 hours, the distance from the base camp is 2600 m.

The approach to the first high altitude camp is quite a dangerous journey, because it goes through the Khumbu Icefall – moving blocks of ice, sometimes shifting at a speed of a couple of meters per day. It is the deep ice cracks and high seracs that pose the greatest danger.

Second high altitude camp: Camp2 (6400 m). Approach time from the first high camp is 2 to 3 hours, the distance from the first camp is 2800 m.

The route from the first to the second high altitude camp passes through the Valley of Silence (aka Valley of Silence, Western Circus or Western Cwm) – it is a wide, flat, slightly hilly glacial valley (glacial basin) located at the foot of Jomolungma Lhodze Wall. It was so named by George Mellory in 1921 during the “British Reconnaissance Expedition”, which first explored the upper parts of Jomolungma in search of routes for future ascents to the summit.

It involves overcoming a series of cracks in the ice, but the greatest obstacle for climbers is the heat transmitted by the sun’s rays and the great avalanche danger from the West Shoulder of Everest, which has overturned avalanches on the first high camp several times in the past few years.

Articles by: Minta Courtney
Images by: Rodney Christian

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