Mount Everest is located on the border between Tibet and Nepal in the Himalayas in Asia.
Everest is situated in the Mahalangur Range on the Tibetan Plateau known as Qing Zang Gaoyuan. The summit is directly between Tibet and Nepal.
Mount Everest keeps some tall company. The Mahalangur Range is home to four of the earth's six highest peaks. Mount Everest kind of looms in the background. First-timers to Nepal often aren't really sure which mountain is Everest until someone clarifies for them!
On the Nepali side, Mount Everest is located in the Sagarmatha National Park in the Solukhumbu District. On the Tibetan side, Mount Everest is located in Tingri County in the Xigaze area, what China considers to be an autonomous region and part of the People's Republic of China.
Because of political restrictions and other factors, the Nepali side of Everest is most accessible and more often in the spotlight. When someone says they are going to "trek to Everest Base Camp," they are talking about South Base Camp at 17,598 feet in Nepal.
How High Is Mount Everest?
The survey accepted by Nepal and China (for now) yielded: 29,029 feet (8,840 meters) above sea level.
As technology improves, different surveying techniques keep producing different results for the literal height of Mount Everest. Geologists disagree whether measurements should be based on permanent snow or rock. Adding to their stress, tectonic movement is making the mountain grow a little each year!
At 29,029 feet (8,840 meters) above sea level, Mount Everest is the highest and most prominent mountain on earth based on measurement to sea level.
Where Did the Name "Everest" Come From?
Strangely, earth's tallest mountain didn't get its Western name from anyone who had climbed it. The mountain is named for Sir George Everest, the Welsh Surveyor General of India at the time. He didn't want the honor and protested the idea for many reasons.
The political figures in 1865 didn't listen and still renamed "Peak XV" to "Everest" in honor of Sir George Everest. What's worse, the Welsh pronunciation is actually "Eave-rest" not "Ever-est"!
Mount Everest already had several local names transliterated from different alphabets, but none were common enough to make official without hurting someone's feelings. Sagarmatha, the Nepali name for Everest and the surrounding national park, wasn't put into use until the 1960s.
The Tibetan name for Everest is Chomolungma which means "Holy Mother."
How Much Does It Cost to Climb Mount Everest?
Climbing Mount Everest is expensive. And it's one of those endeavors where you don't really want to cut corners on cheap equipment or hire someone who doesn't know what they're doing.
The permit from the Nepalese government costs US $11,000 per climber. That's an expensive piece of paper. But the other not-so-little fees and charges stack onto that quickly.
You'll be charged per day at base camp to have rescue on hand, insurance to get your body extracted if necessary...the fees can quickly climb to $25,000 before you even buy the first piece of equipment or hire Sherpas and a guide.
The "Ice Doctor" Sherpas who prepare the season's route want compensation. You'll also be paying daily fees for cooks, phone access, garbage removal, weather forecasts, etc.—you could be at Base Camp for up to two months or more, depending on how long you acclimate.
Gear that can withstand the hell doled out on an Everest expedition isn't cheap. A single supplemental 3-liter oxygen bottle can cost more than $500 each. You'll need at least five, maybe more. You'll have to buy for the Sherpas, too. Properly rated boots and climbing suit will both cost at least $1,000. Choosing cheap stuff could cost you toes. Personal gear usually runs between $7,000-10,000 per expedition.
According to writer, speaker, and Seven-Summit climber Alan Arnette, the average price to reach the summit of Everest from the south with a Western guide was $66,000 in 2019.
In 1996, Jon Krakauer's team paid $65,000 each for their summit bids. If you really want to increase your chances of reaching the top and staying alive to tell about it, you'll want to hire David Hahn. With 15 successful summit attempts, he holds the record for a non-Sherpa climber. Tagging along with him will cost you over $115,000.
Who Climbed Mount Everest First?
Sir Edmund Hillary, a beekeeper from New Zealand and his Nepalese Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, were the first to reach the summit on May 29, 1953, at around 11:30 a.m. The duo reportedly buried some candies and a small cross before immediately descending to celebrate becoming a part of history.
At the time, Tibet was closed to foreigners because of the conflict with China. Nepal allowed only one Everest expedition per year; previous expeditions had come very close but failed to reach the summit.
Controversy and theories still rage about whether or not British mountaineer George Mallory reached the summit in 1924 before perishing on the mountain. His body wasn't found until 1999. Everest is very good at generating controversies and conspiracies.
Notable Everest Climbing Records
- Apa Sherpa successfully reached the summit 21 times in May 2011. He now lives in Utah.
- In 2013, Sherpa Phurba Tashi tied Apa Sherpa with his 21st successful summit attempt. Tashi is well known for his role in the heartrending 2015 documentary Sherpa.
- American Dave Hahn holds the record number of successful attempts for a non-Sherpa; he reached the summit for his 15th time in May 2013.
- Jordan Romero—a 13-year-old boy from California—set the record for being the youngest to climb Mount Everest on May 22, 2010. He made the summit with his father and step-mother. He also went on to become the youngest to finish climbing the Seven Summits.
- American Melissa Arnot summited for her 6th time in 2016. She holds the record for successful summits by a non-Sherpa woman.
Climbing Mount Everest
Because the summit is directly between Tibet and Nepal, Mount Everest can be climbed either from the Tibetan side (the north ridge) or from the Nepalese side (the southeast ridge).
Starting in Nepal and climbing from the southeast ridge is generally considered the easiest, both for mountaineering and bureaucratic reasons. Climbing from the north is a little cheaper, however, rescues are far more complicated and helicopters aren't allowed to fly on the Tibetan side.
Most climbers attempt to climb Mount Everest from the southeast side in Nepal, beginning at 17,598 feet from Everest Base Camp.
Descending Mount Everest
Most deaths on Mount Everest occur during descent. Depending on what time climbers leave for the summit, they must descend almost immediately once they reach the top to avoid running out of oxygen. Time is always against climbers in the Death Zone. Very few get to hang out, rest, or enjoy the view after all the hard work!
Although some climbers do linger long enough to make a satellite phone call home.
Elevations above 8,000 meters (26,000 feet) high are considered the "Death Zone" in mountaineering. The area lives up to its name. Oxygen levels at that elevation are too thin (around a third of the air present at sea level) to support human life. Most climbers, already exhausted by the attempt, would die quickly without supplemental oxygen.
Sporadic retinal hemorrhaging sometimes occurs in the Death Zone, causing climbers to go blind. A 28-year-old British climber suddenly went blind in 2010 during his descent and perished on the mountain.
In 1999, Babu Chiri Sherpa set a new record by remaining on the summit for over 20 hours. He even slept on the mountain! Sadly, the tough Nepalese guide perished in 2001 after a fall on his 11th attempt.
Mount Everest Deaths
Although deaths on Mount Everest get a lot of media attention because of the mountain's notoriety, Everest certainly isn't the deadliest mountain on earth.
Annapurna I in Nepal has the highest fatality rate for climbers, roughly 32 percent. Ironically, Annapurna is last on the list of the top-10 highest mountains in the world. At around 29 percent, K2 has the second-highest fatality rate.
By comparison, Mount Everest has a current fatality rate of less than 1%. This figure includes deaths from avalanches or falls.
The deadliest season in the history of Everest attempts was in 1996 when poor weather and bad decisions caused the deaths of 15 climbers. The disastrous season on Mount Everest is the focus of many books, including Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air.
The deadliest avalanche in the history of Mount Everest occurred on April 25, 2015, when at least 21 people lost their lives at Base Camp. The avalanche was triggered by an earthquake that devastated much of the country. The previous year, an avalanche killed 16 Sherpas at Base Camp who were preparing routes for the season. The climbing season was subsequently closed.
Trekking to Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp in Nepal is visited by thousands of trekkers each year. No mountaineering experience or technical equipment is necessary for the difficult hike. But you will definitely need to be able to deal with cold (the simple plywood rooms in lodges aren't heated) and acclimate to the altitude.
At Base Camp, there is only 53 percent of the oxygen available at sea level. Several hikers a year ignore the signs of Acute Mountain Sickness and actually perish on the route. Ironically, those who are trekking independently in Nepal suffer fewer problems. A running theory suggests that trekkers on organized tours are more afraid to let the group down by speaking up about a headache.
Ignoring the signs of AMS (headache, dizziness, disorientation) is very dangerous—don't!
The Top 10 Tallest Mountains in the World
Measurements are based on sea level.
- Mount Everest: 29,035 feet (8,850 meters)
- K2 (located between China and Pakistan): 28,251 feet (8,611 meters)
- Kangchenjunga (located between India and Nepal): 28,169 feet (8,586 meters)
- Lhotse (part of the Everest range): 27,940 feet (8,516 meters)
- Makalu (located between Nepal and China): 27,838 feet (8,485 meters)
- Cho Oyu (near Mount Everest between Nepal and China): 26,864 feet (8,188 meters)
- Dhaulagiri I (Nepal): 26,795 feet (8,167 meters)
- Manaslu (Nepal): 26,781 feet (8,163 meters)
- Nanga Parbat (Pakistan): 26,660 feet (8,126 meters)
- Annapurna I (Nepal): 26,545 feet (8,091 meters)