Accomplishing the Impossible: Summiting Mount Everest from Both North and South
As the world’s highest peak standing tall at an elevation of [8,848.86 meters](https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54821482), Mount Everest continues to challenge and inspire countless adventurers from all over the world. Climbers often set out on the journey with their eyes set on the ultimate prize—reaching the mountain’s summit. But what if scaling just one side didn’t stop these thrill-seekers? What if they chose to conquer both the north and south faces of this incredible monolith?
Climbing Everest: A Herculean Task
Climbing Everest is not an everyday task. It demands superior physical strength, relentless preparation, and an indomitable will. Even with these qualities, the risks associated with the climb—unpredictable weather, extreme cold, and the thin mountain air—can prove lethal. For an adventurer, summiting Everest from either its south side (from Nepal) or its north side (from Tibet, China) is often considered a feat of a lifetime.
Conquering Both Faces of Everest
While completing the climb via a single route is a remarkable achievement, a few daredevils didn’t stop there. They have successfully accomplished the extraordinary—scaling Mount Everest from both its north and south faces.
The formidable list of climbers who have made this extraordinary accomplishment is small but growing. Renowned climber Ed Viesturs from the United States completed his ascents from the south in 1990 and from the north in 2004. Simultaneously, Dave Hahn, an American mountaineer, also successfully summited from both directions, commanding global attention.
These feats are significant since the two faces of Everest present unique challenges, offering significantly different climbing experiences. The south side is notoriously more dangerous due to its challenging Khumbu Icefall. Comparatively, the north side is known for its deadly winds and arduous summit day.
Austria’s Reinhold Messner, who was the first mountaineer to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen, has also climbed it from the Nepal (South) side in 1978 and the Tibet (North) side in 1980.
Going Beyond the Impossible
Besides climbing both sides, a few exceptional mountaineers have continued to redefine the boundaries of human limits. Apa Sherpa, a Nepalese climber, holds the record for the maximum successful summits—21 times. Spanish climber Edurne Pasaban became the first woman to climb all fourteen eight-thousanders—mountains that stand above 8,000 meters—in the world.
However, let’s remember that every climb, no matter how grand, carries with it a great deal of risks, and the ethics of mountaineering must always underscore the value of human life over achievement.
1. Who was the first climber to summit Mount Everest?
The first confirmed and recognized climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest were Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay from Nepal in 1953.
2. Is climbing Mount Everest from the North side more dangerous than the South?
Both sides carry significant risks due to severe weather conditions, avalanches, or altitude sickness. Generally, the South is considered more dangerous due to the potentially deadly Khumbu Icefall.
3. Who was the first climber to summit Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen?
Reinhold Messner from Italy and Peter Habeler from Austria were the first to reach the peak without supplemental oxygen use, accomplishing this feat in 1978.
4. How long does it typically take to climb Mount Everest?
Around two months are usually needed to climb Everest, considering the time required for acclimatizations and waiting for a suitable window in the weather to do the final push.
5. How many people have successfully climbed Mount Everest from both sides?
While there’s no exact count, a significant number of mountaineers have successfully navigated both sides of the mountain. Included in this elite list are renowned climbers like Reinhold Messner, Ed Viesturs, and Dave Hahn.
6. Who holds the record for the most ascents on Mount Everest?
The record for the most ascents goes to Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa, each with 21 successful climbs.