How Long Does It Take to Climb Mount Everest?
Climbing the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest, is undoubtedly a dream many a mountaineer or adventurer has nurtured. While the feat is remarkable, the timeframe involved is often vastly underestimated. It is not merely a challenge of muscular strength and stamina, but also a test of endurance, mental grit, and preparation. Knowing how long it will take to climb Mount Everest forms an integral part of successful planning.
Factor in Preparation Time
A critical phase that unusually remains unaccounted for is the preparation time. The journey to the summit begins months, sometimes even years, before the actual climb. Mount Everest is not meant for novice climbers. It typically requires ample trekking experience, preferably at high altitude. Therefore, the preparation time may extend over several years if you are starting as a beginner. Look at training that builds overall strength and endurance, alongside mountaineering skills and survival training.
Once you feel you are ready for the strenuous challenge Mount Everest provides, it’s time to pick a climbing season. The mountain is typically climbed during two seasons – from April to May (pre-monsoon) and from September to November (post-monsoon).
Actual Climbing Time
The actual mountaineering challenge takes around 40 to 60 days. Yes, you read that right. Climbing up and down is not about a continuous uphill climb. It comprises a series of ascents and descents primarily undertaken to assist the body acclimatize to the increasing altitude.
Here is a simplified breakdown:
From Kathmandu, expedition members fly to Lukla, a small town at an elevation of 2,610 meters. From there, they trek to Everest Base Camp, which takes approximately ten days. Before they begin their ascent, climbers spend at least a week at Base Camp for the acclimatization process.
Stages of ascent and descent follow, which are important for further acclimatization. The first important point climbers ascend to is Camp II, followed by an immediate return to Base Camp. This process typically takes about a week.
The same process repeats for Camp III – ascend, acclimatize, and descend. Add another week to the climbing record.
Next, there is a longer acclimatization phase back at Base Camp, often taking around ten days since reaching the summit from Camp III would take around six to seven days.
Successful descent after reaching the summit of Mount Everest can take up to four days.
All in all, incorporating all these stages, the entire process accounts for a total of approximately two months.
Why Does It Take So Long?
If you’re wondering why climbing Mount Everest takes so long, it’s primarily due to the acclimatization process. At 29,031 feet, Everest’s terrain is harsh, and the oxygen level is thin. Without acclimatization, climbers would be subjected to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), which can often prove to be fatal.
Factor in potential delays to your Everest climbing plans. Weather on Mount Everest can be unpredictable and can hinder the climbing process. High winds, heavy snowfall, or even an avalanche can delay the climb by days or even weeks.
Q1: Is climbing Mount Everest dangerous?
A1: Yes, climbing Mount Everest is dangerous due to the altitude, tough physical condition, extreme weather, and risk of natural disasters such as avalanches and earthquakes. Each year, several fatalities are reported on Mount Everest.
Q2: How much does it cost to climb Mount Everest?
A2: The cost of climbing Mount Everest can range from $35,000 to $100,000. This includes the climbing permit, guide, gears, food, and other essentials.
Q3: Can anyone climb Mount Everest?
A3: While there’s no legal restriction, it’s recommended that only experienced high-altitude climbers take on Mount Everest due to its high risk and extreme physical demands.
Q4: What is the shortest time anyone has climbed Mount Everest?
A4: The shortest time recorded for a Mount Everest ascent was by Pemba Dorje Sherpa in 2004, who reached the summit in just 8 hours and 10 minutes. However, this is exceptionally rare and not recommended due to the lack of proper acclimatization, which can be deadly.
Q5: Is Mount Everest the hardest mountain to climb?
A5: While Mount Everest is the highest peak globally, it’s not considered the most difficult to climb. Mountains such as K2 and Annapurna have lower elevations but are technically more challenging and have higher fatality rates.