What are the main routes to climb Mount Everest?

What are the main routes to climb Mount Everest?


Climbing Mount Everest is no simple task. Located in the Himalayas and boasting a staggering height of 8,848 metres, it is the highest peak on Earth. For many adventurers, reaching its summit is their ultimate goal, becoming a reality after overcoming numerous challenges. There are two main routes to climb Mount Everest, each with its own unique characteristics.

The South-Col Route

The first and most popular route is the South-Col route which starts in Nepal. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the first individuals to reach the summit in 1953, used this route. Due to its historical significance and relative ease, most mountaineers prefer the South-Col route.

The climber begins their journey in Lukla, a small town with an airport linking to Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. The trek from Lukla to Base Camp takes approximately 10 days, adjusted for proper acclimatisation. The Base Camp, situated at 5,380 meters, is a bustling hub for climbers preparing to ascend the Everest.

From Base Camp, climbers navigate through the Khumbu icefall, one of the most dangerous stages of the climb characterised by rapidly shifting, unpredictable glaciers. A wrong step could lead to calamitous results; thus, experienced icefall doctors lay ladders and ropes for guidance.

Camp 2, the next stop, lies at 6,400 meters and is a rest point. It’s followed by ascending Lhotse Wall which leads to Camp 3. Then it’s via the Yellow Band and Geneva Spur to reach South Col or Camp 4 at about 7,920 meters. Here, climbers rest and prepare for their final push to the summit.

The North-East Ridge Route

The second major route is the North-East Ridge route from Tibet, which was initially examined by a British team in the 1920s. The team even ascended to over 8,000 meters, making it the highest point reached by man at that time.

The expedition starts in the town of Tingri in Tibet. After acclimatising, climbers begin their journey towards the Everest’s Advanced Base Camp at 6,400 meters. The primary obstacle en route is the Rongbuk Glacier, although much safer than Khumbu Icefall.

Camps 1, 2, and 3 are then accessed via the East Rongbuk Glacier and North Col. Each offers minimal shelter against fierce winds. The final stretch to the summit includes navigating the famous ‘First, Second and Third Steps’, involving near-vertical rock climbing.

Both routes are extremely challenging as they demand not only physical stamina but also mental fortitude in the face of unpredictable weather and altitude sickness.


1. How long does it typically take to climb Mount Everest?

2. What is the best time of the year to climb Mount Everest?

The optimal period to climb Mount Everest is during the pre-monsoon season (April to May) and post-monsoon season (September to November). During these times, the weather is generally stable, increasing the probability of a successful climb.

3. How dangerous is it to climb Mount Everest?

Mount Everest holds a risk due to factors like extreme altitude, harsh weather conditions, and treacherous crevasses. As of 2021, there have been more than 300 recorded fatalities.

4. Why is the South Col route more popular?

The South Col route is favoured for its less challenging topography. However, it is not safer than the North Col route as each path has its unique challenges and risks.

5. What is the cost of climbing Mount Everest?

The cost of climbing Everest can range between $25,000 and $75,000 per person. The price includes permit fees, guides, equipment, food, and other logistical essentials.

Climbing Mount Everest is undoubtedly a daunting task. However, with the right knowledge, preparation, and guidance, reaching the summit can be a reality.