What is the South Col on Mount Everest?

What is the South Col on Mount Everest?

Unveiling the South Col on Mount Everest

Mount Everest, not only the tallest peak in the world but also a formidable symbol of adventure, thrill, and human endurance, reshaping the limits of what mankind can achieve. For countless individuals captivated by the allure of mountaineering, its name resonates with a sense of awe and respect. Within the intricate topography of Mount Everest, one significant features stands out – the South Col. So, what exactly is the South Col on Mount Everest?

Location of South Col

The South Col, known as Parvat in Nepali, is located at an impressive altitude of approximately 7,986 meters (26,000 feet) above sea level, in between two colossal peaks – Mount Everest and Lhotse. It lies in the Eastern part of Nepal and is a part of the larger Solu-Khumbu region, which is famous among mountaineers worldwide.

Significance of South Col

South Col is significant for its unique geographical structure and its critical role in Everest expeditions. The flat, saddle-like area provides the last suitable campsite (Camp IV) for climbers before they make the final push towards the Everest summit. The infamous ‘death zone’ of Everest begins from the South Col, where the air is thin, and oxygen levels are treacherously low.

The Route through South Col

The South Col route is considered somewhat ‘easier’ than its northern counterpart, mainly due to the relatively less complicated terrain. The route was first successfully ascended by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953. Despite its relative ease, the route through the South Col presents its challenges, such intensified altitude sickness, extreme weather conditions, and potentially fatal avalanches.

The Challenges of South Col

While the South Col may appear benign, conditions can change rapidly because of its high altitude and open expanse. Storms can spring up in mere moments, bringing blistering winds that can wipe out camps and equipment. It’s under these ruthless conditions that climbers must gather their strength, battle the ominous altitude sickness, and push onward to the zenith of Everest.

The Allure of South Col

Despite the risks associated with its ruthless conditions, the South Col remains an enticing portion of the Everest journey for countless mountaineers. Its panoramic views, the raw thrill of being in the ‘death zone,’ and the joy knowing that the summit is just within reach, form an integral part of the haunting allure of South Col.


1. Why is South Col named as such?

The term ‘Col’ denotes the lowest point in a mountain ridge between two peaks. The South Col of Mount Everest got its name due to its location on the southern side of the ridge connecting Everest and Lhotse.

2. How does the South Col look like?

The South Col is a flat, saddle-like area. It is often covered in hard-packed snow, with occasional patches of exposed rock.

3. What is the death zone at the South Col?

The ‘death zone’ is a term referred to altitudes above 8,000 meters, where the level of oxygen in the atmosphere is insufficient to sustain human life. Beginning at the South Col, climbers enter into the death zone of Mount Everest.

4. Why do climbers rest at South Col before making the final push?

South Col serves as the last major camp for climbers due to its relatively flat terrain. Here, climbers rest, acclimatize, and gather strength before making the final climb for the summit of Everest.

5. What are the risks associated with South Col?

South Col’s altitude and ruthless weather conditions pose massive risks. Altitude sickness, hypothermia, harmful UV radiation, and potential avalanches are significant risks associated with South Col.