Why are There So Many Deaths on Mount Everest?
The allure of Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, is unarguably irresistible. The majestic and often perilous mountain resides in the Himalayas of Nepal, at an astounding height of 29,032 ft. It has attracted mountaineers from around the globe for decades, each with a dream to conquer its summit. Mount Everest has become a symbol of grandeur and power, inviting adventure seekers to prove their mettle against its unprecedented height. However, achieving this dream is not without risk.
The Dangerous Appeal of Mount Everest
Mount Everest is, by no means, a trek for the faint-hearted. Despite equipped with cutting-edge gear and guided by seasoned sherpas, climbers still face perilous and often fatal challenges. It is these constant challenges that make it the perfect ground for understanding why it holds a high mortality rate.
Extreme Weather Conditions
Fundamentally, the harsh weather conditions and extreme cold on the Everest are one of the main causes of fatalities there. Powerful winds and deadly blizzards can suddenly appear out of a clear sky. The temperature can drop to -60 degrees Celsius, leading to potentially fatal hypothermia. Frostbite is also a common hazard due to the extreme cold, which can result in amputation and in severe cases can lead to death.
The ‘Death Zone’ Impact
Nicknamed the Death Zone, the region above 8,000m (26,247 ft) on Mount Everest is perhaps the deadliest of challenges awaiting climbers. The Death Zone is marked by an incredible scarcity of oxygen and meagre atmospheric pressure. The lack of ample oxygen can lead to altitude sickness, causing dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and in severe cases, even fatality.
Exhaustion & Overexertion
Exhaustion is another serious enemy of those who attempt to scale Everest. The physical exertion and the psychological stress both drain a climber’s strength. Traversing turbulent weather, bracing wind chills while hauling heavy equipment up challenging inclines can often lead to energy depletion.
Mount Everest climbing is fraught with risks. Avalanches, crevasses, rockfall, and flimsy ice cliffs (Seracs) can cause accidents at any step. Several climbers have met their end due to these unavoidable natural hazards.
The Impact of Overcrowding
Finally, overcrowding has emerged as a prominent risk factor in recent years. With the surge of mountaineering tourism, traffic jams on the climbing route are becoming common. This slows down the ascent and descent, prolonging climbers’ exposure to high altitude and harsh weather. Consequently, this can increase the likelihood of fatigue, frostbite, and altitude sickness.
Mount Everest is a test of ambition and human endurance. Despite the dangers, climbers continue to flock to its challenging peaks. However, with every successful summit comes a myriad of failed attempts, many resulting in fatalities. It is an odyssey that should never be underestimated, requiring immense physical prowess and psychological resilience.
1. How many people have died on Mount Everest?
As per reports, more than 300 people have died on Mount Everest since the first ascent attempt in 1921.
2. Why is Mount Everest called the ‘Death Zone’?
The term ‘Death Zone’ refers to the altitude above 8,000m where the amount of oxygen is insufficient to sustain human life. Mount Everest’s summit is within this zone, hence the moniker.
3. Is Mount Everest the deadliest mountain?
While Mount Everest has a high fatality rate, it’s not technically the deadliest mountain. This ominous title goes to Annapurna I Main in Nepal, with a fatality-to-summit rate of 32% compared to Everest’s 1.6%.
4. How long does it take to climb Mount Everest?
Climbing Mount Everest typically takes about two months. This includes several weeks at the base camp for acclimatisation, followed by a week to ten days for the actual ascent.
5. What is the most common cause of death on Mount Everest?
The most common cause of death on Mount Everest is exposure to extreme weather conditions, followed closely by falls, avalanches, altitude sickness, and exhaustion.