|I summited Everest on May 21, 2011 and have climbed it three other times (all from Nepal) - 2002, 2003 and 2008 each time reaching just below the Balcony at about 27,500' (8400 meters) before health, weather or my own judgment caused me to turn back. I attempted Lhotse twice - 2015 and 2016. When not climbing, I cover the Everest season from my home in Colorado as I did for the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 , 2017, 2018 and now the 2019 season.
This page is an overview of Everest climbs and an index for the other pages with more information on routes, pictures, essays, trip reports and more.
Mt. Everest is the most famous mountain in the world. Drawing climbers for almost a century, it is know as Qomolangma Peak in Tibet and Mount Sagarmatha in Nepal.
The north side was first attempted by a British team in 1922. They reached 27,300' before turning back. The 1924 British expedition with George Mallory and Andrew Irvine was notable for the mystery of whether they summited or not. Mallory's body was found in 1999 but there was no proof that he died going up or coming down. It was a Chinese team who made the first summit from Tibet on May 25, 1960 by Nawang Gombu (Tibetan) and Chinese Chu Yin-Hau and Wang Fu-zhou who is said to have climbed the Second Step in his sock feet.
However, the first summit of Mt. Everest was by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Edmund Hillary with a British expedition in 1953. They took the South Col route which is used by the majority of modern expeditions. At that time the route had only been attempted twice by Swiss teams in the spring and autumn of 1952. They reached 8500m well above the South Col. Of note, Norgay was with the Swiss thus giving him the experience he used on the British expedition. The Swiss returned in 1956 to make the second summit of Everest.
Today, hundreds of climbers from around world try to stand on top of the world.
The Himalayan Database reports that there have been 9,159 summits (4,738 members and 4,421 hired) of Everest through December 2018 on all routes by 5,294 different people. 1,211 people, mostly Sherpa, have summited multiple times. There have been 548 summits by women. The Nepal side is more popular with 5,888 summits compared to 3,271 summits from the Tibet side 211 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen, about 2.5%. 32 climbers have traversed from one side to the other. About 63% of all expeditions put at least one member on the summit.
295 people (175 westerners and 118 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to December 2018, about 3.5%. 71 died on the descent after their summit or 25%. 11 women have died. The Nepal side has 185 deaths or 3.4%, a rate of 1.23. The Tibet side has 108 deaths or 3.3%, a rate of 1.13. Most bodies are still on the mountain but China has removed many bodies from sight. The top causes of death were from avalanche (77), fall (69), altitude sickness (32) and exposure (26).
In 2018 there were 802 summits, 240 from Tibet and 562 from Nepal and 1 didn't use supplemental oxygen. There were 5 deaths.
From 1923 to 1999: 170 people died on Everest with 1,169 summits or 14.5%. But the deaths drastically declined from 2000 to 2018 with 7,990 summits and 123 deaths or 1.5%. However, two years skewed the deaths rates with 17 in 2014 and 14 in 2015. The reduction in deaths is primarily due to better gear, weather forecasting and more people climbing with commercial operations.
Of the 8000 meter peaks, Everest has the highest absolute number of deaths at 293 but ranks near the bottom with a death rate of 1.19. Annapurna is the most deadly 8000er with one death for about every three summits (71:266) or a 3.89 death rate. Cho Oyu is the safest with 3,732 summits and 51 deaths or a death rate of 0.55.
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The menu at the top of each Everest page links to:
- Pictures from the climbs are organized in six albums by the trek in, base camp, Khumbu Icefall, Lhotse Face, South Col and Above and a Best of Everest Album.
- Videos from my Everest climbs.
- Alan's Khumbu Trek, 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2011 summit Climbs with an overview and dispatches sent during the climbs
- Coverage and commentary of the Everest 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 , 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 climbing seasons
- 6 essays on topics from money to family to death
- Extras including Everest for Kids, Musical Slide Show and Pictures of the South Col Route plus the Northeast Ridge Route map and Communications from Everest
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)about climbing Mt. Everest, Khumbu Trek and 8000m climbs
Everest 2002 Climb
In 2002 I attempted Everest using the Southeast ridge route. This was my most difficult climb thus far due to the length of the trip, logistics and health. I reached 27,200' (8250m), a personal record, before turning back just below the balcony due to a lung infection. It was a fabulous trip that I never anticipated making when I starting climbing seven years earlier.
There were 155 summits in 2002 with 2 deaths.
Continue reading about the Everest 2002 climb.
Everest 2003 Climb
I returned to Everest in 2003, to attempt the South side again. While it was incredible to be back only ten months after my 2002 climb, it was a big disappointment with altitude sickness and weather problems. I knew about halfway through I would not summit so I reset my goal to go as high as I could - safely - and reached 27,200' (8250m), the exact same spot as 2002.
There were 267 summits in 2003 with 4 deaths.
Continue reading about the Everest 2003 climb.
Everest 2004 Coverage
Over 337 climbers reached the summit on all routes, 99 on May 16 and 17 alone!. 169 summiteers were clients, 169 guides and Sherpas. There were 7 deaths. By far, Sherpas have summited Everest more than any other category of climber. The most sought out Sherpas have summited 5 or more times and know the routes, conditions and how to deal with Westerners.
Continue reading about Everest in 2004
Everest 2005 Coverage
Quite a season! The summits on May 21 were the latest first summit day in 45 years of climbing Mt. Everest. Norgay and Hillary did it on May 29, the earliest was April 4 in 1984. But it was still a good year for summits with 307 climbers standing on the top of the world. Sadly there were 6 deaths.
The season started quickly with teams arriving early and getting their acclimation trips in by early May. They were assuming a "normal" season with first summits around May 15. But the Jet just sat there. It didn't move and when it did, it came back so quickly that the 3-day window never materialized. So the climbers sat in base camps. Some went down valley to enjoy the rich air and sleep on real beds, some went on sight seeing trips to nearby Monasteries and other just sat there. But they entertained themselves with chess games, concerts, hockey games and swap meets. These climbers are creative if nothing else!
Continue reading about Everest in 2005
Everest 2006 Coverage
The season started with controversy as the political unrest in Katmandu delayed many expeditions and created uncertainty that gear and climbers would arrive on time. However it all got sorted as seasoned leaders guided their teams through the bureaucracy, small arms fire and chaos that comes with a country in turmoil.
But by early April base camp on both sides were established and teams got settled in. However there was a huge surprise for this season! The weather was spectacular and teams on the north took advantage of it by aggressively fixing the ropes to the summit (and beyond!).
It was a record year for summits with 479 reaching the top from both sides but there was also 11 deaths, the most since 1996.
Continue reading about Everest in 2006
Everest 2007 Coverage
The season started early - late March - with the arrival of the huge IMG team closely followed by the Xtreme Everest Medical expedition into Nepal. Over on the north it seemed that Hollywood had moved to Tibet for April and May.
Dispatch after dispatch spoke of their "film crew" and some climbers were worried about their bad hair days. But one climber stood out - David Tait. The British climber was on a mission to raise money for his charity by attempting the never before accomplished double traverse. He began posting his thoughts, fears and observation in a rarely seen candid manner.
It was another record year for summits with 632 reaching the top from both sides but there was also 7 deaths.
Continue reading about Everest in 2007
Everest 2008 Climb
I returned to Everest in 2008, to attempt the South side again as part of The Road Back to Mt. Everest . I had trained hard with four previous high altitude climbs in the prior 8 months. I felt great the majority of the climb but felt it was too dangerous for me to continue and turned back at the Balcony or 27,500' (8300m) which was 1535 ' short of the highest point on earth. This was my highest altitude ever reached.
I have written an extensive document on the experiences during this climb as impacted by the Chinese Olympic torch summit and closure of the north and heavy restrictions on the south side. It is a PDF document named Everest 2008: Mountain of Politics
426 people summited in 2008 with only 1 death.
Continue reading about the Everest 2008 climb
Everest 2009 Coverage
Overall this was one of the safest seasons in the past few years in spite of some difficult weather that created a long delay in early May. There were over 400 summits and sadly 5 deaths on Everest and one on Lhotse.
Similar to 2008, the Chinese Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) changed the rules and gave vague guidance to teams during the critical planning period resulting in almost all of the major north side operators making the switch to Nepal. That fueled speculation of overcrowding, bottlenecks and record summits and record deaths. And in the end it was just speculation.
462 summits and 5 deaths.
Continue reading about Everest in 2009
Everest 2010 Coverage
By recent standards, Everest 2010 was a safe and successful year. There were about 537 summits (347 from the south) with 3 reported deaths, all on the north, and several injuries and rescues. The total Everest summits broke the 5,000 level since 1953.
This year's story line for climbers and their families was the weather, however it was all Jordan Romero and Apa Sherpa for the rest of the world.
For the first time in several years, the north operated in an almost normal manner. Teams dealt with a few border restrictions early but arrived at base camp and immediately began their acclimatization rotations.
On the South, the ropes were in early and the weather seemed drastically different from the North, at least in April.
Continue reading about Everest in 2010
Everest 2011 Summit
I summited Everest on May 21, 2011 from the Nepal side in 2011 with International Mountain Guides. This was part of The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer's: Memories are Everything® campaign.
It was very humbling standing on the summit after all my attempts but more gratifying was the reaction to my Alzheimer's awareness and fund raising efforts. Thank you everyone who participated.
I approached this climb quite differently from previous attempts including preparation, to training to guide service and more.
The Himalayan database states there were 537combined summits from both sides 58% summit to climbers at base camp. 375 summited from Nepal and 162 from Tibet. 4 deaths.
Read the live updates from Everest 2011
Everest 2012 Coverage
Perhaps the most dramatic year since 1996. A lack of snow combined with high winds created dangerous rock fall on the Lhotse Face causing many injures primarily to Sherpas before the route was moved to a safer passage to Camp 3.
However, these dangers plus the deaths of three Sherpas early in April from multiple causes, caused the Sherpas from Himex to lose confidence. Russell Brice, arguably the most famous of the Everest commercial operators, cancelled his entire Himalaya spring season (Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse) taking over 100 people off the mountain. It was an unprecedented decision.
The other teams continued fighting difficult weather on both sides of Everest and with only four days of suitable weather for summit pushes endured the famous crowds at the normal bottle necks of the 2nd Step, and the Hilary Step. Totally unrelated to the crowds, weather or rock fall, 6 more climbers died primarily from poor decision making or altitude related illnesses generating sensational headlines around the world and calls for regulation on Everest.
There were 558 summits in the Spring of 2012, 441 on the south and 147 on the north. 10 confirmed deaths.
Continue reading about Everest in 2012
Everest 2013 Coverage
Everest 2013 was a good year for most climbers but a difficult one for the professionals. Overall it could be termed a normal year with little drama with one large exception.
There were 670 summits in the Spring of 2013, 541 on the south and 124 on the north. 8 confirmed deaths.
For many climbers, they accomplished a life long dream, returned safely home to a family who have started to breath again. With an unparalleled lifetime experience, for some their lives were changed forever.
Continue reading about Everest 2013
Everest 2014 Coverage
The The Everest 2014 season was full of tragedy with 19 deaths, shameful exploitation and thin coverage of the real story by the general media. In my season summary, I look at what happened, the reasons for effectively closing Everest from Nepal, the roles played by all parties and some ideas on a credible path forward.
The summary is not a sound bite, it is long, complicated and will take time to digest. Just like anything with Everest it will evoke emotions and reactions. My hope is for badly needed changes on Everest. A mountain I value and whose climbers I admire - past, present and future.
There were 124 summits from the North and 4 from the South which were disputed as the climbers took helicopters to and from Cam 2. There were 17 deaths from an avalanche off the West Shoulder of Everest onto the Khumbu Ice fall.
Continue reading about Everest 2014
Everest 2015 Coverage
Another tragic season but this time due to an earthquake, not climbing events. 19 people were killed at Everest Base camp then the Chinese closed the North fearing aftershocks. Nepal continued to promote climbing but no team wanted to risk going back through the Icefall.
For the first time since 1974, there were no Spring summits on Everest from any route, any camp by any means.
Continue reading about Everest 2015
Everest 2016 Coverage
Everest 2016 was a success by many measures. Climbers achieved life long dreams and a country got a break. It was a ‘normal’ season with 648 summits in the Spring of 2016, 446 on the south and 202 on the north. 5 confirmed deaths plus one on Lhotse.
However in stark contrast to the previous four years on Everest, 2016 lacked large scale tragedy or extreme drama.
Continue reading about Everest 2016
Everest 2017 Coverage
This is one of the more difficult seasons I have covered to sum up in one word so let me use several: wind, tragedy, misinformation, spin and summits.
Overall it was a good year, a normal year with many summits on both sides plus the average death toll. I think we saw how the pressure to be first with news can backfire with incorrect stories but we also saw the power of dreams.
Similar to 2016, there were no natural disasters or issues with people getting along, other than a few individuals acting very irresponsibly and selfishly.
While weather forecasting proved to be challenging across the entire two month season, it was not an inhibitor to teams reaching the summit.
Finally the fear of overcrowding, dangers of the Khumbu Icefall or China closing Everest forever, proved unfounded.
Bottom line - it was good year on Everest and for both Nepal and China, and for hundreds who quenched a long thirst to stand on the summit of Mt. Everest.
In 2017 there were 648 summits, 237 from Tibet and 411 from Nepal and 11 didn't use supplemental oxygen. There were 6 deaths, 3 didn't use Os and only 1 died on the descent.
Read about Everest 2017
Everest 2018 Coverage
Early in May, there was talk of early summits but then the jet stream moved on top of Everest and stopped all activity for a week. When a large high-pressure system parked on the summit, the door was opened and stayed that way for 11 straight days.
The first summits were on May 14 by the rope fixing team on the Nepal side followed the next day by 70-year-old Chinese double-amputee Xia Boya with his Sherpa guides. Every day thereafter had summits from both the sides. Overall it was about as good of a season as could be expected on the world’s highest peak.
The temperatures were bit warmer than usual and the winds were calmer in spite of the occasional “difficult” summit day. With the long weather window, teams spread out thus reducing the usual crowding we’ve seen before. In 2012 there were less than five suitable summit days forcing hundreds to attempt the peak on the same day.
2018 was a record year for Everest summits. The previous record year was 2013 with 670 total summits by all routes. The Himalayan Database has updates for 2018. There were 802 summits and only 1 who did not use supplemental oxygen and 68 females. The Nepal side saw a total of 562 summits made up up 266 foreigners (aka members) and 296 High Altitude Workers (aka Sherpas). For the members who got above base camp, 76% went on to summit. On the Tibet (aka Chinese) side there were 110 summits for workers and 130 by foreigners for a total of 240 summits. 66% of the members above base camp summited. There were a total of 5 deaths in spring 2018, 4 on the Nepal side and 1 on the Tibet side. 1 climbing was climbing without supplemental oxygen and was on the south side.
Everest 2019 Coverage
The annual pre-monsoon Everest climbing season will begin around May 1, 2019 as teams travel to the Nepal and Tibet sides of the world's highest peak. China has limited their side to 300 foreign permits but this shouldn't be an issue as the largest number of foreign summits ever was in 2007 with 197. However after a record 802 total summits by all climbers on all routes last year, I expect this to be broken in 2019.
South Col Route Map
Mt. Everest was first summited by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary with a British expedition in 1953. They took the South Col route which is described on this page. At that time the route had only been attempted twice by Swiss teams in the spring and autumn of 1952. They reached 8500m well above the South Col. Of note, Norgay was with the Swiss thus giving him the experience he used on the British expedition. The Swiss return in 1956 to make the second summit of Everest. Nepal was closed to foreigners until 1950.
Today, hundreds of climbers from around the world use this route to try to stand on top of the world. It is considered slightly more dangerous than the North Ridge Route due primarily to the instability of the Khumbu Icefall. However some considered it slightly easier than the north due to the absence of the ladders and rock climbing on the steep steps of the North Ridge route.
Read more details on the South Col Route
Based on my own experiences, I worked on these skills before attempting Everest:
- Gained climbing experience to be as self sufficient as possible. All the climbing techniques and skills should be in your muscle memory and not a conscious thought
- Preparing my body to be in “Everest Shape” which is beyond "the best shape of your life"
- Building mental toughness to push yourself while being willing to turn back for safety
CLIMBING SKILLS - knots and roped team travel - crampon skills - ice axe skills including self arrest in all types of positions - crevasse rescue techniques
CAMPING SKILLS - extreme cold weather clothing techniques - packing what you need; not what you want
PHYSICAL TRAINING - stamina, cardio, strength, breathing techniques - understanding how your body performs at altitude preferably at 8000m before going to Everest
MENTAL TRAINING - getting along in close quarters with strangers for 2 months, teamwork
These pages are based on my own experiences:
1. Everest Frequently asked questions and 8000 meter mountains Frequently Asked Questions
2. Skills and Experience
3. Training and Fitness
4. Everest Gear
6. South Side Route Overview
7. North Side Route Overview
8. A description of my first Everest South Climb in 2002
9. A full report of my Everest South Summit in 2011
Northeast Ridge Route Map
The north side of Everest is steeped in history with multiple attempts throughout the 1920's and 1930's. The first attempt was by a British team in 1922. They reached 27,300' before turning back and was the first team to use supplemental oxygen. It was also on this expedition that the first deaths were reported when an avalanche killed seven Sherpas.
The 1924 British expedition with George Mallory and Andrew Irvine is most notable for the mystery of whether they summited or not. Mallory's body was found in 1999 but there no proof that he died going up or coming down.
It was a Chinese team who made the first summit from Tibet on May 25, 1960 by Nawang Gombu (Tibetan) and Chinese Chu Yin-Hau and Wang Fu-zhou who is said to have climbed the Second Step in his sock feet however without a summit photo, some doubt the summit claim. In 1975, a second summit was climbed by the Chinese and the ladder on the Second Step was installed.
Tibet was closed to foreigners from 1950 to 1980 preventing any further attempts until a Japanese team summited in 1980 via the Hornbein Couloir on the North Face. The north side started to attract more climbers in the mid 1990s and today is almost as popular as the South side when the Chinese allow permits. In 2008 and 2009, obtaining a permit was difficult thus preventing many expeditions from attempting any route from Tibet.
Read more details on the Northeast Ridge Route
Summits - updated January 2019
Early Attempts and Summits
- The first attempt was in 1921 by a British expedition from the north (Tibet) side
- The first summit was on May 29, 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa from Nepal. They climbed from the south side on a British expedition lead by Colonel John Hunt.
- The first north side summit was on May 25, 1960 by Nawang Gombu (Tibetan) and Chinese climbers Chu Yin-Hau and Wang Fu-zhou
- The youngest person to summit was American Jordan Romero, age 13 years 11 months, on May 23, 2010 from the north side.
- The oldest person to summit was Japanese Miura Yiuchiro, age 80 on May 23, 2013
- The first climbers to summit Everest without bottled oxygen were Italian Reinhold Messner with Peter Habler in 1978
- Reinhold Messner is the only person to have truly summited Everest solo and without supplemental oxygen. He did it in 1980 from the Tibet side via the Great Couloir
- The youngest male to summit was American Jordan Romero, age 13 years 10 months, on May 23, 2010 from the north side.
- The oldest male to summit was Japanese Miura Yiuchiro, age 80 on May 23, 2013
- Kami Rita (Topke) Sherpa (Thami) holds the record for most summits (male or female) with 22, the most recent one in 2018 by Kami Rita.
- Apa Sherpa (Thami Og), Phurba Tashi Sherpa (Khumjung) are next with 21 summits each. Both are now retired.
- American Dave Hahn has the most non-Sherpa summits with 15, the most recent in 2013
- The first woman to summit Everest was Junko Tabei of Japan in 1975
- The oldest woman to summit was Japanese Tamae Watanabe, age 73, in 2012 from the north
- The youngest woman to summit was Indian Malavath Poorna, 13 years 11 months on May 25, 2014 from the north side
- 536 women have summited through June 2016
- Nepali, Lakpa Sherpani holds the women's summit record with eight (1 South, 7 north)
- There have been 9,159 summits of Everest through december, 2018, on all routes by 5,294 different people.
- 1,211 people, mostly Sherpa, have summited multiple times
- The Nepal side is more popular with 5,888 summits compared to 3,271 summits from the Tibet side
- 211 climbers summited without supplemental oxygen through January 2019, about 2.3%
- 34 climbers have traversed from one side to the other.
- 582 climbers have summited from both Nepal and Tibet
- 107 climbers have summited more than once in a single season
- 295 people (175 westerners and 118 Sherpas) have died on Everest from 1924 to January 2019 or 3.5%.
- Of the deaths, 169 died attempting to summit without using supplemental oxygen.
- Of the 295 deaths, 75 died on the descent after their summit or 25%
- The Nepalese side has seen 5,888 summits with 185 deaths through January 2019 or 3.6%, a rate of 1.25. 122 died not using Os.
- The Tibet side has seen 3,271 summits with 108 deaths through January 2019 or 3.7%, a rate of 1.13. 47 died not using Os.
- Most bodies all are still on the mountain but China has removed many bodies from sight.
- The top causes of death on both sides were from avalanche (77), fall (67), altitude sickness (32) and exposure (26).
- About 68% of all expeditions put at least one member on the summit.
- From 1923 to 1999: 170 people died on Everest with 1,169 summits or 14.5%. But the deaths drastically declined from 2000 to 2019 with 7,990 summits and 123 deaths or 1.7%.
- However, two years skewed the deaths rates with 17 in 2014 and 14 in 2015.
- The reduction in deaths is primarily due to better gear, weather forecasting and more people climbing with commercial operations.
See more stats at this page
*courtesy of the Himalayan Database, 8000ers.com and my own research.