How long does it take to climb Mount Everest?

  • Mon-Jul-2019

How long does it take to climb Mount Everest?

Since 1953, when Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary first submitted the Everest, people around the world was left in the mix of awe and curiosity that even then the tallest and the dangerous monument by nature is vincible, and what it actually takes?

Of course, located at an altitude of 8,848 meters above sea level, Everest is far from the word “easy.” We can just imagine the magnitude of its eminence and the level of strength and determination it requires to reach the peak.

Scaling this majestic peak is in the wish-list many people around the world, after all, who doesn’t want the glory of conquering the Everest. From the length of time to scale the Everest to what route should you take, there are many things one must know in detail before embarking in this challenging journey.

Now, climbing the tallest mountain in the world certainly takes a comprehensive plan, and executing it shouldn’t be rushing to the end. As different camps are set at different altitude allowing mountaineering to have enough acclimatization, climbing Everest doesn’t have a rigid number of days because if you start getting serious altitude sickness in Camp II, then you may have to rest for more days to get back to normal and scale up. 

However, in this article, I have tried to provide a more general picture. Also, as Everest is located between the border of Nepal and China, there are two different routes from these two countries. Scaling up from Nepal is a more safer option, as the death rate compared to other is relatively low and helicopter evacuation is possible from this side. This article stats the climbing detail from Nepal route, which is also known as “Standard Route.”

Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp

Your Everest expedition starts right from the Kathmandu city, from where you will fly towards Lukla and trek upward to Namche Bazaar. Also, known as Sherpa Capital and Gateway to Everest, Namche Bazaar sits at 3,440 meters and takes around two days to reach from Lukla.

From Namche, it takes another two days to reach Dingboche (4,260 meters) and another two to finally arrive at Everest Base Camp at 5,380 meters.

It usually takes ten days or around to arrive at base camp as days of acclimatization as included too. 

There are four different Camps from Everest Base Camp at a different height. So, brace yourself, cause the real challenge is yet to come.

Everest Base Camp to Camp I

After spending a couple of weeks acclimatizing and preparing themselves, climbers head towards Camp I. Camp I is located at an elevation of 6,065 meters and while the journey from base camp to Camp I, Khumbu Icefall is the main challenge, which is also considered one of the dangerous stages to Everest from Nepal’s side.

Khumbu Icefall is at 5,468 meters, just above the Everest Base Camp that features seracs, crevasses and shifting blocks of ice. Climbers cross this icefall during the very early morning, before sunrise, when it is partially frozen during the night. 

It is most dangerous to cross the icefall during mid to late afternoon, as sunlight warms the area and the friction between the ice structure is less and increases the chances of crevasses opening or blocks of snow and ice falling.

Experienced, strong, and acclimatized climbers pass the icefall in a few hours, while the first time climbers lacking experience and acclimatization often takes 10-12 hours.

Camp I is a vast and flat area of endless snow with several deep crevasses and mountain walls washed by avalanches.

It is a journey of hours from Base Camp to Camp I; it is the days you spend in Base camp for acclimatization that consumes your itinerary. 

Camp I to Camp II

Camp II is also known as Advance Base Camp located at an elevation of 6,500 meters. Making way further from Camp I, climbers make their way to Western Cwn to the base of Lhotse face.

Also, known as Valley of Silence because the topography of the area generally cuts off wind from the climbing route, Western Cwn is the point from where the first glimpse of Everest upper slopes can be seen. 

It is a falt, gently rising glacial valley, marked by huge lateral crevasses in the center preventing direct access to its upper reach. Due to this very reason, climbers cross Western Cwn on the far right, near the base of Nuptse, to a small passageway known as “Nuptse corner.” In a clear, windless day, crossing Western Cwn can be unbearably hot.

It takes around two to three to come across and arrive at Camp III.

Camp II to Camp III

From Camp II, climber ascends the Lhotse face on fixed ropes to Camp III. Lhotse face is difficult to scale up as it is steep and ice hard, and moreover, climbers start feeling the effects of extreme altitude and aren’t using supplemental oxygen as well.

Located at 7,470 meters, Camp III is a long climb, but most of it is requires for acclimatization. It usually takes from three to six hours to reach Camp III.

Camp III to Camp IV

Now, from Camp III, climbers face the additional challenge of the Geneva Spur and Yellow Band. It begins across the Yellow Band with a steep start but settles into a sustained grade as the altitude increases. It is the point when climbers use their supplemental oxygen for the first time. It is not a difficult climb, but given the altitude, it can be challenging. It takes around three hours from Camp IV to get pass Yellow Band.

Geneva Spur leads you to the South Col and has some of the steepest climbing so far. It takes about two hours for crossing Geneva Spur and arrive at the final camp, Camp IV at 7,920 meters.

Camp IV to Summit

There is still another 1,000 meter to scale up from Camp IV and is the definitely the most critical climb. Climbers being their last push to the summit around midnight so that they can reach the summit in 10 to 12 hours.

From Camp IV, after about an hour, you get to South Col (8,016 meters), from where you enter Death Zone (above 8,000 meters). Coming this far, climber has reached the extreme zone, where they cannot spend more than two or three days. If the weather doesn’t cooperate and the wind isn’t on your side, climbers are compelled to descend all the way back to Base Camp.

Scaling towards the summit, climbers first reach “Balcony” at 8,400 meters, where they take some rest, have food and water and swap oxygen bottles. Then continuing the steep walk from “Balcony,” at 8,750 meters, climbers arrive in a small table-sized dome of ice and snow marks of South Summit. The view of Lhotse and sunrise is incredible from this point.

After South Summit, the trail follows the knife-edge southeast ridge, which is known as “Cornice traverse,” where snow clings to intermittent rock. It is one of the most technical climbs. 

At the end of Cornice traverse, climbers arrive at Hillary Step, an imposing 12-meter rock wall at 8,790 meters. However, the route is fixed and wide enough that climbers rarely have issues. 

From the Hillary step, the last push to the summit is a moderate now slope and takes around an hour to reach. Finally reaching the top of the Everest, climbers spend less than half an hour at the summit, allowing themselves time to descend Camp IV before darkness sets in.

The altitude of 8,848 meters above sea level is the highest height in the Earth and scaling up, towards the summit takes a lot of perseverance. It is also said that Everest is hardest because it is the highest. From Everest Base Camp, the walk to other camps is of hours, but it is the preparation that takes weeks before moving towards the next stop. 

The number of days of climbing Everest might differ depending on experience and skill; however, it usually takes around two months.

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