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Climbing Routes on Mount Everest

Mount Everest is located in the magnificent Himalaya mountain range. It borders two countries. Its south flank is located in Nepal while north flank is located in Tibet. Due to the special location, there are two main climbing routes on Mount Everest. One is from the southeast ridge in Nepal and the other is from the north ridge in Tibet. The southeast Climbing Routes on Mount Everest route in Nepal was the one used by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, who were the first people to get to the top of Mount Everest in 1953 while the Chinese border was not opened to the western world.

Which Everest route is the easiest? They are both extremely difficult, each in its own unique way. But the south route is believed to be technically easier to ascend and the North side is much harder to climb because of the time spent at high altitude, the weather and the distance travelled to reach the summit.

North Route of Everest

North Route of Everest

The north ridge climbing route starts from Mount Everest's north side in Tibet. 

There is no icefall on the North side. North side climbers need to deal with the rigors of high altitude much longer than on the South side. There is also no helicopter evacuation anywhere on the mountain on the North side. If a climber gets into trouble, he/she needs to get down to Chinese Base Camp for evacuation by vehicle to the nearest hospital. Also, the weather tends to be worse on the North side, most especially the winds, which can reach hurricane force.

There are six camps on the route. The camp I is on a gravel plain below the Rongbuk Glacier with an altitude of 5,180 m (16,990 ft). Climbers keep going from camp I, ascending the east Rongbuk Glacier’s medial moraine to the Camp II at the base of Changtse with a height about 6,500 m (21,300 ft). Camp III, or Camp ABC (Advanced Base Camp) is located at 6,500 m (21,300 ft) under the North Col. From Camp ABC to Camp IV which on the North Col, climbers should ascend the glacier with fixed ropes using for reach the North Col. The altitude of North Col is 7,010 m (23,000 ft). And then, from the North Col to Camp V, climbers should ascend the north ridge which is rocky and with a height about 7,775 m (25,500 ft). The north ridge route crosses the north face of the Mount Everest in a diagonal climbing route to the Camp VI at the base of the Yellow Band at 8,230 m (27,000 ft).
From the Camp VI on the Yellow Band, climbers will face their final summit push. The First Step: climbing from the height of 8,501m (27,890 ft) to 8,534 m (28,000 ft) which is a very treacherous traverse from the base Camp IV. The second Step: climbing from the height of 8,577 meters (28,140 ft) to 8,626 m (28,300 ft) which including ascend through the semi-permanently climbing aid “Chinese ladder”, a metal ladder placed by a party of Chinese climbers in 1975. The Third Step: climbing from the height of 8,690 m (28,510 ft) to 8,800 m (28,870 ft). When you conquer the above steps, you will see the summit pyramid which is snow caped with a slope of 50 degree. Along the slope, you will get to the top.

South Route of Everest

South Route of Everest

The main climbing routes on the South and North sides of Mt. Everest are quite different. The southeast ridge route starts from the Base camp located on the south side of Everest at 5,380 m (17,700 ft) in Nepal. 

A climb through the south route to the summit is more direct and steep than that of on the North side. This makes the climbing somewhat more difficult, but it also means that a climber in trouble can get down to safety much quicker on the South side. Also, helicopter evacuations are possible from Base Camp and Camp 1 above the Khumbu Icefall, which is not the case on the North side.

It will take climbers a couple of weeks in the Base camp to get use to the altitude. Camp I is at the altitude of 6,065 m (19,900 ft). The camp II, or the Camp ABC is set at the height of 6,500 m (21,300 ft). To reach Camp III at 7,470 m (24,500 ft) on a small ledge, climbers should climb up the fixed rope on the Lhotse face. And then, there is another 500 m to Camp IV at 7,920 m (26,000 ft) on the South Col.  From the Camp IV, climbers will face their final summit push. Climbers will reach the “Balcony” first at the altitude of 8,400 m (27,600 ft). Keep climbing up the ridge, climbers will see a small dome of ice and snow marks the South Summit. This section will start around midnight and will takes about 10-12 hours with a distance of 1,000m to the summit.


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