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TOP 3 causes of death on Everest. Why and when people die on Everest


306 people died on Everest. From the first ascent attempts up to and including 2019. And every year that number grows. Why go to Everest? We’ll leave that question to the climbers. And now let’s try to understand why people die on Everest: the main reasons and places of death

I, Taras Pozdnii, in 2018 successfully climbed Everest and came down alive and actually healthy, not counting minor frostbite on my fingers and toes. And today we continue our “Myths and Facts about the Mountains” series by tackling such a popular question as the causes of death on Everest. From what more deaths on the slopes of this mountain: from avalanches, rockfalls, mountain sickness and exhaustion, or maybe it’s all the formidable Khumbu Icefall? We will also look at the places and periods of expeditions – we will find out how many die in the base camp, during acclimatization and storming, on the descent after the summit.

Previously we have already considered the topic of the number of dead climbers on Everest. Read a separate article “Death rate on Everest – detailed statistics for 2019“.

For the preparation of this article, the data was taken from the Himalayan Database website.

If you do not have time to read the article, you can watch a short 15-minute video on “Top 3 causes of death on Everest”, which also tried to reveal places of death, why and when climbers die on Everest.

What were the causes of the deaths on Everest

The list of causes is standard, both for Everest and the other eight-thousanders. These are mountain sickness, exhaustion, frostbite, falls, avalanches, rockfalls, and cracks.

A total of 306 people died on Everest from the first ascent attempt in the 1920s to the spring 2019 season. The top 3 causes of death on Everest are avalanches (mostly “thanks” to tragedies in 2014 and 2015); falls and collapses, which most often occur during descents when the body is exhausted and concentration is reduced; and mountain sickness with brain or lung edema. Let’s take a closer look at all the causes and their ratio to the total number of deaths.

Causes of mortality on Everest

Прохождение трещины

Where they die on Everest

An equally interesting statistic for Everest is the places of death and periods of expedition.

Climbers have a simple rule. Climbing to the summit is only half the journey, and congratulations on a successful ascent can only be given when you return to base camp. And it’s true. If we take away the atypical 2014 and 2015 (when more than 30 people died because of avalanches), most deaths occur exactly on the way down, after reaching the summit. Why is this the case?

Actually, the reason is very simple. On the way to the summit the mountaineer has a big goal for which he spent a lot of money and time, spent 1,5-2 months in the mountains, wandering between camps and acclimatizing. And so, when up to the summit remains literally a couple of hours, many go over the edge of their capabilities, spend the last forces to achieve the goal. Then they lack strength and concentration for safe descent, and often time, which results in breakdowns, exhaustion, freezing.

Восхождение на Эверест

In which places people die on Everest

  1. On the trek to the base camp – 6 people. Most of all, this happened back in the early twentieth century, when the first ascents were attempted. Now the trek to Everest Base Camp is one of the most popular in Nepal, with the necessary services and facilities, and is absolutely safe for all trekkers.
  2. 34 people – in the base camp. Most of the deaths occurred in 2015, when an avalanche hit the base camp during the earthquake and killed about 20 people. Also the climbers die after the summit or after acclimatization, when they come down to the base camp in very exhausted or heavy condition.
  3. 120 persons – on the route. From the arrival to the base camp to the moment of ascent takes about a month. All this time mountaineers spend, moving between camps, constantly gaining and losing altitude for acclimatization.
  4. At the assault hike – 25 people. The final storm of the summit that starts at midnight from Camp 4 (7900 m) up to the summit of Everest (8848 m) takes about 10-20 hours.
  5. On the descent after the summit – 109 people. The death toll is a little less than on the route. But taking into account that acclimatization lasts 1-1.5 months and the Descent lasts only 1-2 days it is clear that the biggest concentration of deaths is during the descent. That is why I would like to remind you once again that you should not overestimate your abilities and reach the summit at any cost. It is better to turn back in time, go down and in a year or two come back to Everest again. It will stand for more than one thousand years. And life and health are much more important than all peaks and ambitions.
  6. Evacuation the camps – 12 people. In this case Sherpas die most often, as they take part in evacuations after emergencies, gathering and lowering equipment after successful expeditions’ ascents.

Everything depends on your preparation and knowledge. If you do not have enough climbing experience, then it is better to trust the reliable Kuluar teamleaders, under their guidance to go to the cherished summit and return home alive and healthy. You can choose your route on the hike selection page.

Kuluar – your life-changing mountain experience!


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