Mount Everest: Seriously Dangerous


By: Nathan Chandler

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Mount Everest is more than a mountain. It's an inspirational icon to climbers and nature lovers from around the world. Its steep slopes, though, are a siren call that baits many adventurers to early graves. How much do you know about its deadly peaks?

Mount Everest is more than 29,000 feet tall. What does that mean in more useful terms?

From sea level to sky, Everest is the world's tallest mountain. At more than 5.5 miles high, its peak is higher than the flight paths of some airliners.


Everest was first summited in 1953. How many people have climbed the mountain?

Since Edmund Hillary first reached Everest's summit in 1953, about 4,000 people have conquered the mountain's slopes. It is no longer an indomitable challenge, but it is still plenty hazardous.


These days, about how many people try to climb the mountain each year?

Each year, about 800 people throw in their hats (and lives) and give Everest a shot. Many of them will fail. And some of them will die.


Of the people who perish on Everest, how do most of them die?

Unstable ice and snow results in avalanches, which cause most climber deaths. Falls are the second-leading cause of death.


In April 2014, an avalanche resulted in the single deadliest day ever on the mountain. How many people died?

A total of 16 climbers were killed that fateful day. The climbers were still 10,000 feet below the summit when they died.


Of the 16 people who died that day, how many of them were foreigners?

Foreign climbers make up the bulk of summit attempts, but this day it was the local Sherpas who died. They were ferrying equipment up the mountain for other climbers when the avalanche struck.


Most climber deaths occur at which altitude?

The most dangerous part of the journey is between 18,000 and 21,000 feet. There, the ice and snow are notoriously treacherous.


How many people (so far) have died climbing Everest?

Just under 300 people have died on Everest. Many of their bodies are strewn across the mountain as grim reminders of the dangers involved.


Why are climbers' bodies often simply left on the mountainside?

The incredible altitude and steepness sometimes make it impossible to retrieve the bodies. Today's climbers often march right past bodies that have been frozen in the snow for years.


There are people who actually live on Mount Everest.

No one lives on Mount Everest. It's too cold. It's too windy. It's too extreme and too remote for human life.


The air is thin on Everest. At the mountain's summit, how much oxygen is there compared to sea level?

At Everest's peak, there's just one-third (about 30 percent) of the oxygen that you'd have at sea level. It's why most climbers need supplemental oxygen to complete the adventure.


About how much does it cost to climb Mount Everest?

Everest is an expensive funeral. Between permits and Sherpa labor and guide fees, many climbers blow at least $45,000. Many of them will fail.


How long does it take average climbers to ascend Everest?

Everest is so tall that climbers must slowly ascend or risk their health. Most climbers need more than two months to complete the feat.


In April 2015, what disaster struck near Everest?

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the area and resulting avalanches killed 19 people at base more than 8,500 people in nearby villages.


What caused the infamous 1996 Everest disaster, which killed eight people?

In May of that year, an incredible blizzard struck as climbers were ascending. A bottleneck caused by too many climbers contributed to the climbers being stranded on the slopes.


What is "mountain sickness"?

Mountain sickness is another term for altitude sickness, which is mostly caused by lack of oxygen. It causes nausea, confusion and contributes to many climber deaths.


Everest's base camp resides at about 17,500 feet. How much oxygen is there at that altitude?

Even at "just" 17,500 feet, the air is very thin -- with only half of the oxygen found at sea level. It's no wonder so many people die on this mountain.


Altitude sickness can also lead to what other rather unpleasant condition?

The extreme altitude can cause fluid to build up in the lungs or even in the brain. Both conditions can and do kill climbers.


What's the fatality rate for climbers?

Given the hundreds of people who try the mountain each year, not many die -- around 1.6 percent. But each climbing season several people will definitely be killed by Everest's extremes.


Where do most falls occur on the mountain?

Most falls occur at Everest's highest points. The air is thinner, the climbing is harder and the climbers themselves are weary.


What nationality were the climbers who first died on Everest?

In 1922, the British made one of several attempts on the summit. Seven Sherpas died...but no British men perished.


About how many corpses are there on the mountain?

Of the roughly 300 people who've died on Everest, most of them never made it home. About 200 bodies are permanently frozen to the slopes.


The Khumbu Icefall is one of the most dangerous parts of the mountain. It is what kind of structure?

The Icefall is part of a massive glacier that moves with alarming alacrity. Sometimes, huge gaps will suddenly swallow climbers whole.


When do most climbers attempt to climb the Khumbu Icefall?

Most climbers attempt the Icefall in the morning when temperatures are still cold and the ice is mostly -- mostly -- solid. Even then, it's a perilous ordeal.


The Icefall is full of wide, steep crevasses. How do climbers pass these?

Brave Sherpas ascend and affix long ladders across the gaping maws of the crevasses. These ladders make the ascent much easier for people who are paying for the privilege of climbing.


In 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine were trying to become the first men to ascend the mountain. What happened to them?

The men disappeared and for decades no one knew what became of them. Finally, in 1999, Mallory's body was found at about 27,000 feet, well below the summit.


When did scientists first discover that Everest was the world's tallest mountain?

It was around 1860, just before the start of the American Civil War, that humans finally realized where Earth's tallest peak rested. It was nearly a century before they climbed it.


How did Everest get its name?

It was named after a Welsh surveyor named Sir George Everest. He was one of the men who first surveyed many of the mountains in the area.


Few plants can survive on Everest. Which type of plant life makes it higher on the slopes than any other?

At just below 22,000 feet, there's one type of moss that somehow manages to survive Everest's hostile domain. It's possible that they are the highest type of plant life in the world.


In 1970, a huge expedition assaulted the mountain. Eight people died. Which country led the expedition?

The ill-fated 1970 expedition was from Japan. More than 100 people worked on the effort but they didn't make it to the summit. Many people tempt fate by attacking Everest -- and many of them go home empty-handed.


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