what kills most people climbing mount everest

The Thin Air

When climbing Mount Everest, one of the biggest dangers is the thin air. At the extreme altitudes of the world’s highest peak, the air contains much less oxygen than at sea level. This can lead to a condition known as hypoxia, where the body’s cells are deprived of the oxygen they need to function properly. Without enough oxygen, climbers can experience difficulty breathing, headaches, nausea, and confusion. In severe cases, hypoxia can be deadly.

How to Mitigate the Risk

To reduce the risk of hypoxia, climbers can use supplemental oxygen to maintain adequate oxygen levels in their bodies. Additionally, climbers can acclimatize to the high altitude by spending time at lower camps to allow their bodies to adjust to the thin air. This gradual process can help prevent the onset of hypoxia.

Extreme Weather

Another peril that poses a threat to climbers on Mount Everest is the extreme weather conditions. The mountain is notorious for its unpredictable and harsh weather, including fierce winds, blizzards, and sub-zero temperatures. These conditions can make it extremely difficult for climbers to navigate the mountain and can increase the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, and snow blindness.

Overcoming the Elements

To combat the unforgiving weather, climbers must be prepared with appropriate gear, such as insulated clothing, goggles, and shelter. They must also be vigilant in monitoring weather forecasts and be ready to adapt their plans in response to changing conditions.

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Avalanches and Rockfalls

Mount Everest is also known for its treacherous terrain, which includes the danger of avalanches and rockfalls. These natural hazards can occur at any time, posing a significant risk to climbers who are navigating the mountain’s slopes and crevasses.

Staying Safe

To minimize the risk of being caught in an avalanche or rockfall, climbers can take precautions such as avoiding high-risk areas, traveling during periods of low avalanche danger, and wearing protective helmets.

Exhaustion and Dehydration

The physical demands of climbing Mount Everest are immense, and many climbers succumb to exhaustion and dehydration. The combination of strenuous physical exertion, limited access to clean water, and the body’s increased need for hydration at high altitude can lead to severe dehydration, which can have life-threatening consequences.

Mitigating Physical Strain

To prevent exhaustion and dehydration, climbers must carefully manage their energy expenditure, stay well-hydrated, and maintain a proper nutrition intake to support their bodies during the physically demanding ascent.


Mount Everest is both a breathtaking and perilous place, where even the most experienced climbers can be pushed to their limits. The combination of thin air, extreme weather, natural hazards, and physical challenges makes it essential for climbers to be well-prepared and attentive to the risks they face. By understanding the dangers and taking proactive measures to mitigate them, climbers can increase their chances of a safe and successful journey to the top of the world.


Q: How many climbers have died on Mount Everest?

A: This number is difficult to pin down precisely, but it is estimated that over 300 climbers have died attempting to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Q: What is the best time of year to climb Mount Everest?

A: The optimal window for climbing Mount Everest is typically in the spring months of April and May, when the weather is more stable and the conditions are relatively favorable.

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Q: What is the “death zone” on Mount Everest?

A: The “death zone” refers to elevations above 26,000 feet, where the thin air and lack of oxygen make it extremely difficult for the human body to survive for an extended period. It is the most dangerous part of the mountain for climbers.

Q: How long does it take to climb Mount Everest?

A: The duration of a climb varies depending on the route and the weather conditions, but the average time to ascend Mount Everest is around 8 weeks, including time for acclimatization and resting periods.

Q: What is the success rate for climbing Mount Everest?

A: The success rate for reaching the summit of Mount Everest varies each year, but on average, it hovers around 60-65%. Many factors contribute to a successful climb, including the climber’s experience, physical condition, and environmental conditions.