Which Side of Everest is Most Dangerous?

the classic view everest
Alan Arnette has written another interesting and insightful piece on everyone’s favorite Himalayan peak, Everest. The story is entitled The Deadly Side of Everest and it takes a statistical look at which side of the mountain is the most dangerous to climb.

When breaking down the numbers, over the past few years, it quickly becomes clear that the North Side of Everest suffers more fatalities, clocking in with a rate of about two-to-one over the South Side. Alan also notes that if you factor out nine Sherpa deaths on the Nepali side of the mountain, that rate actually ski rockets up to an astounding eight-to-one ratio. He then goes on to explain some of the reasons why this may be the case, listing more exposure to the cold, harsher winds, and the challenge of conquering the “Steps” high on the mountain.

Alan does note that deaths have been substantially on the decline in recent years thanks to improvements in technology and gear, better forecasting of weather, and substantially improved rescue resources on both sides of the mountain. Great trends that are likely to continue, even as the number of people heading to Everest increases each year.

More interesting stuff to ponder as the 2010 Everest season begins to loom on the horizon.

Kraig Becker

3 thoughts on “Which Side of Everest is Most Dangerous?”

  1. I'd always heard the North was the more dangerous route.

    … That's why I was so surprised to hear a Sherpa in Nepal tell us that he felt they were equally difficulty, equally dangerous. But in different ways.

    He had summited from the North twice, the South three times.

  2. It's probably a fair assessment to say that they are both equally challenging and dangerous. The North does have more exposure, and the Steps up high, but on the South Side you have to deal with the Khumbu Icefall, which I've always been told is the most deadly part of the mountain.

    No matter which side you go up, you have to respect the mountain itself.

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