The mountains of the Himalayas have some of the highest peaks found anywhere in the world. One of these mountains is Mount Everest which is the highest mountain in the world rising to 29,029 feet above sea level. However, Everest is also one of the most dangerous mountains for mountaineers with hundreds of deaths being recorded in the past few decades. The earliest documented mountaineering expedition to be conducted on mount Everest took place in 1921 by the British expedition team. The first recorded fatalities occurred only one year later on June, 1922 when seven Nepalese mountaineers were killed by an avalanche below North Col.
Dangers Encountered On Mount Everest
To reach the highest peak on Earth, mountain climbers face numerous risks, many of which are potentially fatal. According to official statistics, the most common cause of death on Mount Everest is avalanches. An avalanche is the sudden descent of huge volumes of ice and other debris down a mountain slope. Another leading cause of fatalities on the mountain is accidental falling while ascending or descending the mountain. The other cause of several fatalities is exposure which is attributed to the extremely low temperatures combined with reduced oxygen levels and low atmospheric pressure found on the mountain. Exposure is linked to altitude sickness, a relatively mild condition which can morph into the potentially fatal High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). Mount Everest has a zone named the “death zone” found in areas above 26,000 feet and is infamous for its high exposure-fatality rate. Experienced mountaineers always have specialized gear to counter the effects of high altitudes. Crevasses also present another hazard to mountaineers. Crevasses are deep slits occurring on glaciers and are usually covered by a thin layer of ice.
Deadly Incidents On Mount Everest
The number of people who have died while mountaineering on Mount Everest is unknown. However, the officially recorded number of fatalities is over 270 people. The leading cause of mortality is avalanches with falling coming second. The mountain has experienced tragedies which have cost dozens of lives including the 2015 Mount Everest Avalanches which killed not at least 18 people. The tragic incident was caused by an earthquake which hit the region (Everest was about 140 miles from the epicenter) causing deadly avalanches on the mountain. Some records put the number of the dead at 22. The previous year also saw another deadly incident which was attributed to the failing of seracs and resulting to a huge ice avalanche sweeping down the western spur of the mountain. The avalanche is known as the 2014 Mount Everest Avalanche and left 16 people dead in its wake. In 1996, eight people died of exposure after they were caught in a blizzard making the incident the third deadliest to happen on the mountain.
Statistics On Mortality On Mount Everest
The oldest person to die while mountaineering on Everest was Min Bahadur Sherchan who died on May 5th, 2017, aged 82 years while the youngest was 19-year-old Pemba Sherpa who died on April, 2015. Nepal has the highest number of citizens dying while mountaineering on Everest. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of fatalities occur during descent.