General, Research, Technology

Conquer Everest: how to get to the highest point of the planet?

In 1922, as a result of an avalanche that descended intoIn the region of the North Col - the pass connecting Everest and Changse in Tibet - seven porters of the British expedition of Charles Bruce were killed. Her goal was the first ever ascent to the summit of Chomolungma - the highest place on the planet (8848.86 m). In search of an easier way, the group explored the eastern and northern surroundings of the peak, but the expedition failed to achieve the goal. The first two attempts ended in failure, and the third - in tragedy: seven porters died under an avalanche, the descent of which was caused by their own passage. This is the first documented case of the death of people while trying to climb Chomolungma, but, alas, not the last. On the night of May 10-11, 1996, four members of the Adventure Consultants commercial expedition, as well as three climbers from the Indian National Expedition, died while climbing Mount Everest. The reason was a hurricane that broke out: in two days, nine climbers from four teams were gone. These events subsequently formed the basis for two feature films, as well as several documentaries. We figure out who, how and why conquered Everest.

Climbing Everest is carried out in spring and autumn; during the rest of the year, monsoons are raging here, in winter the temperature drops to -50 ° C, the strongest winds blow.

Highest point on earth

Mount Everest is Sagarmatha in Nepali, andin Tibetan — as Chomolungma — crosses the border between Nepal and Tibet at the top of the Himalayan mountain range. Although reaching the top of the world is difficult and potentially deadly due to extreme heights, avalanches, icefalls and other hazards, the mountain is quite close to the equator, at a latitude of about 28 degrees.

Researchers estimate that the age of Everestis from 50 to 60 million years, which is very short by geological standards. The mountain was formed by an upward force created by the collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which lifted the cliffs that formed the highest mountain on Earth. According to National Geographic, this force is still at work today, lifting the summit of Mount Everest about a quarter of an inch higher each year.

The highest peak of the Earth. The mountain is part of the Himalayan mountain system and lies on the border between China (northern slope) and Nepal (southern slope).

Ever since Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpa TenzingThe Norgay became the first people to climb Mount Everest in 1953, and adventurers from all over the world decided to follow suit. In the years since then, climbing the highest point in the world has changed a lot. Today, hundreds of climbers accomplish this feat every year, thanks to advances in knowledge, technology and infrastructure that enable real-world climbing ascents.

Read even more fascinating articles about how man conquered the Earth and the solar system on our channel in Yandex.Zen. There are regularly published articles that are not on the site.

How to climb to the top of the world?

So, the journey to the top (let's analyze morethe popular South Saddle route) begins at Base Camp, located 3540 m below the summit on the Nepalese side of the mountain. The South Base Camp is located at an altitude of 5400 m above sea level at the foot of the Khumbu Glacier. Here the oxygen level is only 52% of the sea level. During the climbing season, the area turns into an expansive tent camp, where climbers acclimate to the thin air and wait for the weather windows to open.

After leaving the Base Camp, the climbers and theirguides climb the glacier through an area called the Khumbu Icefall, one of the most treacherous stretches of the lower slopes of Mount Everest. The further 2.6-kilometer trek can take from three to eight hours, depending on the conditions and state of the climber's acclimatization.

Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay at the summit of Everest, 1953.

Also known as the Valley of Silence, Camp 1located at an altitude of 6000 m, where the oxygen level drops below 50%. Among other things, the great danger on the approach is the presence of many crevices. Climbers must use ladders and fixed ropes to make their way through the vast snowfield. Conditions here are difficult - the snow-covered terrain around the camp increases solar radiation, and daytime temperatures can reach 35 degrees Celsius.

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Camp number 2 is located even higher, at the foot of the cliffLhotse - an imposing wall of glacial ice a kilometer high, at an altitude of 6400 meters. This is usually the last place climbers can get hot, cooked food. The area is littered with equipment abandoned by earlier expeditions, lightening their load before returning to Base Camp.

A line of climbers at a place called the "Death Zone".

The third camp is located at the top of the Lhotse slopeat an elevation of 7200 m, so that flat surfaces are at a high level. Further travel along the 2.6 km route upward and through the Lhotse ice wall can take from four to eight hours. At this altitude, the oxygen level in the atmosphere drops to about 40% of sea level, and for many, this is the last chance to breathe unaided.

Camp 4 is the final stop on the way tothe summit and is located just a few meters from the 8000 meter mark. While here, climbers must conserve energy and wait for suitable weather conditions to make the final ascent to the summit. At more than 8,000 meters, the air is so thin and the weather is so fickle that climbers have a very limited survival time. This place is called Death Zone.

Half of the deaths (51 percent) occur whendescending from the summit, when climbers are more prone to falls, loss of concentration and making mistakes. Since 1953, 291 people have died on Everest.

Get to the top at any cost

I will note that today the overwhelming majorityEverest climbers use oxygen tanks to reduce exposure to extreme altitudes. However, bottled oxygen has its drawbacks and risks: it is expensive and difficult to carry with you, and empty cylinders are often thrown away as trash. But in the end, who is it stopping?

A still from the feature film "Everest" dedicated to the 1996 catastrophe.

So, 25 years ago, on the "roof of the planet", duringtwo days killed five climbers on the South side of the mountain and three more on the North side. The disaster was dubbed "The Great Tragedy" and although it is not the bloodiest in the history of the mountain, it is by far the most famous disaster to date, thanks in large part to the bestselling book by American journalist and climber John Krakauer.

See also: Everest was higher than it was thought. What is the height of the highest mountain?

Needless to say, since then, interest inEverest took off. In the 2015 film of the same name, Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emily Watson and other Hollywood actors. Thus, the demand for penetration to the coveted peak accelerated, and with it the commercialization of the mountain: if in 1996 Western agencies, such as Mountain Madness or Adventure Consultants, comprehensively managed their client portfolio, now it was Nepalese agencies that took over the business and lead him, to be honest, quite successfully.