Scaling Everest: How Long Does It Take?

Mount Everest is earth’s highest peak at an elevation of 29,029 feet. Scaling the mountain is no easy feat, as it poses a great challenge to even experienced climbers. The process requires months of preparation, training, and equipment. In this article, we will assess how long it takes to scale this great mountain.

Preparation Phase

The preparation phase is crucial in preparing one mentally and physically for the summit. This phase lasts for an average of 60-70 days. It involves:

  • Obtaining necessary permits
  • Acclimatization to the altitude through hikes to lower altitudes
  • Training routine that lasts between eight to twelve weeks, which mostly involves cardiovascular, high-intensity interval training, and strength training
  • Assembling gear and equipment, the machetes, and ropes for rock-climbing and icefalls

Approach to Everest Base Camp

The base camp is located at the foot of the mountain at an altitude of 17,600 feet. The approach takes an average of eight to ten days, and it involves the following:

  • Traversing the Khumbu icefall, which necessitates ladders to be placed to traverse over open crevasses in the ice
  • Climbing past the Khumbu glacier foot, through Sherpa villages, and up the surrounding ridges
  • Reaching the base camp, which is a barren landscape of rocks and ice

Acclimatization to Elevation

It is necessary to acclimatize to the high altitude to avoid altitude sickness, which may incapacitate a person. In the base camp, climbers spend an average of two to three weeks to acclimatize.

During this time, the climbers trek to lower altitudes to immerse their bodies in more oxygen-rich air. One significant climb is the Khumbu Icefall. Most climbers take this route to reach Camp One. Often, climbers take up to four rotations acclimatizing before making a summit bid.

Climbing through the Camps

The climb begins after successful acclimatization. Here are the camps that mountaineers will pass through:

Camp One

Located at an altitude of 19,390 feet, Camp One is the first stop after the base camp. The average time it takes to reach Camp One is 4-6 hours. The trek involves scrambling, walking through the icefall, and passes through huge crevasses.

It is important to point out that this involves climbing 1,800 vertical feet, which is twice the height of the Empire State Building. Upon arrival, climbers erect tents and rest for an average of 24 hours to rest and acclimatize.

Camp Two

Camp Two is located at an altitude of 21,000 feet. It takes about 5-7 hours to reach. The climb involves crossing the Western Cwm, which is characterized by scorching heat and sun rays that reflect on the snow.

Upon arrival, climbers rest for an average of 24 hours since it is in the ‘death zone,’ where the human body tends to shut down due to lack of oxygen. At this point, the climbers are halfway through their expedition, with their past of their gear, food, and oxygen already used up.

Camp Three

Camp Three is located at an altitude of 23,000 feet. Mountaineers will take approximately 6-8 hours to get here, and the climb involves going through the Lhotse face, which is a steep ice slope.

Camp Three is infamously known as Mushroom port camp. It is infamous because of rockfalls that regularly occur in the area. At this stage, climbers can only stay for a few hours as the altitude significantly drops breath taken in.

Camp Four

Located at an altitude of 26,000 feet, Camp Four is the final resting point before summiting Everest. The climb to Camp Four takes about 8-10 hours, and it is the most mentally and physically challenging part of the climb.

This stage involves traversing the ‘death zone,’ an altitude where the human body ceases to function due to lack of oxygen. At this stage, climbers need a lot of oxygen and rest to prevent their lungs or brains from swelling.

Summit Push and Descent

The summit push takes place from Camp Four. Here, climbers will attempt to climb the remaining 3,000 feet to reach the summit. This stage takes 8-12 hours, depending on the climber’s fitness and the weather.

Upon reaching the summit, the climbers take an average of 20-30 minutes to capture their moment at the top of the world. They then descend through the camps, with the entire descent taking an average of 3-5 days.

Conclusion

Scaling Everest is no easy feat, as seen above. The expedition requires immense preparation, patience, skill, and, at times, some luck. The climb to the top of the world is a physically and mentally demanding undertaking that requires a great deal of dedication, professionalism, and the right equipment.

FAQ:

  • Question: What is the average time to scale Everest?
    Answer: The average time taken to climb Mount Everest is between 60-70 days, including preparation and acclimatization periods.
  • Question: How long does it take to reach the base camp?
    Answer: The approach to Everest’s base camp takes between eight to ten days, passing through the Khumbu icefall and Sherpa villages.
  • Question: At what altitude is camp four located?
    Answer: Camp Four is located at an altitude of 26,000 feet.
  • Question: Is acclimatization necessary for climbing Everest?
    Answer: Yes, acclimatization is necessary. Climbers spend about two to three weeks in the base camp acclimatizing than making several rotations before making a summit bid.

References:

  1. Lonely Planet. (n.d). Climbing Mount Everest. April 22, 2022, from https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/how-to-climb-mount-everest
  2. National Geographic Society. (2022). How to climb Everest. April 22, 2022, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/article/how-to-climb-everest
  3. USA Today. (2022). Climbing Mount Everest: What it takes to get to the top. April 22, 2022, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/experience/adventure/2018/04/17/climbing-mount-everest-what-takes-get-top/524857002/

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