Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Myth Of Kangchenjunga

Footprints Of Yeti

The area around Kangchenjunga is said to be home to the "Kangchenjunga Demon", a type of yeti or rakshasa. A British geological expedition in 1925 spotted a bipedal creature which they asked the locals about, who referred to it as the "Kangchenjunga Demon".

The Yeti or Abominable Snowman is an ape-like cryptid said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, India and Tibet. The names Yeti and Meh-Teh are commonly used by the people indigenous to the region, and are part of their history and mythology. Stories of the Yeti first emerged as a facet of Western popular culture in the 19th century. The scientific community generally regards the Yeti as a legend, given the lack of conclusive evidence, yet it remains one of the most famous creatures of cryptozoology. The Yeti may be considered a sort of parallel to the Bigfoot of North America.

The appellation "Abominable Snowman" was coined in 1921, the same year Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury led the joint Alpine Club and Royal Geographical Society "Everest Reconnaissance Expedition" which he chronicled in Mount Everest The Reconnaissance, 1921. In the book, Howard-Bury includes an account of crossing the "Lhakpa-la" at 21,000 ft (6,400 m) where he found footprints that he believed "were probably caused by a large 'loping' grey wolf, which in the soft snow formed double tracks rather like a those of a bare-footed man". He adds that his Sherpa guides "at once volunteered that the tracks must be that of 'The Wild Man of the Snows', to which they gave the name 'metoh-kangmi'". "Metoh" translates as "man-bear" and "Kang-mi" translates as "snowman".

Purported Yeti scalp at Khumjung monastery

Confusion exists between Howard-Bury's recitation of the term "metoh-kangmi" and the term used in Bill Tilman's book Mount Everest, 1938 where Tilman had used the words "metch", which cannot exist in the Tibetan language, and "kangmi" when relating the coining of the term "Abominable Snowman". Further evidence of "metch" being a misnomer is provided by Tibetan language authority Professor David Snellgrove from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London (ca. 1956), who dismissed the word "metch" as impossible, because the consonants "t-c-h" cannot be conjoined in the Tibetan language." Documentation suggests that the term "metch-kangmi" is derived from one source (from the year 1921). It has been suggested that "metch" is simply a misspelling of "metoh".

The origin of the term "Abominable Snowman" is rather colourful. It began when Henry Newman, a longtime contributor to The Statesman in Calcutta, using the pen name "Kim", interviewed the porters of the "Everest Reconnaissance expedition" upon their return to Darjeeling. Newman mistranslated the word "metoh" as "filthy", substituting the term "abominable", perhaps out of artistic license. As author Bill Tilman recounts, "[Newman] wrote long after in a letter to The Times: The whole story seemed such a joyous creation I sent it to one or two newspapers'"

This is expected Yeti footprints

Climbing history Of Kangchenjunga

Kangchenjunga map by Jacot-Guillarmod, 1914
Early reconnaissance and attempts

  • In 1848/49, Joseph Dalton Hooker explored parts of the eastern Nepal previously completely unknown to Europeans. He made repeated tours of the river valleys into the foothills leading up to Kangchenjunga, reaching within 22 km (14 mi) of the peak and passes into Tibet.
  • In 1855, Hermann Schlagintweit from Germany was put in charge of the Magnetic Survey of India, exploring the vicinity and painting a panorama of Everest and Kangchenjunga, prior to being turned back by Nepalese soldiers.
  • In 1883, a party of William Woodman Graham, the British pioneer of Himalayan mountaineering, claimed to have circumnavigated the mountain in March 1882. After climbing an 18,000 ft (5,500 m) peak, they were forced to return to Darjeeling after only a week. They returned in July 1883 with two Swiss guides for a purported attempt whilst climbing other peaks in the area and hunting snow leopard.
  • In 1899, British mountaineer Douglas Freshfield set out with his party comprising the Italian photographer Vittorio Sella. They were the first mountaineers to examine the lower and upper ramparts, and the great western face of Kangchenjunga, rising from the Kangchenjunga Glacier.
  • In 1905, a party headed by Aleister Crowley was the first attempt at climbing the mountain. Aleister Crowley had been part of the team attempting the 1902 ascent of K2. The team reached an estimated altitude of 6,500 m (21,300 ft) on the southwest side of the mountain before turning back. The exact height reached is somewhat unclear; Crowley stated that on August 31, "We were certainly over 21,000 ft (6,400 m) and possibly over 22,000 ft (6,700 m)", when the team was forced to retreat to Camp 5 by the risk of avalanche. On September 1, they evidently went further; some members of the team (Reymond, Pache and Salama) "got over the bad patch" that had forced them to return to Camp 5 the day before, and progressed "out of sight and hearing" before returning to Crowley and the men with packs, who could not cross the dangerous section unassisted with their burdens. It is not clear how far Reymond, Pache and Salama had ascended - but in summarizing, Crowley ventured "We had reached a height of approximately 25,000 ft (7,600 m)." Attempting a "mutinous" late-in-the-day descent from Camp 5 to Camp 4, climber Alexis Pache (who earlier that day had been one of three to ascend possibly higher than any before), and three local porters, were killed in an avalanche. Despite the insistence of one of the men that "The demon of Kangchenjunga was propitiated with the sacrifice", Crowley decided enough was enough and that it was inappropriate to continue.
  • In 1929, a German expedition led by Paul Bauer reached 7,400 m (24,280 ft) on the northeast spur before being turned back by a five-day storm.
  • In 1930, an international expedition led by George Dyhrenfurth, German Uli Wieland, Austrian Erwin Schneider and Englishman Frank Smythe (who published "The Kangchenjunga Adventure" in the same year). The attempt failed due to poor weather and snow conditions.
  • In 1931, a second German expedition, led again by Paul Bauer, attempted the northeast spur before being turned back by bad weather, illnesses, and deaths. The expedition retreated after climbing only a little higher than the 1929 attempt.
  • In 1954, a reconnaissance of Kangchenjunga's southwest side was made by John Kempe (leader), J.W. Tucker, Ron Jackson, Trevor H. Braham, G.C. Lewis, and Dr. D.S. Mathews. This reconnaissance led to the route used by the successful 1955 expedition.

Kangchenjunga summit from Sikkim c. 1857
First ascent

In 1955, Joe Brown and George Band made the first ascent on May 25, followed by Norman Hardie and Tony Streather on May 26. The full team also included John Clegg (team doctor), Charles Evans (team leader), John Angelo Jackson, Neil Mather, and Tom Mackinnon.

The ascent proved that Aleister Crowley's 1905 route (also investigated by the 1954 reconnaissance) was viable. The route starts on the Yalung Glacier to the southwest of the peak, and climbs the Yalung Face, which is 3,000 metres (10,000 ft) high. The main feature of this face is the "Great Shelf", a large sloping plateau at around 7,500 metres (24,600 ft), covered by a hanging glacier. The route is almost entirely on snow, glacier, and one icefall; the summit ridge itself can involve a small amount of travel on rock. The first ascent expedition made six camps above their base camp, two below the Shelf, two on it, and two above it. They started on April 18, and everyone was back to base camp by May 28.

Other notable ascents
  • 1973 Climbers Yutaka Ageta and Takeo Matsuda of the Japanese expedition summitted Kangchenjunga West (Yalung Kang) by climbing the SW Ridge.
  • 1977 The second ascent of Kangchenjunga, by an Indian Army team led by Colonel Narinder Kumar. They completed the northeast spur, the difficult ridge that defeated the German expeditions in 1929 and 1931.
  • 1978 Polish teams made the first successful ascents of the summits Kangchenjunga South (Wojciech Wróż and Eugeniusz Chrobak, 19 May) and Kangchenjunga Central (Wojciech Brański, Zygmunt Andrzej Heinrich, Kazimierz Olech, 22 May).
  • 1979 The third ascent, on May 15, and the first without oxygen, by Doug Scott, Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker establishing a new route on the North Ridge
  • 1983 Pierre Beghin made the first solo ascent and the first ascent without oxygen.
  • 1986 On January 11, Krzysztof Wielicki and Jerzy Kukuczka, Polish climbers, made the first winter ascent.
  • 1991 Marija Frantar and Joze Rozman attempted the first ascent by a woman but their bodies were later found below the summit headwall.
  • 1991 Andrej Stremfelj and Marko Prezelj completed an alpine-style climb up the south ridge of Kangchenjunga to the south summit (8,494 m).
  • 1992 Carlos Carsolio made the only summit that year. It was in a solo climb without supplementary oxygen.
  • 1992 Wanda Rutkiewicz, the first woman to ascend and descend K2 and a respected Polish climber, died after she declined to descend in the face of an incoming storm.
  • 1995 Benoît Chamoux, Pierre Royer and their Sherpa guide disappeared on October 6 near the summit.
  • 1998 Ginette Harrison became the first woman to reach the summit. Until then Kangchenjunga was the only eight-thousander that had not seen a female ascent.
  • 2005 Alan Hinkes, a British climber, was the only person to summit in the 50th anniversary of first ascent year.
  • 2006 Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, an Austrian mountaineer, was the second woman to reach the summit.
  • 2009 Jon Gangdal and Mattias Karlsson reached the summit, becoming, respectively, the first Norwegian and Swedish mountaineer to summit this mountain.
  • 2009 Edurne Pasaban, a Spanish mountaineer, reached the summit, becoming the first woman to summit 12 eight-thousands.
  • 2009 Kinga Baranowska became the first Polish woman climber to reach the Summit of Kangchenjunga.
  • 2011 Tunc Findik became the first Turkish man to reach the peak of Kangchenjunga, his 7th 14er, with Swiss partner Guntis Brandts via the British 1955 SW Face route.


    Kangchenjunga from Goecha La, 4,940 m

    Geography Of Kangchenjunga

     The five peaks of Kangchenjunga are as follows:

    Kangchenjunga Main

    Name of peak Height (m) Height (ft)
    Kangchenjunga Main 8,586 28,169
    Kangchenjunga West (Yalung Kang) 8,505 27,904
    Kangchenjunga Central (Middle) 8,482 27,828
    Kangchenjunga South 8,494 27,867.
    Kangbachen 7,903 25,925



    The huge massif of Kangchenjunga is buttressed by great ridges running roughly due east to west and north to south, forming a giant 'X'. These ridges contain a host of peaks between 6,000 and 8,000 metres. On the east ridge in Sikkim, is Siniolchu (6,888 m/22,600 ft). The west ridge culminates in the magnificent Jannu (7,710 m/25,294 ft) with its imposing north face. To the south, clearly visible from Darjeeling, are Kabru North (7,338 m/24,075 ft), Kabru South (7,316 m/24,002 ft) and Rathong peaks (6,678 m/21,910 ft). The north ridge, after passing through the minor subpeak Kangchenjunga North (7741 m/25,397 ft), contains The Twins and Tent Peak, and runs up to the Tibetan border by the Jongsong La, a 6,120 m (20,080 ft) pass.

    Kangchenjunga South-West Face From Sinion La

    Kangchenjunga is known for its famous views from the hill station of Darjeeling. On a clear day, it presents an image not as much of a mountain but of a white wall hanging from the sky. The people of Sikkim revere Kangchenjunga as a sacred mountain. Permission to climb the mountain from the Indian side is rare, but sometimes allowed.

    Kangbachen

    Because of its remote location in Nepal and difficult access from India, the Kangchenjunga region is not much explored by trekkers. It has, therefore, retained much of its pristine beauty. In Sikkim too, trekking into the Kangchenjunga region has just been permitted. The Goecha La trek is gaining popularity amongst tourists. It goes to the Goecha La Pass, located right in front of the huge southeast face of Kangchenjunga. Another trek to Green Lake Basin has recently been opened for trekking. This goes to the Northeast side of Kangchenjunga along the famous Zemu Glacier.

    The Kangchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA) covers 2,035 km² surrounding the mountain on the Nepalese side.

    Kangbachen

    Kangchenjunga the third of Eight thousanders Of Himalaya

    Kangchenjunga - Makalu Tracking Map

    Kangchenjunga, in the Himalayan Range, is the third highest mountain in the world after Mount Everest and K2, with an elevation of 8,586 m (28,169 ft). Kangchenjunga means "The Five Treasures of Snows", as it contains five peaks, four of them over 8,450 m (27,720 ft). The treasures represent the five repositories of God, which are gold, silver, gems, grain, and holy books. It is also the name of its section of the Himalaya. including twelve more peaks over 7000 meters and then some 33 over 6000.

    Kangchenjunga is called Sewalungma in the local Limbu language, meaning Mountain that we offer greetings to. Sewalungma is considered sacred in the Kirant religion.

    Three of the five peaks (main, central, and south) are on the border of the Indian North Sikkim and Taplejung District of Nepal, while the other two are completely in Taplejung District. Nepal is home to the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project run by the World Wildlife Fund in cooperation with the Government of Nepal. The sanctuary is home to the red panda and other montane animals, birds and plants. The Khangchendzonga National Park is located in India.

    Kangchenjunga early in the morning, from Chouda Pheri, Sikkim

    Kangchenjunga is the official spelling adopted by Douglas Freshfield, A.M. Kellas, and the Royal Geographical Society that gives the best indication of the Tibetan pronunciation. There are a number of alternative spellings which include Kangchen Dzö-nga, Khangchendzonga, Kanchenjanga, Kachendzonga, Kanchenjunga or Kangchanfanga. The final word on the use of the name Kangchenjunga came from His Highness Sir Tashi Namgyal, the Maharaja or chogyal of Sikkim, who stated that "although junga had no meaning in Tibetan, it really ought to have been Zod-nga (treasure, five) Kang-chen (snow, big) to convey the meaning correctly". Following consultations with a Lieutenant-Colonel J.L.R. Weir (British political agent to Sikkim), he agreed that it was best to leave it as Kangchenjunga, and thus the name remained so by acceptance and usage.

    Kangbachen 2007
    Until 1852, Kangchenjunga was assumed to be the highest mountain in the world, but calculations made by the British Great Trigonometric Survey in 1849 came to the conclusion that Mount Everest (known as Peak XV at the time) was the highest and Kangchenjunga the third-highest. Kangchenjunga was first climbed on May 25, 1955 by Joe Brown and George Band, who were part of a British expedition. The British expedition honoured the beliefs of the Sikkimese, who hold the summit sacred, by stopping a few feet short of the actual summit. Most successful summit parties since then have followed this tradition.

    Climbing routes and difficulties Of K2

    A scale comparison of the Matterhorn and K2 gives an impression of the massive size of K2.

    There are a number of routes on K2, of somewhat different character, but they all share some key difficulties. First, of course, is the extreme high altitude and resulting lack of oxygen: there is only one-third as much oxygen available to a climber on the summit of K2 as there is at sea level. Second is the propensity of the mountain to experience extreme storms of several days' duration, which have resulted in many of the deaths on the peak. Third is the steep, exposed, and committing nature of all routes on the mountain, which makes retreat more difficult, especially during a storm. Despite many attempts there have been no successful winter ascents. All major climbing routes lie on the Pakistani side, which is also where the base camp is located

    Abruzzi Spur

    The standard route of ascent, used far more than any other route, is the Abruzzi Spur, located on the Pakistani side, first attempted by Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi in 1909. This is the southeast ridge of the peak, rising above the Godwin Austen Glacier. The spur proper begins at an altitude of 5,400 metres (17,700 ft), where Advanced Base Camp is usually placed. The route follows an alternating series of rock ribs, snow/ice fields, and some technical rock climbing on two famous features, "House's Chimney" and the "Black Pyramid." Above the Black Pyramid, dangerously exposed and difficult to navigate slopes lead to the easily visible "Shoulder", and thence to the summit. The last major obstacle is a narrow couloir known as the "Bottleneck", which places climbers dangerously close to a wall of seracs which form an ice cliff to the east of the summit. It was partly due to the collapse of one of these seracs around 2001 that no climbers summitted the peak in 2002 and 2003.

    On August 1, 2008, a number of climbers went missing when a serac in the Bottleneck snapped and broke their ropes. Survivors were seen from a helicopter, but rescue efforts were impeded by the high altitude. Eleven were never found, and presumed dead.

    Climbing ladders on Abruzzi Spur
    North Ridge

    Almost opposite from the Abruzzi Spur is the North Ridge, which ascends the Chinese side of the peak. It is rarely climbed, partly due to very difficult access, involving crossing the Shaksgam River, which is a hazardous undertaking. In contrast to the crowds of climbers and trekkers at the Abruzzi basecamp, usually at most two teams are encamped below the North Ridge. This route, more technically difficult than the Abruzzi, ascends a long, steep, primarily rock ridge to high on the mountain — Camp IV, the "Eagle's Nest" at 7,900 metres (25,900 ft) — and then crosses a dangerously slide-prone hanging glacier by a leftward climbing traverse, to reach a snow couloir which accesses the summit.

    Besides the original Japanese ascent, a notable ascent of the North Ridge was the one in 1990 by Greg Child, Greg Mortimer, and Steve Swenson, which was done alpine style above Camp 2, though using some fixed ropes already put in place by a Japanese team.

    The north side of K2. The North Ridge is in the centre of the picture.
    Other routes
    • Northeast Ridge (long and corniced; finishes on uppermost part of Abruzzi route), 1978.
    • West Ridge, 1981.
    • Southwest Pillar or "Magic Line", very technical, and second most demanding. First climbed in 1986 by the Polish-Slovak trio Piasecki-Wróż-Božik. Since then the Catalan Jordi Corominas was the only successful climber on this route, despite many other attempts.
    • South Face or "Polish Line" (extremely exposed and most dangerous). In 1986, Jerzy Kukuczka and Tadeusz Piotrowski summitted on this route. Reinhold Messner called it a suicidal route and no one has repeated their achievement. "The route is so avalanche-prone, that no one else has ever considered a new attempt."
    • Northwest Face, 1990.
    • Northwest Ridge (finishing on North Ridge). First ascent in 1991.
    • South-southeast spur or "Cesen route" (finishing on Abruzzi route — possibly safer alternative to the Abruzzi Spur, because it avoids Black Pyramid, the first big obstacle on Abruzzi), 1994.

    The major routes to have been climbed on the south side of the mountain.
    A:West Ridge
    B:West Face
    C:Southwest Pillar 
     D:South Face
    E:South-southeast Spur 
     F: Abruzzi Spur
    Use of bottled oxygen

    For most of its climbing history, K2 was not usually climbed with bottled oxygen, and small, relatively lightweight teams were the norm. However the 2004 season saw a great increase in the use of oxygen: 28 of 47 summiteers used oxygen in that year.

    Acclimatisation is essential when climbing without oxygen to avoid some degree of altitude sickness.[43] K2's summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) can occur, above the 8000-metre altitude that marks the boundary of the "death zone."

    Climbing history Of K2

    The west face of K2 taken from the Savoia Glacier on the 1909 expedition
    Early attempts

    The mountain was first surveyed by a European survey team in 1856. Thomas Montgomerie was the member of the team who designated it "K2" for being the second peak of the Karakoram range. The other peaks were originally named K1, K3, K4 and K5, but were eventually renamed Masherbrum, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum I respectively. In 1892, Martin Conway led a British expedition that reached "Concordia" on the Baltoro Glacier.


    The first serious attempt to climb K2 was undertaken in 1902 by Oscar Eckenstein and Aleister Crowley, via the Northeast Ridge. In the early 1900s, modern transportation did not exist: It took "fourteen days just to reach the foot of the mountain". After five serious and costly attempts, the team reached 6,525 metres (21,407 ft) — although considering the difficulty of the challenge, and the lack of modern climbing equipment or weatherproof fabrics, Crowley's statement that "neither man nor beast was injured" highlights the pioneering spirit and bravery of the attempt. The failures were also attributed to sickness (Crowley was suffering the residual effects of malaria), a combination of questionable physical training, personality conflicts, and poor weather conditions — of 68 days spent on K2 (at the time, the record for the longest time spent at such an altitude) only eight provided clear weather.

    The next expedition to K2 in 1909, led by Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi, reached an elevation of around 6,250 metres (20,510 ft) on the South East Spur, now known as the Abruzzi Spur (or Abruzzi Ridge). This would eventually become part of the standard route, but was abandoned at the time due to its steepness and difficulty. After trying and failing to find a feasible alternative route on the West Ridge or the North East Ridge, the Duke declared that K2 would never be climbed, and the team switched its attention to Chogolisa, where the Duke came within 150 metres (490 ft) of the summit before being driven back by a storm.
    K2 from the east, photographed during the 1909 expedition

    The next attempt on K2 was not made until 1938, when an American expedition led by Charles Houston made a reconnaissance of the mountain. They concluded that the Abruzzi Spur was the most practical route, and reached a height of around 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) before turning back due to diminishing supplies and the threat of bad weather. The following year an expedition led by Fritz Wiessner came within 200 metres (660 ft) of the summit, but ended in disaster when Dudley Wolfe, Pasang Kikuli, Pasang Kitar and Pintso disappeared high on the mountain.

    Charles Houston returned to K2 to lead the 1953 American expedition. The expedition failed due to a storm that pinned the team down for ten days at 7,800 metres (25,600 ft), during which time Art Gilkey became critically ill. A desperate retreat followed, during which Pete Schoening saved almost the entire team during a mass fall, and Gilkey was killed, either in an avalanche or in a deliberate attempt to avoid burdening his companions. In spite of the failure and tragedy, the courage shown by the team has given the expedition iconic status in mountaineering history.

      
    Success and repeats

    An Italian expedition finally succeeded in ascending to the summit of K2 via the Abruzzi Spur on July 31, 1954. The expedition was led by Ardito Desio, although the two climbers who actually reached the top were Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni. The team included a Pakistani member, Colonel Muhammad Ata-ullah, who had been a part of the 1953 American expedition. Also on the expedition were the famous Italian climber Walter Bonatti and Pakistani Hunza porter Mahdi, who proved vital to the expedition's success in that they carried oxygen to 8,100 metres (26,600 ft) for Lacedelli and Compagnoni. Their dramatic bivouac in the open at that altitude wrote another chapter in the saga of Himalayan climbing.

    On August 9, 1977, 23 years after the Italian expedition, Ichiro Yoshizawa led the second successful ascent to the top; with Ashraf Aman as the first native Pakistani climber. The Japanese expedition ascended through the Abruzzi Spur route traced by the Italians, and used more than 1,500 porters to achieve the goal.

    The year 1978 saw the third ascent of K2, via a new route, the long, corniced Northeast Ridge. (The top of the route traversed left across the East Face to avoid a vertical headwall and joined the uppermost part of the Abruzzi route.) This ascent was made by an American team, led by noted mountaineer James Whittaker; the summit party were Louis Reichardt, Jim Wickwire, John Roskelley, and Rick Ridgeway. Wickwire endured an overnight bivouac about 150 metres (490 ft) below the summit, one of the highest bivouacs in climbing history. This ascent was emotional for the American team, as they saw themselves as completing a task that had been begun by the 1938 team forty years earlier.

    Another notable Japanese ascent was that of the difficult North Ridge, on the Chinese side of the peak, in 1982. A team from the Mountaineering Association of Japan led by Isao Shinkai and Masatsugo Konishi put three members, Naoe Sakashita, Hiroshi Yoshino, and Yukihiro Yanagisawa, on the summit on August 14. However Yanagisawa fell and died on the descent. Four other members of the team achieved the summit the next day.

    The first climber to summit K2 twice was Czech climber Josef Rakoncaj. Rakoncaj was a member of the 1983 Italian expedition led by Francesco Santon, which made the second successful ascent of the North Ridge (July 31, 1983). Three years later, on July 5, 1986, he summitted on the Abruzzi Spur (double with Broad Peak West Face solo) as a member of Agostino da Polenza's international expedition.

    In 2004 the Spanish climber Carlos Soria Fontán became the oldest person ever to summit K2, at the age of 65.



    K2 from the east, photographed during the 1909 expedition

    Recent attempts


    The peak has now been climbed by almost all of its ridges. Although the summit of Everest is at a higher altitude, K2 is a much more difficult and dangerous climb, due in part to its more inclement weather and comparatively greater height from base to peak. The mountain is believed by many to be the world's most difficult and dangerous climb, hence its nickname "the Savage Mountain." It, and the surrounding peaks, have claimed more lives than any others. As of July 2010, only 302 people have completed the ascent, compared with over 2,700 individuals who have ascended the more popular target of Everest. At least 80 (as of September 2010) people have died attempting the climb. Notably, 13 climbers from several expeditions died in 1986 in the 1986 K2 Disaster, five of these in a severe storm. More recently, on August 1, 2008, a group of climbers went missing after a large piece of ice fell during an avalanche taking out the fixed ropes on part of the route; four climbers were rescued, but 11, including Gerard McDonnell, the first Irish person to reach the summit, were confirmed dead. On August 6, 2010, Fredrik Ericsson, who intended to ski from the summit, joined Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner on the way to the summit of K2. Ericsson fell 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) and was killed. Kaltenbrunner aborted her summit attempt.

    The West Face and upper slopes of K2

    Geographical setting of K2



    K2 lies in the northwestern Karakoram Range. The Tarim sedimentary basin borders the range on the north and the Lesser Himalayas on the south. Melt waters from vast glaciers, such as those south and east of K2, feed agriculture in the valleys and contribute significantly to the regional fresh-water supply. The Karakoram Range lies along the southern edge of the Eurasian tectonic plate and is made up of ancient sedimentary rocks (more than 390 million years old). Those strata were folded and thrust-faulted, and granite masses were intruded, when the Indian plate collided with Eurasia, beginning more than 100 million years ago.

    K2 is only ranked 22nd by topographic prominence, a measure of a mountain's independent stature, because it is part of the same extended area of uplift (including the Karakoram, the Tibetan Plateau, and the Himalaya) as Mount Everest, in that it is possible to follow a path from K2 to Everest that goes no lower than 4,594 metres (15,072 ft), at Mustang Lo. Many other peaks which are far lower than K2 are more independent in this sense.


    However, K2 is notable for its local relief as well as its total height. It stands over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) above much of the glacial valley bottoms at its base. More extraordinary is the fact that it is a consistently steep pyramid, dropping quickly in almost all directions. The north side is the steepest: there it rises over 3,200 metres (10,500 ft) above the K2 (Qogir) Glacier in only 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) of horizontal distance. In most directions, it achieves over 2,800 metres (9,200 ft) of vertical relief in less than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).

    Naming Of K2

    Montgomerie's original sketch in which he applied the notation K2


    The name K2 is derived from the notation used by the Great Trigonometric Survey. Thomas Montgomerie made the first survey of the Karakoram from Mount Haramukh, some 210 km (130 miles) to the south, and sketched the two most prominent peaks, labelling them K1 and K2.

    The policy of the Great Trigonometric Survey was to use local names for mountains wherever possible and K1 was found to be known locally as Masherbrum. K2, however, appeared not to have acquired a local name, possibly due to its remoteness. The mountain is not visible from Askole, the last village to the south, or from the nearest habitation to the north, and is only fleetingly glimpsed from the end of the Baltoro Glacier, beyond which few local people would have ventured. The name Chogori, derived from two Balti words, chhogo ("big") and ri ("mountain") has been suggested as a local name, but evidence for its widespread use is scant. It may have been a compound name invented by Western explorers or simply a bemused reply to the question "What's that called?" It does, however, form the basis for the name Qogir by which Chinese authorities officially refer to the peak. Other local names have been suggested including Lamba Pahar ("Tall Mountain" in Urdu) and Dapsang, but are not widely used.

    Lacking a local name, the name Mount Godwin-Austen was suggested, in honour of Henry Godwin-Austen, an early explorer of the area, and while the name was rejected by the Royal Geographical Society it was used on several maps, and continues to be used occasionally.

    Masherbrum, July 2004

    The surveyor's mark, K2, therefore continues to be the name by which the mountain is commonly known. It is now also used in the Balti language, rendered as Kechu or Ketu. The Italian climber Fosco Maraini argued in his account of the ascent of Gasherbrum IV that while the name of K2 owes its origin to chance, its clipped, impersonal nature is highly appropriate for so remote and challenging a mountain. He concluded that it was ...

    ... just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man – or of the cindered planet after the last.

    K2 the second of Eight thousanders Of Himalaya


    K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth, after Mount Everest. With a peak elevation of 8,611 m (28,251 feet), K2 is part of the Karakoram Range, and is located on the border between Gilgit, in Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. It is more hazardous to reach K2 from the Chinese side; thus, it is mostly climbed from the Pakistani side.


    K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the difficulty of ascent and the second-highest fatality rate among the "eight thousanders" for those who climb it. For every four people who have reached the summit, one has died trying. Unlike Annapurna, the mountain with the highest fatality rate, K2 has never been climbed in winter.

    Monday, May 30, 2011

    Geology and Flora and fauna Of Mount Everest

    The last rays of sunlight on Mount Everest on 5 May 2007

    Geologists have subdivided the rocks comprising Mount Everest into three units called "formations". Each formation is separated from the other by low-angle faults, called “detachments”, along which they have been thrust over each other. From the summit of Mount Everest to its base these rock units are the Qomolangma Formation, the North Col Formation, and the Rongbuk Formation.

    From its summit to the top of the Yellow Band, about 8,600 m (28,000 ft) above sea level, the top of Mount Everest consists of the Qomolangma Formation, which has also been designated as either the Everest Formation or Jolmo Lungama Formation. It consists of grayish to dark gray or white, parallel laminated and bedded, Ordovician limestone inter layered with subordinate beds of recrystallized dolomite with argillaceous laminae and siltstone. Gansser first reported finding microscopic fragments of crinoids in this limestone. Later petrographic analysis of samples of the limestone from near the summit revealed them to be composed of carbonate pellets and finely fragmented remains of trilobites, crinoids, and ostracods. Other samples were so badly sheared and recrystallized that their original constituents could not be determined. A thick, white-weathering thrombolite bed that is 60 m (200 ft) thick comprises the foot of the "Third Step," and base of the summit pyramid of Everest. This bed, which crops out starting about 70 m (300 ft) below the summit of Mount Everest, consists of sediments trapped, bound, and cemented by the biofilms of microorganisms, especially cyanobacteria, in shallow marine waters. The Qomolangma Formation is broken up by several high-angle faults that terminate at the low angle thrust fault, the Qomolangma Detachment. This detachment separates it from the underlying Yellow Band. The lower five metres of the Qomolangma Formation overlying this detachment are very highly deformed.

    The bulk of Mount Everest, between 7,000 and 8,600 m (23,000 and 28,200 ft), consists of the North Col Formation, of which the Yellow Band forms its upper part between 8,200 to 8,600 m (26,900 to 28,200 ft). The Yellow Band consists of intercalated beds of Middle Cambrian diopside-epidote-bearing marble, which weathers a distinctive yellowish brown, and muscovite-biotite phyllite and semischist. Petrographic analysis of marble collected from about 8,300 m (27,200 ft) found it to consist as much as five percent of the ghosts of recrystallized crinoid ossicles. The upper five metres of the Yellow Band lying adjacent to the Qomolangma Detachment is badly deformed. A 5–40 cm (2–16 in) thick fault breccia separates it from the overlying Qomolangma Formation.


    The remainder of the North Col Formation, exposed between 7,000 to 8,200 m (23,000 to 26,900 ft) on Mount Everest, consists of interlayered and deformed schist, phyllite, and minor marble. Between 7,600 and 8,200 m (24,900 and 26,900 ft), the North Col Formation consists chiefly of biotite-quartz phyllite and chlorite-biotite phyllite intercalated with minor amounts of biotite-sericite-quartz schist. Between 7,000 and 7,600 m (23,000 and 24,900 ft), the lower part of the North Col Formation consists of biotite-quartz schist intercalated with epidote-quartz schist, biotite-calcite-quartz schist, and thin layers of quartzose marble. These metamorphic rocks appear to be the result of the metamorphism of Middle to Early Cambrian deep sea flysch composed of interbedded, mudstone, shale, clayey sandstone, calcareous sandstone, graywacke, and sandy limestone. The base of the North Col Formation is a regional thrust fault called the "Lhotse detachment".

    Below 7,000 m (23,000 ft), the Rongbuk Formation underlies the North Col Formation and forms the base of Mount Everest. It consists of sillminite-K-feldspar grade schist and gneiss intruded by numerous sills and dikes of leucogranite ranging in thickness from 1 cm to 1,500 m (0.4 in to 4,900 ft).

    Euophrys omnisuperstes, a minute black jumping spider, has been found at elevations as high as 6,700 metres (22,000 ft), possibly making it the highest confirmed non-microscopic permanent resident on Earth. It lurks in crevices and may feed on frozen insects that have been blown there by the wind. It should be noted that there is a high likelihood of microscopic life at even higher altitudes. Birds, such as the Bar-headed Goose, have been seen flying at the higher altitudes of the mountain, while others, such as the Chough, have been spotted as high as the South Col (7,920 m) scavenging on food, or even corpses, left by prior climbing expeditions.

    Euophrys omnisuperstes, a minute black jumping spider

    Using bottled oxygen In Mount Everest


    Most expeditions use oxygen masks and tanks above 8,000 m (26,246 ft). Everest can be climbed without supplementary oxygen, but only by the most accomplished mountaineers and at increased risk. Humans do not think clearly with low oxygen, and the combination of extreme weather, low temperatures, and steep slopes often require quick, accurate decisions.

    The use of bottled oxygen to ascend Mount Everest has been controversial. It was first used in 1922 by George Finch ("the other George") and Geoffrey Bruce who climbed up to 25,500 ft (7,800 m) at a spectacular speed of 1000 vertical feet per hour. Pinned down by a fierce storm, they escaped death by breathing oxygen from a jury-rigged set-up during the night. The next day they climbed to 26,500 ft (8,100 m) at 900 vf/h--nearly three times as fast as non-oxygen users. Yet the use of oxygen was considered so unsportsmanlike that none of the rest of the Alpine world recognized this high ascent rate, confusing the facts with emotional considerations. George Mallory himself described the use of such oxygen as unsportsmanlike, but he later concluded that it would be impossible for him to summit without it and consequently used it in his ill-fated attempt in 1924. When Tenzing and Hillary made the first successful summit in 1953, they used bottled oxygen. For the next twenty-five years, bottled oxygen was considered standard for any successful summit.

    Reinhold Messner was the first climber to break the bottled oxygen tradition and in 1978, with Peter Habeler, made the first successful climb without it. Although critics alleged that he sucked mini-bottles of oxygen – a claim that Messner denied – Messner silenced them when he summited the mountain solo, without supplemental oxygen or any porters or climbing partners, on the more difficult northwest route, in 1980. Once the climbing community was satisfied that the mountain could be climbed without supplemental oxygen, many purists then took the next logical step of insisting that's how it should be climbed.


    The aftermath of the 1996 disaster further intensified the debate. Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air (1997) expressed the author's personal criticisms of the use of bottled oxygen. Krakauer wrote that the use of bottled oxygen allowed otherwise unqualified climbers to attempt to summit, leading to dangerous situations and more deaths. The 10–11 May 1996 disaster was partially caused by the sheer number of climbers (34 on that day) attempting to ascend, causing bottlenecks at the Hillary Step and delaying many climbers, most of whom summitted after the usual 2 p.m. turnaround time. He proposed banning bottled oxygen except for emergency cases, arguing that this would both decrease the growing pollution on Everest—many bottles have accumulated on its slopes—and keep marginally qualified climbers off the mountain.

    The 1996 disaster also introduced the issue of the guide's role in using bottled oxygen. Guide Anatoli Boukreev's decision not to use bottled oxygen was sharply criticized by Jon Krakauer. Boukreev's supporters (who include G. Weston DeWalt, who co-wrote The Climb) state that using bottled oxygen gives a false sense of security. Krakauer and his supporters point out that, without bottled oxygen, Boukreev could not directly help his clients descend. They state that Boukreev said that he was going down with client Martin Adams, but just below the South Summit, Boukreev determines that Adams was doing fine on the descent and so descends at a faster pace, leaving Adams behind. Adams states in The Climb: "For me, it was business as usual, Anatoli's going by, and I had no problems with that."

    Death zone Of Mount Everest

    The summit of Mount Everest is in the death zone


    At the higher regions of Mount Everest, climbers seeking the summit typically spend substantial time within the "death zone" (altitudes higher than 8,000 m/26,246 ft), and face significant challenges to survival. Temperatures can dip to very low levels, resulting in frostbite of any body part exposed to the air. Since temperatures are so low, snow is well-frozen in certain areas and death or injury by slipping and falling can occur. High winds at these altitudes on Everest are also a potential threat to climbers.

    Another significant threat to climbers is low atmospheric pressure. The atmospheric pressure at the top of Everest is about a third of sea level pressure, resulting in the availability of only about a third as much oxygen to breathe.

    In May 2007, the Caudwell Xtreme Everest undertook a medical study of oxygen levels in human blood at extreme altitude. Over 200 volunteers climbed to Everest Base Camp where various medical tests were performed to examine blood oxygen levels. A small team also performed tests on the way to the summit.

    Dead Climber on Everest.

    Even at base camp, the low partial pressure of oxygen had direct effect on blood oxygen saturation levels. At sea level, blood oxygen saturation is generally 98% to 99%. At base camp, blood saturation fell to between 85% and 87%. Blood samples taken at the summit indicated very low oxygen levels in the blood. A side effect of low blood oxygen is a vastly increased breathing rate, often 80–90 breaths per minute as opposed to a more typical 20–30. Exhaustion can occur merely attempting to breathe.

    Lack of oxygen, exhaustion, extreme cold, and climbing hazards all contribute to the death toll. An injured person who cannot walk is in serious trouble, since rescue by helicopter is generally impractical and carrying the person off the mountain is very risky. People who die during the climb are typically left behind. About 150 bodies have never been recovered. It is not uncommon to find corpses near the standard climbing routes.

    Mt. Everest has a "death zone"

    Ascents Of Mount Everest

    Early expeditions



    Mount Everest as seen from the Rongbuk Monastery.
    In 1885, Clinton Thomas Dent, president of the Alpine Club, suggested that climbing Mount Everest was possible in his book Above the Snow Line.

    The northern approach to the mountain was discovered by George Mallory on the first expedition in 1921. It was an exploratory expedition not equipped for a serious attempt to climb the mountain. With Mallory leading (and thus becoming the first European to set foot on Everest's flanks) they climbed the North Col 7,007 metres (22,989 ft). From there, Mallory espied a route to the top, but the party was unprepared for the great task of climbing any further and descended.

    The British returned for a 1922 expedition. George Finch ("The other George") climbed using oxygen for the first time. He ascended at a remarkable speed—950 feet (290 m) per hour, and reached an altitude of 8,320 m (27,300 ft), the first time a human climbed higher than 8,000m. This feat was entirely lost on the British climbing establishment—except for its "unsporting" nature. Mallory and Col. Felix Norton made a second unsuccessful attempt. Mallory was faulted for leading a group down from the North Col which got caught in an avalanche. Mallory was pulled down too, but seven native porters were killed.

    The next Expedition was in 1924. The initial attempt by Mallory and Bruce was aborted when weather conditions precluded the establishment of Camp VI. The next attempt was that of Norton and Somervell who climbed without oxygen and in perfect weather, traversing the North Face into the Great Couloir. Norton managed to reach 8,558 metres (28,077 ft), though he ascended only 100 feet (30 m) or so in the last hour. Mallory rustled up oxygen equipment for a last-ditch effort. He chose the young Andrew Irvine as his partner.

    On 8 June 1924 George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made an attempt on the summit via the North Col/North Ridge/Northeast Ridge route from which they never returned. On 1 May 1999 the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition found Mallory's body on the North Face in a snow basin below and to the west of the traditional site of Camp VI. Controversy has raged in the mountaineering community whether one or both of them reached the summit 29 years before the confirmed ascent (and of course, safe descent) of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

    In 1933, Lady Houston, a British millionaire ex-showgirl, funded the Houston Everest Flight of 1933, which saw a formation of aircraft led by the Marquess of Clydesdale fly over the summit in an effort to deploy the British Union Flag at the top.

    Early expeditions—such as Bruce's in the 1920s and Hugh Ruttledge's two unsuccessful attempts in 1933 and 1936—tried to make an ascent of the mountain from Tibet, via the north face. Access was closed from the north to western expeditions in 1950, after the Chinese asserted control over Tibet. In 1950, Bill Tilman and a small party which included Charles Houston, Oscar Houston and Betsy Cowles undertook an exploratory expedition to Everest through Nepal along the route which has now become the standard approach to Everest from the south.

    The Swiss expedition of 1952, led by Edouard Wyss-Dunant, was granted permission to attempt a climb from Nepal. The expedition established a route through the Khumbu ice fall and ascended to the South Col at an elevation of 7,986 metres (26,201 ft). No attempt at an ascent of Everest was ever under consideration in this case. Raymond Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were able to reach a height of about 8,595 metres (28,199 ft) on the southeast ridge, setting a new climbing altitude record. Tenzing's experience was useful when he was hired to be part of the British expedition in 1953.

    First successful ascent by Tenzing and Hillary

    In 1953, a ninth British expedition, led by John Hunt, returned to Nepal. Hunt selected two climbing pairs to attempt to reach the summit. The first pair (Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans) came within 100 m (300 feet) of the summit on 26 May 1953, but turned back after running into oxygen problems. As planned, their work in route finding and breaking trail and their caches of extra oxygen were of great aid to the following pair. Two days later, the expedition made its second and final assault on the summit with its second climbing pair, the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali sherpa climber. They reached the summit at 11:30 a.m. local time on 29 May 1953 via the South Col Route. At the time, both acknowledged it as a team effort by the whole expedition, but Tenzing revealed a few years later that Hillary had put his foot on the summit first. They paused at the summit to take photographs and buried a few sweets and a small cross in the snow before descending.

    News of the expedition's success reached London on the morning of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, June 2. Returning to Kathmandu a few days later, Hunt (a Briton) and Hillary (a New Zealander) discovered that they had been promptly knighted in the Order of the British Empire, a KBE, for the ascent. Tenzing (a subject of the King of Nepal) was granted the George Medal by the UK. Hunt was ultimately made a life peer in Britain, while Hillary became a founding member of the Order of New Zealand. Hillary and Tenzing are also nationally recognized in Nepal, where annual ceremonies in schools and offices celebrate their accomplishment.

    First ascents without supplemental oxygen and first solo ascent 

    On 8 May 1978, Reinhold Messner (Italy) and Peter Habeler (Austria) made the first ascent without supplemental oxygen, using the southeast ridge route. On 20 August 1980, Messner reached the summit of the mountain solo for the first time, without supplementary oxygen or support, on the more difficult Northwest route via the North Col to the North Face and the Great Couloir. He climbed for three days entirely alone from his base camp at 6,500 metres (21,300 ft).

    First winter ascent 

    In 1980, a team from Poland led by Andrzej Zawada, Leszek Cichy, and Krzysztof Wielicki became the first to reach the summit during the winter season.

     1996 disaster

    During the 1996 season, 15 people died while climbing on Mount Everest, making it the deadliest single year in the mountain's history. Eight of them died on 11 May alone. The disaster gained wide publicity and raised questions about the commercialization of climbing Mount Everest.


    Journalist Jon Krakauer, on assignment from Outside magazine, was in one of the affected parties, and afterwards published the bestseller Into Thin Air, which related his experience. Anatoli Boukreev, a guide who felt impugned by Krakauer's book, co-authored a rebuttal book called The Climb. The dispute sparked a debate within the climbing community. In May 2004, Kent Moore, a physicist, and John L. Semple, a surgeon, both researchers from the University of Toronto, told New Scientist magazine that an analysis of weather conditions on 11 May suggested that freak weather caused oxygen levels to plunge approximately 14%.

    Apa Sherpa has reached the summit 21 times

    The storm's impact on climbers on the North Ridge of Mount Everest, where several climbers also died, was detailed in a first-hand account by British filmmaker and writer Matt Dickinson in his book The Other Side of Everest. 16-year-old Mark Pfetzer was on the climb and wrote about it in his account, Within Reach: My Everest Story.

    2005: Helicopter landing

    On 14 May 2005, pilot Didier Delsalle of France landed a Eurocopter AS 350 B3 helicopter on the summit of Mount Everest (without any witness) and took off after about four minutes. (His rotors were continually engaged, constituting a "hover landing", and avoiding the risks of relying on the snow to support the aircraft.) He thereby set rotorcraft world records, for highest of both landing (de facto) and take-off (formally).

    Delsalle had also performed, two days earlier, a take-off from the South Col; some press reports suggested that the report of the summit landing was a misunderstanding of a South Col landing.

    2006: David Sharp controversy

    Double-amputee climber Mark Inglis revealed in an interview with the press on 23 May 2006, that his climbing party, and many others, had passed a distressed climber, David Sharp, on 15 May, sheltering under a rock overhang 450 metres (1,480 ft) below the summit, without attempting a rescue. The revelation sparked wide debate on climbing ethics, especially as applied to Everest. The climbers who left him said that the rescue efforts would have been useless and only have caused more deaths. Much of this controversy was captured by the Discovery Channel while filming the television program Everest: Beyond the Limit. A crucial decision affecting the fate of Sharp is shown in the program, where an early returning climber (Max Chaya) is descending and radios to his base camp manager (Russell Brice) that he has found a climber in distress. He is unable to identify Sharp, who had chosen to climb solo without any support and so did not identify himself to other climbers. The base camp manager assumes that Sharp is part of a group that has abandoned him, and informs his climber that there is no chance of him being able to help Sharp. As Sharp's condition deteriorates through the day and other descending climbers pass him, his opportunities for rescue diminish: his legs and feet curl from frostbite, preventing him from walking; the later descending climbers are lower on oxygen and lack the strength to offer aid; time runs out for any Sherpas to return and rescue him. Most importantly, Sharp's decision to forgo all support left him with no margin for recovery.

    As this debate raged, on 26 May, Australian climber Lincoln Hall was found alive, after being declared dead the day before. He was found by a party of four climbers (Dan Mazur, Andrew Brash, Myles Osborne and Jangbu Sherpa) who, giving up their own summit attempt, stayed with Hall and descended with him and a party of 11 Sherpas sent up to carry him down. Hall later fully recovered. Similar actions have been recorded since, including on 21 May 2007, when Canadian climber Meagan McGrath initiated the successful high-altitude rescue of Nepali Usha Bista.


    Various records

    The youngest person to climb Mount Everest was 13-year-old Jordan Romero in May 2010. Apa Sherpa holds the record for reaching the summit more times than any other person (21 times as of May 2011).

    The fastest ascent over the northeast ridge was accomplished in 2007 by Austrian climber Christian Stangl, who needed 16h 42min for the 10 km distance from Camp III to the summit, just barely beating Italian Hans Kammerlander's record of 17 hours, accomplished in 1996. Both men climbed alone and without supplementary oxygen. The fastest oxygen-supported ascent over the southeast ridge was Nepalese Pemba Dorjie Sherpa's 2004 climb, using 8h 10min for the 17 km route. The fastest ascent without supplementary oxygen over the southeast ridge was accomplished by French Marc Batard who reached the summit in 22h 30min in 1988.

    The first descent by paraglider was by Jean-Marc Boivin on 26 September 1988, and the first descent by ski was in 2000 by Davo Karnicar.

    The oldest climber to reach Mt. Everest's summit is 76-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan, who did so 25 May 2008 from the Nepal side. Sherchan beat the previous record set in 2007 by 71 year old Katsusuke Yanagisawa. The oldest climber to summit Mt. Everest from both sides (Nepal and Tibet) of the mountain is 60-year-old Julio Bird, a Puerto Rican cardiologist who reached the summit of Mt. Everest from the north side on May 17, 2010.

    Min Bahadur Sherchan was nearly 77 years old, when he reached the top on his first attempt

    Climbing routes Of Mount Everest

    Southern and northern climbing routes as seen from the International Space Station
    Mt. Everest has two main climbing routes, the southeast ridge from Nepal and the northeast ridge from Tibet, as well as many other less frequently climbed routes. Of the two main routes, the southeast ridge is technically easier and is the more frequently used route. It was the route used by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953 and the first recognized of fifteen routes to the top by 1996. This was, however, a route decision dictated more by politics than by design as the Chinese border was closed to the western world in the 1950s after the People's Republic of China invaded Tibet.

    Southeast ridge

    The ascent via the southeast ridge begins with a trek to Base Camp at 5,380 m (17,700 ft) on the south side of Everest in Nepal. Expeditions usually fly into Lukla (2,860 m) from Kathmandu and pass through Namche Bazaar. Climbers then hike to Base Camp, which usually takes six to eight days, allowing for proper altitude acclimatization in order to prevent altitude sickness. Climbing equipment and supplies are carried by yaks, dzopkyos (yak hybrids) and human porters to Base Camp on the Khumbu Glacier. When Hillary and Tenzing climbed Everest in 1953, they started from Kathmandu Valley, as there were no roads further east at that time.

    Climbers will spend a couple of weeks in Base Camp, acclimatizing to the altitude. During that time, Sherpas and some expedition climbers will set up ropes and ladders in the treacherous Khumbu Icefall. Seracs, crevasses and shifting blocks of ice make the icefall one of the most dangerous sections of the route. Many climbers and Sherpas have been killed in this section. To reduce the hazard, climbers will usually begin their ascent well before dawn when the freezing temperatures glue ice blocks in place. Above the icefall is Camp I at 6,065 metres (19,900 ft).

    From Camp I, climbers make their way up the Western Cwm to the base of the Lhotse face, where Camp II or Advanced Base Camp (ABC) is established at 6,500 m (21,300 ft). The Western Cwm is a flat, gently rising glacial valley, marked by huge lateral crevasses in the centre which prevent direct access to the upper reaches of the Cwm. Climbers are forced to cross on the far right near the base of Nuptse to a small passageway known as the "Nuptse corner". The Western Cwm is also called the "Valley of Silence" as the topography of the area generally cuts off wind from the climbing route. The high altitude and a clear, windless day can make the Western Cwm unbearably hot for climbers.

    Mount Everest north face from Rongbuk in Tibet

    From ABC, climbers ascend the Lhotse face on fixed ropes up to Camp III, located on a small ledge at 7,470 m (24,500 ft). From there, it is another 500 metres to Camp IV on the South Col at 7,920 m (26,000 ft). From Camp III to Camp IV, climbers are faced with two additional challenges: The Geneva Spur and The Yellow Band. The Geneva Spur is an anvil shaped rib of black rock named by the 1952 Swiss expedition. Fixed ropes assist climbers in scrambling over this snow covered rock band. The Yellow Band is a section of interlayered marble, phyllite, and semischist which also requires about 100 metres of rope for traversing it.

    On the South Col, climbers enter the death zone. Climbers typically only have a maximum of two or three days they can endure at this altitude for making summit bids. Clear weather and low winds are critical factors in deciding whether to make a summit attempt. If weather does not cooperate within these short few days, climbers are forced to descend, many all the way back down to Base Camp.

    From Camp IV, climbers will begin their summit push around midnight with hopes of reaching the summit (still another 1,000 metres above) within 10 to 12 hours. Climbers will first reach "The Balcony" at 8,400 m (27,600 ft), a small platform where they can rest and gaze at peaks to the south and east in the early light of dawn. Continuing up the ridge, climbers are then faced with a series of imposing rock steps which usually forces them to the east into waist deep snow, a serious avalanche hazard. At 8,750 m (28,700 ft), a small table-sized dome of ice and snow marks the South Summit.

    From the South Summit, climbers follow the knife-edge southeast ridge along what is known as the "Cornice traverse" where snow clings to intermittent rock. This is the most exposed section of the climb as a misstep to the left would send one 2,400 m (8,000 ft) down the southwest face while to the immediate right is the 3,050 m (10,000 ft) Kangshung face. At the end of this traverse is an imposing 12 m (40 ft) rock wall called the "Hillary Step" at 8,760 m (28,740 ft).

    View from space showing South Col route and North Col/Ridge route

    Hillary and Tenzing were the first climbers to ascend this step and they did it with primitive ice climbing equipment and with ropes. Nowadays, climbers will ascend this step using fixed ropes previously set up by Sherpas. Once above the step, it is a comparatively easy climb to the top on moderately angled snow slopes–though the exposure on the ridge is extreme especially while traversing large cornices of snow. With increasing numbers of people climbing the mountain in recent years, the Step has frequently become a bottleneck, with climbers forced to wait significant amounts of time for their turn on the ropes, leading to problems in getting climbers efficiently up and down the mountain. After the Hillary Step, climbers also must traverse a loose and rocky section that has a large entanglement of fixed ropes that can be troublesome in bad weather. Climbers will typically spend less than a half-hour on the "top of the world" as they realize the need to descend to Camp IV before darkness sets in, afternoon weather becomes a serious problem, or supplemental oxygen tanks run out.


    Northeast ridge

    The northeast ridge route begins from the north side of Everest in Tibet. Expeditions trek to the Rongbuk Glacier, setting up Base Camp at 5,180 m (16,990 ft) on a gravel plain just below the glacier. To reach Camp II, climbers ascend the medial moraine of the east Rongbuk Glacier up to the base of Changtse at around 6,100 m (20,000 ft). Camp III (ABC – Advanced Base Camp) is situated below the North Col at 6,500 m (21,300 ft). To reach Camp IV on the north col, climbers ascend the glacier to the foot of the col where fixed ropes are used to reach the North Col at 7,010 m (23,000 ft). From the North Col, climbers ascend the rocky north ridge to set up Camp V at around 7,775 m (25,500 ft). The route crosses the North Face in a diagonal climb to the base of the Yellow Band reaching the site of Camp VI at 8,230 m (27,000 ft). From Camp VI, climbers will make their final summit push. Climbers face a treacherous traverse from the base of the First Step: 27,890 feet (8,500 m) – 28,000 feet (8,500 m), to the crux of the climb, the Second Step: 28,140 feet (8,580 m) – 28,300 feet. (The Second Step includes a climbing aid called the "Chinese ladder", a metal ladder placed semi-permanently in 1975 by a party of Chinese climbers. It has been almost continuously in place since, and ladders have been used by virtually all climbers on the route.) Once above the Second Step the inconsequential Third Step is clambered over: 28,510 feet (8,690 m) – 28,870 feet (8,800 m). Once above these steps, the summit pyramid is climbed by a snow slope of 50 degrees, to the final summit ridge along which the top is reached.

    A view of Everest southeast ridge base camp. The Khumbu Icefall can be seen in the left. In the center are the remnants of a helicopter that crashed in 2003.

    Measurement Of Mount Everest


    In 1856, Andrew Waugh announced Everest (then known as Peak XV) as 29,002 ft (8,840 m) high, after several years of calculations based on observations made by the Great Trigonometric Survey.

    The 8,848 m (29,029 ft) height given in this article is officially recognised by Nepal and China. On 9 October 2005, after several months of measurement and calculation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping officially announced the height of Everest as 8,844.43 m (29,017.16 ft) with accuracy of ±0.21 m (0.69 ft). They claimed it was the most accurate and precise measurement to date. This height is based on the actual highest point of rock and not on the snow and ice covering it. The Chinese team also measured a snow/ice depth of 3.5 m (11 ft), which is in agreement with a net elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft). The snow and ice thickness varies over time, making a definitive height of the snow cap impossible to determine.

    The elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft) was first determined by an Indian survey in 1955, made closer to the mountain, also using theodolites. It was subsequently reaffirmed by a 1975 Chinese measurement 8,848.13 m (29,029.30 ft). In both cases the snow cap, not the rock head, was measured. In May 1999 an American Everest Expedition, directed by Bradford Washburn, anchored a GPS unit into the highest bedrock. A rock head elevation of 8,850 m (29,035 ft), and a snow/ice elevation 1 m (3 ft) higher, were obtained via this device. Although it has not been officially recognized by Nepal, this figure is widely quoted. Geoid uncertainty casts doubt upon the accuracy claimed by both the 1999 and 2005 surveys.

    A detailed photogrammetric map (at a scale of 1:50,000) of the Khumbu region, including the south side of Mount Everest, was made by Erwin Schneider as part of the 1955 International Himalayan Expedition, which also attempted Lhotse. An even more detailed topographic map of the Everest area was made in the late 1980s under the direction of Bradford Washburn, using extensive aerial photography.


    It is thought that the plate tectonics of the area are adding to the height and moving the summit northeastwards. Two accounts suggest the rates of change are 4 mm (0.16 in) per year (upwards) and 3 to 6 mm (0.12 to 0.24 in) per year (northeastwards), but another account mentions more lateral movement (27 mm/1.1 in), and even shrinkage has been suggested.

    Comparisons

    The summit of Everest is the point at which the Earth's surface reaches the greatest distance above sea level. Several other mountains are sometimes claimed as alternative "tallest mountains on Earth". Mauna Kea in Hawaii is tallest when measured from its base; it rises over 10,200 m (6.3 mi) when measured from its base on the mid-ocean floor, but only attains 4,205 m (13,796 ft) above sea level.

    By the same measure of base to summit, Mount McKinley, in Alaska, is also taller than Everest. Despite its height above sea level of only 6,193.6 m (20,320 ft), Mount McKinley sits atop a sloping plain with elevations from 300 m (980 ft) to 900 m (3,000 ft), yielding a height above base in the range of 5,300 to 5,900 m (17,400 to 19,400 ft); a commonly quoted figure is 5,600 m (18,400 ft).[28] By comparison, reasonable base elevations for Everest range from 4,200 m (13,800 ft) on the south side to 5,200 m (17,100 ft) on the Tibetan Plateau, yielding a height above base in the range of 3,650 to 4,650 m (11,980 to 15,260 ft).

    The summit of Chimborazo in Ecuador is 2,168 m (7,113 ft) farther from the Earth's centre (6,384.4 km (3,967.1 mi)) than that of Everest (6,382.3 km (3,965.8 mi)), because the Earth bulges at the Equator. However, Chimborazo attains a height of only 6,267 m (20,561 ft) above sea level, and by this criterion it is not even the highest peak of the Andes.

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