Mt. Everest: A Thrill and a Death TrapBy: Mike Tuttle - April 24, 2014
Why do people climb Mt. Everest? Because it’s there.
It is the tallest mountain in the world. It is ten times taller than the worlds tallest building, and is only slightly lower than the cruising altitude of a jumbo jet.
The attraction of a seemingly insurmountable object like Everest is too great for some people to pass up. Perhaps every person who has ever climbed the thing had their own reasons for doing so.
In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay wrote themselves into the history books — as well as Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century — by being the first verified people to make it to the top and live to tell the tale.
Everest has been the scene of the death of 248 people. Most of those bodies are still on the mountain. The winds on the mountain can blow 200 mph. But there is a window of time in May and November when the winds shift and things calm enough for a climb. That period is called the summit window, and it is when most climbers give it a go. In total, over 4,000 people have climbed the mountain, and almost 3,000 of them have gone back for another round.. Only 660 made it to the top.
Most climbers on Everest take bottled oxygen with them. The climb itself is not any worse than most mountains, but the sheer altitude makes things incredibly difficult. There is only 1/3 of the oxygen at Everest’s summit than there is at the base. Of the 660 people who have made it to the top, fewer than 200 went without bottled oxygen.
The popularity of Everest as a challenge has taken a hit lately due to avalanches. Some say that global climate change is to blame for the instability that took 16 lives recently. Things are so bad that the country of Nepal has officially closed access to Mt. Everest from their side for the rest of 2014.
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