One study found that twice as many climbers successfully climb Mount Everest than three decades ago – but the death rate remains at around 1 percent.
The summit of Everest in the Himalayas reaches an elevation of 29,030 feet above sea level and attracts around 500 climbers who aim to climb the world's highest peak each spring.
Over the past thirty years, the number of people who made the Ascent has increased – and the narrow path through the “death zone” near the summit has become increasingly crowded.
This is the altitude above about 26,247 feet at which oxygen pressure drops so far that it cannot sustain human life for extended periods of time.
The results of the new study also break down the demographics of climbers – such as age, experience, and gender – who conquered the summit or died during the effort.
Such data could help researchers decide whether to impose restrictions such as a maximum climbing age or a minimum level of experience.
Twice as many climbers successfully climb Mount Everest as it did three decades ago – but according to a study, the death rate is still around 1 percent
"Mount Everest is still a very dangerous mountain, and climbing it will never become a walk in the park because it is way beyond the limits of most people," said University of Washington paper writer and biologist Raymond Huey.
"Unfortunately, the risk statistics reported on Everest are often imprecise."
"By analyzing the climbing data, we provide accurate information about the chances of success and the likelihood of death, helping climbers make an informed decision about whether to attempt this magnificent peak."
In their study, Professor Huey and colleagues analyzed the success and death rates of all first-time climbers who were granted a paid permit to summit Everest from 1990 to 2019.
The team excluded mountaineers who performed additional duties during the climb – such as porters at high altitude, photos, and other support staff – as well as those who attempted the second or more attempts to climb the summit.
A small selection of years in which the climbing season was canceled due to ice avalanches or earthquakes was also excluded.
The peak of Everest in the Himalayas reaches 29,030 feet above sea level and attracts around 500 climbers who aim to climb the world's highest peak each year. In the picture the Everest base camp
Checking the altitude with GPS during the hike on the Manaslu Racetrack in Dharamsala
The team found that the total number of first-time climbers rose from around 2,200 between 1990 and 2005 to more than 3,600 in 2006–2019.
Two thirds of these now reach the summit, in contrast to the third in the earlier study period – and a 60-year-old climber today has the same success rate of around 40 percent as a 40-year-old climber did before.
In both periods, men and women had essentially the same probability of success or death. However, female climbers now make up 5.5 percent more of the total number of mountaineers climbing Everest for the first time.
The team attributes the increase in the ratio of successful expeditions to factors such as improved weather forecasting, increased consumption of supplemental oxygen (and earlier during the ascent), and the proliferation of landlines on popular routes.
In addition, the researchers found, expedition leaders and porters are generally more experienced today at high altitudes – although climbers today, in contrast, tend to be less experienced than their predecessors in the 1990s and early 2000s.
"Mount Everest is still a very dangerous mountain, and climbing it will never be a walk in the park because it is way beyond the limits of most people," said University of Washington biologist Raymond Huey. In the picture a signpost to Everest base camp
Professor Huey and colleagues obtained their data on the climbers from the so-called "Himalayan Database", a website based on the records of the Kathmandu-based Reuters journalist Elizabeth Hawley.
Ms. Hawley, who passed away in early 2018, kept the official record of all climbs and summit successes for Everest and hundreds of other Nepalese peaks – and her work now continues under new leadership.
"It's a remarkable source of data," commented Professor Huey.
"She was legendary – climbers always said you didn't climb Mount Everest until Ms. Hawley says you climbed Mount Everest," he added.
The full results of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The summit of Everest in the Himalayas reaches an elevation of 29,030 feet above sea level and attracts around 500 climbers who aim to climb the world's highest peak each spring
CLIMBING MOUNT EVEREST
Everest is the highest mountain in the world and lies on the border between Nepal and Tibet.
Its height is a controversial issue because different measurement methods lead to variable results.
However, the general consensus is that Mount Everest is 8,848 m above sea level.
Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit on May 29, 1953 as part of the British expedition led by Lord John Hunt.
By February 2014, Everest had been climbed 6,871 times by 4,042 mountaineers.
Tragically, 265 people died while climbing Everest between 1922 and 2014.
On April 18, 2014, 16 rope access workers were killed in the Khumbu Icefall below Camp 1 when a block of glacier ice collapsed.
These workers often act as guides, carrying tents and other supplies for hikers up the mountain.
Most expeditions last around two months.
Alpine Ascents recommends training specifically for Everest for at least a year.
"You have to gradually increase your hiking time, distance and altitude differences (at around 10 percent per week) in order to build up your climbing-specific fitness safely and effectively," it continues.
Those who want to reach the summit should also complete expeditions over 6,096 m beforehand.
And have experience in handling devices and in dealing with extremely cold temperatures and extreme altitudes.
Almost everyone who climbs Everest uses a commercial expedition operator.
Prices vary from $ 65,000 (approximately £ 50,250) to $ 35,000 (£ 27,060). A tax of around $ 11,000 (£ 8,500) also goes to the Nepalese government.
And each climber has to pay $ 600 (£ 460) to the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee.
All expedition operators must have helicopter and life insurance.
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