"We agreed that this was going to be no ordinary climb. For the time being, Everest was rather more than a mountain."
John Hunt, leader of the '53 expedition

"We will stamp to the top with the wind in our teeth."
George Mallory, 1924

"All the winds of Asia seemed to be trying to blow us from the ridge."
Peter Boardman, 1975, about the South Summit

"Oh, the absolute lethargy of 24,600'. You want to pee, and you lie there for a quarter of an hour making up your mind to look for the pee bottle."
Chris Bonnington, 1975

"[After] the Hillary Step... we just lay on our bellies in the snow, gasping and immobile."
Peter Habeler, 1978, first oxygenless ascent
Just the Facts
All Everest, all the time

route locationelevation (ft)
Khumbu Icefall17,500-19,500
Camp I19,500
Western Cwm19,500-21,000
Camp II21,000
Camp III23,500
Camp IV26,300
Hillary Step28,800

The South Col Route

Mouse over the climbing route for info and click to see a photo from that spot on Everest.

Annual Stats
S2'53 D
U'54 E
M'55 A
M4'56 T
I'57 H
T'58 S
3'60 1
'62 1
6'63 1
'66 1
'69 1
4'70 8
'71 1
'72 1
10'73 1
'74 6
15'75 2
4'76 1
25'78 2
18'79 6
10'80 3
5'81 1
18'82 11
23'83 3
17'84 8
30'85 7
4'86 4
2'87 4
50'88 10
24'89 8
72'90 4
38'91 2
90'92 5
129'93 8
51'94 5
83'95 3
98'96 15
85'97 9
Data from The New York Times
Need To Know:

Elevation: 29,028'; five miles up; the world's highest summit is at about the cruising altitude of a jet.

Local Names: Sagarmatha (Nepal), Chomolungma (Tibet). It means "mother goddess of the earth."

The Death Zone: Above 26,000' there's about a third of the oxygen available at sea level. Even acclimated, the body begins to shut down, and if a person stays that high long enough, they will die. Most climbers use oxygen here for climbing and sleeping.

First Ascent: 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary, NZ and Tenzing Norgay, Nepal, via the South Col Route. Neither has ever said who stepped on the summit first.

Because It's There: in 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, GBR, were last seen going strong for the top. It is unknown if they reached the summit before disappearing. In 1921, Mallory had led the first ever expedition to Everest.

Best and Worst Years on Everest: in 1993, 129 summitted and eight died (a ratio of 16:1); in 1996, 98 summitted and 15 died (a ratio of 6.5:1).

First Oxygenless Ascent: 1978, Reinhold Messner, ITL and Peter Habeler, AUS, via the South-East Ridge.

First Solo Ascent: 1980, Reinhold Messner, via the North Col to North Face.

First Ascent by a Woman: 1975, Junko Tabei, JAP, via the South-East Ridge.

First Ascent by an American: 1963, James Whittaker, via the South-East Ridge.

First Ascent by an American Woman: 1988, Stacey Allison, via the South-East Ridge.

Wind: climber Dave Breashears has compared the ominous sound of evening winds on the upper mountain to that of a 747 jet taking off endlessly.

Narrow Window: weather on Everest permits reasonable climbing only in May and October between winter snows and summer monsoons.

Routes Climbed on Everest
South East Ridge from the South Col (Original Route), 1953
North Ridge from the North Col (Chinese Route), 1960
West Ridge by the Hornbein Couloir (American Route), 1963
South West Face, 1975
West Ridge Direct (Jugoslav Route), 1979
North Face by the Hornbein Couloir (Japanese Route), 1980
North Face from the North Col (Messner Route), 1980
South Pillar (Polish Route), 1980
South West Face Central Pillar (Russian Route), 1982
East Face by the Central Pillar, 1983
North Face by the Great Couloir, 1984
East Face and South East Ridge, 1988
North East Ridge Integrale, 1988 (incomplete to summit)