The Everest FAQ Answers [CLICK FOR INDEX] 6.) How long does an expedition take, and why can't you just go straight up from Base Camp to the summit?

Climber Dave Hahn This Everest Climb will take us about 2½ months from home, round-trip. It may take as long as two weeks to get from home to Base Camp as a few days are always lost somewhere over the Pacific, a few more are spent in Kathmandu buying food, sorting gear and hanging out begging for Visas at the Chinese embassy. It then should take at least five days to get overland from Kathmandu to Base Camp. It might take longer if the road is in rough shape. It can be done in less time, but that would be foolish as Base Camp is at 17,000 ft. and going there too fast will definitely get somebody sick enough to die. That is the thing about high altitude. People have to "acclimatize" which takes a little patience.

Mount Everest photos Eric Simonson expedition Above 10,000 ft., the recommended rate of ascent is just about 1000 ft per day. And that is really referring to the height that one should sleep at. If too many symptoms of sickness are encountered at a new altitude, the climber needs to go back down lower, rest and try again. So when Base Camp is established at 17000 ft, most of us need some days to feel good enough again to go higher and feel bad once more. We'll go down, rest, come up again to where we felt miserable before, simply feel bad now and find we can go higher to where we feel miserable again. Sound fun? Make sense? It better, because the penalty for getting it wrong can be death. Altitude illness can quickly incapacitate an otherwise strong climber. The only cure would be to get that person lower and to do it quickly. That isn't always possible. So the acclimatization process can take a month on an Everest climb.

Mixed in with that program could be weather delays of ten days or so at a stretch where the wind won't allow progress at establishing camps and, or, the climbing route. When it comes time for summit bids, these can be accomplished in about a week from Base Camp, but the weather has to be right. After the summit has been reached, it still takes probably another week to get the mountain clean and get the loads yakked down to the trucks and to get it all to Kathmandu again. A few days get spent in Kathmandu sorting gear and drinking beer and then those days get lost in the Pacific again on the flight home. So, one could say that it takes a week to climb Everest... but you spend two-and-a-half months paying for that week.

Dave Hahn, Climber

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