How Many People Have Died on Mount Everest?

Thousands of people flock to Mount Everest each year, hoping to summit the world’s most famous mountain. Sadly, not all of them make it back. When you’re climbing a mountain that’s 8,849 meters tall, accidents happen. Sometimes bad weather rolls in, sometimes climbers get injured, and a lot of the time, oxygen is limited. On Everest, it’s always life or death.

Mount Everest Deaths

Let’s dive into the tragic stories of Mount Everest and look at just how many people have perished during the climb. At the end of the article, we’ll compare the statistics of Kilimanjaro to give an idea of their similarities and differences.

Grab your climbing gear, and let’s go!

Where is Mount Everest? (Is Getting There Dangerous?)

Mount Everest is a part of the Himalayan Mountains, sitting along the border between Nepal and China. The peak is shared by both countries, but the most well-known summit route is on the Nepal side. Hikers usually fly from Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, to the small mountain town of Lukla.

The Lukla airport is known for being one of the most dangerous in the world. Why? Well, the runway is short, the visibility is poor, the wind is severe, and the altitude is high. Most runways are around 3,000 meters long, while Lukla’s is just 527 meters. There have been around a dozen accidents at the airport and dozens of fatalities.

How Many People Have Died on Mount Everest?

At least 310 people have died on Mount Everest, and that number slowly ticks up each year. The first summit of the mountain was in 1953. So, that means four to five people have died there each year since then. But, in reality, not many people attempted to climb the mountain until the 1990s, when commercial trips started to be offered.

The single deadliest day occurred on April 25th, 2015. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake resulted in the deaths of 19 people at the base camp. Another tragic day happened on April 14th, 2014, when an avalanche took out 16 Nepali climbing guides. The two devasting days have gone down in history.

What Percentage of Climbers Survive Everest?

The death rate from climbing Mount Everest in the last 30 years sits at about 1%. The percentage of deaths to successful attempts is around 4%. So, all in all, your chances of dying while climbing the mountain are slim; however, that’s only the case if you are properly prepared and climbing with a professional guide. Not to mention, when things go wrong, they go very wrong. It would be a mistake to conclude that summiting Everest is a walk in the park because of the low death rate.

How Many Dead Bodies Are on Mount Everest?

It’s not uncommon to walk over frozen bodies while summitting Mount Everest. Along the mountain, the climbing community believes there are around 200 bodies–some along popular routes, others lost forever. But why aren’t they being removed?

Recovering bodies is risky and expensive. Once you get into the mountain’s highest section, referred to as the death zone (see more below), bodies quickly freeze into the mountain. The task is far too demanding, and good weather conditions only last for so long.

Do More People Die Climbing or Descending Everest?

In general, more accidents happen on descents rather than ascents. That’s because climbers are already exhausted and complacent, and the chances of bad weather are higher. But Mount Everest may be breaking this rule.

A large study looked at all the climbs up to 2006 and verified that more than half of the deaths happened during the descent. However, new claims are being made that ascending is now responsible for a majority of the fatalities (an updated study has yet to be published).

Getting to the top of Mount Everest takes about six weeks as people have to acclimate to the high altitude. That’s a long time for accidents to happen. On the other hand, descending from the summit to base camp only takes a couple of days. But no matter if you’re going up or down, extreme caution needs to be taken.

What Kills Most Climbers on Everest?

The most common causes of death on Mount Everest are acute mountain sickness, falls, avalanches, exhaustion, crevasses, exposure, and hypothermia. Long list, right? Well, when you’re climbing above 8,000 meters, a lot can go wrong.

Acute mountain sickness and exhaustion are believed to be the leading causes of death on the mountain. The high altitude can lead to cardiac arrests and strokes, and minor injuries can become a death sentence. Additionally, when climbers aren’t feeling well or are extremely fatigued, errors are more likely to occur.

How Long Can You Survive in the Death Zone?

The death zone refers to the section of the mountain above 8,000 meters. In this zone, oxygen pressure is extremely low, and humans are unable to stay for long without having a supply of oxygen. Experts don’t recommend anyone stay in the death zone for more than 16 to 20 hours.

Oxygen isn’t the only thing you have to worry about.

At the highest part of the mountain, climbers are highly exposed, leading to frostbite and snow blindness. Summiting is also the most strenuous section, which means the chances of accidents are at an all-time high.

So, if you do climb Mount Everest, be prepared for the death zone.

How Does Everest’s Death Rate Compare to Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro is about 3,000 meters shorter than Mount Everest. But how does the death rate match up? Well, the good news is that Kilimanjaro’s death rate is only .03%. So, of the 30,000 people who climb the mountain each year, around ten people die. The leading case of death is typically altitude sickness, preexisting health conditions, or falls.

Hiking to the top of Kilimanjaro with a reputable company like Climbing Kilimanjaro is the best way to ensure you summit safely. Professional guides will be there every step of the way and monitor the condition of each hiker. The mountain is a wonderful and safe option for anyone interested in taking on a mountain that’s almost 6,000 meters!