South Col Route

The South Col route is one to be taken very seriously as unlike most of the routes its fatality rate is far greater with a current total sitting at 17. This extraordinary amount can be greatly contributed to the geology of this specific route as well as other features such as rock fall, exposure, avalanches and icefall. Some of the worst years to take place during an ascent of Mount Everest were in 1993 where, eight out of 129 mountaineers were unfortunately killed bringing a ratio of 16:1. And In 1996 and 1998 where 15 came to their fatal end resulting in a ratio of 6.5:1.

Everest has one of the most extreme altitudes and weather; thus there is only a small window of opportunity for climbing safely. This is normally done during the months of May and October which fall between the summer monsoons and the winter snows. The South Col route to this day is a very popular route to take especially for the first-time “Everesters” as the probability of reaching the summit is greatly increased. However with the previous stats mentioned it does somehow concern you that maybe the safety aspect is taken a little too lightly.

Spring of this year will see expeditions being taken up the South Col Route as well as the North Ridge. A great advantage however to the South Col Route is the comparably shorter time needed to reach the summit. This can be done generally in one push with exposure to the elements greatly decreased unlike the North Ridge which will see you spending at least one night on the slopes as you attempt to summit Everest. Mountaineers normally find themselves sitting on the South Col which refers to the position between the Lhotse face and Mount Everest - this being the last camp position before reaching the top of Everest.

There are some interesting facts: the first ascent along the South Col Route was that of Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal, to this day no one knows for sure who reached the summit first and this information will possibly remain with them forever. It was in 1978 that the first oxygen-less climb would be made; it had seemed an impossible feat but with determination of Reinhold Messner from Italy and Peter Habler from Australia this was accomplished.


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