How Climbing Mount Everest Works

Training to Climb Mount Everest

A Sherpa memorial cairn with prayer flags.
Image courtesy Sheila Kavanagh, Seven Summits

Prospective Everest climbers train in a variety of ways. Swimming, running, biking, weight lifting and climbing are all excellent ways to improve physical condition. Endurance, stamina, and strength are all necessary. In anticipation of weight loss on Everest, most prospective climbers try to gain a little weight before their trip.

Although Everest does not require the technical climbing skills of some shorter mountains, a thorough grounding in climbing techniques is important before attempting it. Because of the extreme conditions and unpredictable nature of Everest, even the most experienced mountaineers can get into trouble.


Today, more people than ever are attempting to climb Mount Everest, but only about one in four will succeed. There are an estimated 120 bodies still on Everest; while many have been respectfully relocated, it is too difficult and dangerous to attempt to remove all of them.

Given the expense, the risk, and discomfort, why do people climb Everest? In the early 20th century, when George Mallory was planning his expedition, explorers had reached both the North Pole and South Pole and there was a passion for new frontiers. Everest, the so-called "third pole," represented a new and interesting challenge.

Although more people are climbing Everest, neither modern equipment nor professional expertise can eliminate the challenge or the inherent difficulties. Paying for a fully guided trip does not guarantee success, nor does extensive experience eliminate risk. Climbing Mount Everest remains, to this day, a daunting and formidable challenge as climbers continue to push the envelope of human endurance and strength of will.

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