The Peak Of Heaven: Amazing Facts About Mount Everest

Mount Everest is an incredible force of nature that always seems to wow. The Sanskrit name for the mountain literally means “Peak of Heaven.” Some facts about Everest are pretty well documented, and some are less well known, but they are all super interesting. You’ve probably seen films and documentaries on Mount Everest, but how much do you know about this iconic mountain?

Take a look at these amazing facts about Mount Everest to power up your trivia knowledge and give you a new perspective on one of the most famous mountains on Earth.

It’s not the tallest mountain on Earth

This is the majesty of Mount Everest
Sarah LAI/AFP/Getty Images
Sarah LAI/AFP/Getty Images

We know, right?! Well, this one is much disputed and kind of depends on what you count as the “tallest.” Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth if we’re talking feet above sea level. However, there is another whopper of a mountain that claims to be the tallest too. Awkward!

That mountain would be Mauna Kea, a huge volcano in Hawaii that is, in fact, the world’s tallest mountain when measured from its base to its summit. The jury’s out on this one though…

Read on for the mystery of who climbed the mountain first.

One Man Has Climbed Everest 22 Times

Kami Rita Sherpa is pictured during an interview as he talks about his attempt to summit Mount Everest for the 22nd time
Milan Adhikari/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Milan Adhikari/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Kami Rita Sherpa has climbed Everest a total of 24 times, beating his own world records. He is a Nepali-Sherpa guide from a mountaineering family. His brother is also a guide and has climbed Mount Everest 17 times.

Interestingly, his father was one of the first guides to take tourists up Mount Everest when it was initially opened to tourists. Kami Rita notes that his fame and recognition has enabled him to give his children a better life, whereas originally he climbed the mountain as a means to “eke out a living,” he told journalists.

You Need To Ask Permission To Climb Everest

Trekkers walk along a path at the Everest region
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

Many people don’t know that in order to climb Mount Everest you actually need to attend a ceremony to be blessed by the gods.

If you’ve ever seen images of flags on Everest and wondered what they are, they are prayer flags that are placed there for protection. All mountaineers are required to ask for safe passage before they embark on their climb. The Puja ceremony, as it is known, is held in Base Camp before the climb and must not be missed. It’s an age-old tradition that is thought to bring good luck.

Next: the youngest person to climb the mountain.

A 13 Year Old Is The Youngest Person To Climb Everest

A teenager named Jordan Romero smiles
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

Thirteen-year-old Jordan Romero is the youngest mountain climber ever to make it up Everest. He has also completed the Seven Summits Challenge which saw him tackle the highest mountains on each continent.

He had to take Everest from the Tibetan side, which is much more difficult, as he couldn’t get a permit to go up via Nepal because he was deemed too young. The native Californian relished in proving people wrong, and now spends time encouraging other kids to find their own Everest and tackle it — whatever that may be.

Who is the oldest climber?

The Eldest Was An 80 Year Old

At 70 years old Japnaese skier Yuichrio Miura became the oldest man to summit the Mt Everest
KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images
KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

The oldest climber to take on Mount Everest is Yuichiro Miura from Japan, who climbed the mountain in 2013 at the age of 80. Amazingly, he had two heart surgeries prior to this, but was determined to beat his own record which he set in 2003 at the age of 70.

Unfortunately, the oldest man title has been attempted by other climbers unsuccessfully, such as was the case with 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan. The Nepalese man sadly died while trying to take the title, even though he had climbed the mountain in his younger years.

Solar Energy Is Harvested On Everest

solar energy
Heath Holden/Getty Images
Heath Holden/Getty Images

The sun’s energy is used on Everest, where there is no electricity or resources. A dish like this will take around an hour to heat water to the boiling point, which can be essential in cold temperatures.

Surprisingly, Mount Everest is a great place to harvest solar energy. This is due to the way the crystalline silicon-based photovoltaic cells in solar panels behave at low temperatures and high altitudes. Solar energy requires barely any maintenance and works well on Everest where there is high sun exposure.

Coming up, meet someone who climbed Everest twice in less than a week!

Pre-acclimatisation is becoming popular

This is  hypoxic rowing training, in preparation for an attempt to summit Mount Everest,
ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images
ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images

People have to train for months at high altitudes if they are going to tackle Mount Everest safely, however, new technology has offered a solution to that. It has divided the mountaineering community who are torn between wanting to better the sport and wanting to keep it traditional.

Pre-acclimatization allows climbers to exercise in tough conditions that are similar to those of Everest. The jury’s out as to whether it works as well as climbing at a high altitude, but the technology is becoming more and more popular as people try to fit training into their busy lives.

A Woman Has Scaled Everest Twice in 5 Days

Anshu Jamsenpa (age 37), is being welcomed by school students at her arrival at Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International
Rajib Jyoti Sarma/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Rajib Jyoti Sarma/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Anshu Jamsenpa, a 37-year-old Indian woman, holds the record for the fastest double ascent of any woman in a five day period. The fitness levels and determination needed to scale Everest once are unbelievable, let alone twice in that short time!

Anshu has climbed Everest a total of five times, but the record breaker was when she did two climbs back-to-back in five days. This beat a record set by Chhurim Sherpa who had previously done it twice in seven days.

The Mystery Of Who Climbed Everest First

This is an enhanced overhead map of Mount Everest
maps4media via Getty Images
maps4media via Getty Images

Many of us know that the first recorded completion of Mount Everest was in 1953. Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountaineer, and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali-Indian mountaineer, climbed the peak and became the first in history to do so.

But were they really the first? In 1924 George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine, two British men, decided to make the climb. Although their ascent was well documented and they were able to make great progress, they went missing. Mallory’s body was found in 1999, however, his partner Irvine was not. It’s thought that Irvine was in possession of a camera which could change mountaineering history. It is yet to be found though…

A Double Amputee Has Conquered Everest

A climber is given medical attention
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

One Chinese double amputee named Xia Boyu has conquered Mount Everest with no legs. Sadly, he lost both of his legs when he first attempted Everest nearly four decades ago. He climbed with 30 climbers, at the age of 69, to make the trip up the mountain that had taken his legs from him years earlier.

After being hit by frostbite on Everest years before, Xia was determined to make it up in his lifetime. Among the 30 climbers he traveled up with were an Australian record setter and a man who was paralyzed in an accident.

The Climate Is Extreme

This is the majesty of Mount Everest
Sarah LAI/AFP/Getty Images
Sarah LAI/AFP/Getty Images

This is to be expected from such an incredible landscape, however, many underestimate just how extreme the conditions can be. In fact, the Himalayas where Mount Everest is located is is home to the third largest concentration of ice in the world after the poles.

It’s not just the deathly cold temperatures that are extreme though, it’s the wind that gets to people. While the sun shines during the day, the evenings nearly always drop well below freezing and with a harsh wind it can often prove fatal for climbers.

There Are Dead Bodies On Everest

Mount Everest is reflected in a man's sunglasses
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

Climbing Everest is a crazy achievement and one that is not to be attempted by anyone without the proper training. However, often due to lack of training, underlying conditions and weather conditions, people do die while trying to climb Everest.

As a result, there are a number of dead bodies on the way to the summit. They are often left there and covered, due to the difficulty of carrying them down the mountain. In high altitudes it is hard enough to get yourself down the mountain, let alone another body. It’s estimated that over 300 people have died on Everest.

Coming up: reaching the top is no guarantee of survival.

There Is Such A Thing As The Death Zone

Lines of ladders are seen on the face of Mount Everest
PHUNJO LAMA/AFP/Getty Images
PHUNJO LAMA/AFP/Getty Images

It’s true, the death zone gets its name because it’s the place where you are most likely to die when climbing Everest. The actual zone is everything located 8,000m above sea level on the way to the summit.

During this period, your body is actually dying while you make the final ascent. It’s crucial not to waste time here. A lack of oxygen means that the body’s cells start to die off, so getting back down to a lower altitude is essential.

1 In 10 Successful Summits End In Death

Mountaineers prepare to climb Mt. Everest
PHUNJO LAMA/AFP/Getty Images
PHUNJO LAMA/AFP/Getty Images

Making the summit is a rare achievement, however, that’s not where the risk of death stops. Even when people have reached the summit, their risk of death is high.

The body is so exhausted, and with a lack of oxygen in the high altitude it can be a really dangerous time. In the last couple of weeks climbers have complained that the lines up to the summit and back down have caused multiple deaths as people struggle to cope in the low oxygen environment.

In 2014 There Was An Earthquake

Two hikers climb Mt. Everest
Heath Holden/Getty Images
Heath Holden/Getty Images

Earthquakes in any country on any continent can be really bad, however, on Everest an earthquake can mean sudden death. Avalanches aren’t particularly common, but when they strike they cause devastation. In 2014 there was an earthquake that caused an extreme avalanche.

As a result of the 7.8 earthquake, debris, ice, and rock came crashing down the walking track. It killed over 18 people and left many more injured. This is regarded as the biggest tragedy Everest has ever seen due to the number of people who lost their lives in one hit.

The Locals Can Deal With The Climate More Effectively

Tourism Industry Continues To Struggle In Khumbu Region Of Nepal Almost Two Years Since Devastating Earthquake
Heath Holden/Getty Images
Heath Holden/Getty Images

Nepalese mountain people are known as Sherpas and they have evolved to have amazing stamina and a genetic advantage when climbing at high altitude. While most people really struggle at high altitude, with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, and fainting, the Sherpas are able to use the oxygen they get from the atmosphere more efficiently than others can.

The majority of guides are Sherpas and many have been climbing the mountains for generations. Tourism is a big part of trade for the local people, so those who are able to take tours will often try to get their license as it can be a good earner.

Yaks Are Used To Transport Supplies

Tourism Industry Continues To Struggle In Khumbu Region Of Nepal Almost Two Years Since Devastating Earthquake
Heath Holden/Getty Images
Heath Holden/Getty Images

Yaks, known as Dzopkio / Zopkio animals, carry supplies along the trails to provide climbers with the essential life-giving sustenance they need. The yaks also play a big role in helping the locals live on the mountain as they offer a means of transport from one village to another in tough conditions.

Mountain workers use yaks to keep climbers safe and make tourists as comfortable as possible as they try to scale Everest. It takes 10 days just to get to the Everest base camp, so using animals to help carry supplies is an essential part of life for the locals.

Next: how old is Mount Everest?

Everest Is 55 Million Years Old

Everest is seen at dusk
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

Mount Everest has been around for millions of years and is thought to have formed when the continental shuffle occurred and the Earth started to look like it does now.

Around 250 million years ago Pangea represented a collection of the continents that were not separated. Events under the Earth’s surface caused the continents to separate and years later the Indian tectonic plate moved towards the Euro Asian plate with a force that created an uprising of mountains — the Himalayas. That same force created Mount Everest.

It Was Named After A Man

Climbers hike up Everest in Nepal
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images
PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

Although Everest has been around for many years, it didn’t always have the name that it does now. In 1856 the mountain was named after the British surveyor George Everest.

Before this, it was known simply as Peak XV by the British. The Tibetans had their own name for it, Homolungma, and the Nepalese called it Sagarmatha. Rumor has it that George Everest was rather embarrassed by the enormous honor.

A Couple Got Married On Everest

A newly married couple waves from the summit of Everest
The Nepal Sanctuary
The Nepal Sanctuary

In 2005 a Nepalese couple got married at the summit of Everest, making history as the first couple to ever tie the knot on the mountain. The main reason that no one has attempted it previously is the danger attached to it — staying in the death zone longer than is necessary is not recommended.

They stayed on the peak for 10 minutes to conduct their secret wedding, before both making it down to the bottom safely. Sherpas Pem Dorjee and Moni Mulepati now live and work in the United States, and Pem has appeared in Ted Talks to chat about his challenge.