The Deadly Side of Everest

To start any article on climbing deaths, it must be said that everydeath is devastating to family and friends and should never be takenlightly. I have helped bury climbing partners on high peaks and neverwish that experience on anyone.

Sadly, mountaineering often receives mainstream media attention onlywhen someone dies and especially on Everest. This was never more truethan during the 1996 season when eight people were killed in a storm andthen in 2006 when another 12 died while climbing. According to EberhardJurgalski's 8000ers.com website, there have been about 4,024 summits since 1922 with 218 deaths, or a 5.4% fatality rate.

Since 1990, the deaths have dropped to 4.4% due to better gear,weather forecasting and the availability of more rescue resourcesdue to an increase of climbers on the mountain. In 2009, about 281 people made itfrom the south and 60 from the north. There were five deaths. A record 500people summited in 2007 evenly split between both sides, again with fivedeaths.

I wanted to examine the true statistics behind Everest in the past decade and looked to 8000ers.comfor some facts. Based on Jurglaski's tables, the north side fatality rate ismore than 2:1 over the south, with falls, altitude issues and exhaustionnoted as the primary reasons. The difference is even more extreme whenthe deaths of nine south side Sherpas are taken from the total, making theratio of "member or client" climber deaths from north to south 8:1.Here is the summary:

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