Since climbers Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first reached the summit of Mt. Everest in 1953, more than 4,000 others have attempted to try. With wind speeds clocking in at over 100 miles per hour, the harsh conditions and even harsher statistics haven’t put a stop to the indomitable human spirit. With one climber dying for every 10 successful ascents to the mountain’s summit, hundreds are still continuing to prepare for the climb of a lifetime to the “Death Zone”.
Of the 4,000 people that have attempted to climb, only about 75 of them have been women, but there are more to come. Recently, it was announced that Helen Kinuthia, a Kenyan climber, beat out 150 other competitors to earn a spot scaling Everest as a part of Expedition Everest, a charity climbing expedition planned for 2014. With the climb, Expedition Everest is hoping to raise $500,000 for the Flying Kites Leadership Academy in Kenya, which supports children through education and advocacy. Kinuthia won her spot by climbing Mt. Kenya, Africa’s second-tallest mountain. If Kinuthia succeeds and reaches the top, she will become the first Kenyan and black African woman ever to do so.
Other women record holders include 20 year-old, medical student Becky Bellworthy, who this past May became the youngest British woman to conquer Everest, despite suffering a stroke on her first attempt, just a few months before. In an interview with The Daily Mail, Bellworthy shared, “When you’re on the very extremity of life, you can be surprised at how much fight is left in you. You can overcome anything.”
On the other end of the age spectrum is Tamae Watanabe, a 73-year-old Japanese woman who also this past May, became the oldest woman to climb Mount Everest, breaking her own 10-year-old record, which she set in 2002 at the age of 63.
With the “Death Zone” becoming an icy graveyard, you would think that men and women alike would be deterred by the gloomy statistics and failed attempts, but despite the treacherous challenges, climbers continue to defy the odds to make their determined mark on this mountain and achieve the ultimate feat… reaching the “roof of the world”.
Everest by the Numbers
8,848 meters (29,029 feet): Height at the peak.
60 million years: Approximate age of Mount Everest.
$25,000: Cost of a climbing permit per person.
8,000: Height in meters (approximately 26,000 feet) at Mount Everest’s “death zone,” the low-oxygen area above the last camp and before the summit where conditions become increasingly harsh.
3: Number of countries visible from the summit (Tibet, India, and Nepal).
6: Number of people who have died on the mountain in 2012.
19: Number of people who died in one year – 1996, the deadliest ever on Mount Everest – during a trek chronicled by writer Jon Krakauer in Into Thin Air.
30: Number of minutes before a climber dies after contracting hypothermia on Mount Everest, depending on how fast his or her body temperature drops.
40: Record number of people to successfully reach Everest’s summit in one day (May 10, 1993).
200: Approximate number of total climbers who have died on the peak’s treacherous slopes.
4,000: Approximate number of people who have climbed Mount Everest since Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
13: Age of Jordan Romero, the youngest climber to reach the summit, in May 2010.
76: Age of the oldest climber to reach the summit, Min Bahadur Sherchan, in May 2008.
21: Record number of successful climbs to the summit by Apa Sherpa.