How to Train for Everest Base

How to training to climb Mount Everest?

Mt. Everest South Col route

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Mountain Climbing > Mt Everest

Elevation: 29, 035 ft (8, 850m)
Location: Nepal

Mt. Everest (also known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Chomolungma in Tibet) is the highest peak on earth, one of only 14 coveted peaks over 8000m. More than 4, 000 ascents to the summit have been made by over 3, 000 people as of 2009. In 2009, Body Results client Adam Geist, climbing with Alpine Ascents International, added his name to the growing list. A podcast of his experience will be forthcoming later this fall, in addition to training and conditioning tips to help prepare for the climb of all climbs.

Everest Routes

The two main climbing routes on Everest include the technically easier Southeast Ridge from Nepal, and the less frequently-used Northeast Ridge from Tibet. The Southeast Ridge (Nepal) Base Camp is located at 5, 380 m (17, 700 ft) and takes mountaineers roughly 6-8 days to reach on foot with yak and porter support. The Northeast Ridge (Tibet) Base Camp is at 5, 180 m (16, 990 ft) on a gravel plain below the Rongbuk Glacier.Mt. Everest north Ridge route While other 8000m peaks may be technically more demanding, the weather, altitude, time required to summit, and difficulties crossing through the Khumbu Ice Fall and over the Hillary Step make even the easiest route on Everest an enormous challenge.

The most common time to try climbing Everest is during April and May when winds die down a bit before summer monsoon season begins. After monsoon season the winds become less predictable and additional snow deposits make climbing extremely challenging. While most Everest climbers don’t carry more than about a 35-pound pack at any time, due to the extreme altitude, frigid conditions, avalanche hazards, and many days of repeated effort to reach the summit, it is one of the most challenging – physically and psychologically - climbing experiences available.

Mt. Everest SummitA typical expedition will last about 2 months. After trekking several days to reach Everest Base Camp the process of gradual acclimatization on Mt Everest will begin. Teams go up and come down from gradually higher and higher camps until they are ready to try for the summit. This acclimatization process can take 4-6 weeks before a summit attempt is made.

Everest Technical Skills

In order to feel comfortable on the varied steep, sometimes rocky, and sometimes icy terrain you will experience on Everest, it is a good idea to include plenty of climbs that involve travel on crampons under all sorts of conditions, and over a wide variety of surfaces, ranging from slush to ice, pea gravel to rock, deep snow to crusty suncups. Be sure you are comfortable with extreme exposure and steep drop offs for long periods of time. Include plenty of technical rock and ice climbing experiences, so you are fairly comfortable following on alpine rock routes and Water Ice Grade 4 (WI4). Be as comfortable with jumars, ascenders, crampons, all your gear, and knot tying as possible, so that use of such gear is ingrained in your memory. With frozen fingers and diminished mental capacity you want all equipment use and technical skills to be as rote as possible. You will also need to be completely proficient with the rest step and pressure breathing so that on summit day you can optimize your oxygen uptake.

High Altitude Progressions

BodyResults WebTrainer client Adam G.
on Mt. Everest Summit, May 23, 2009

click to hear interview with Adam

A great way to get the skills set suggested above, and to see how your both body and mind perform at high altitude, is to experience other lower-altitude expedition-type climbs before hand. A good mountaineering progression for the novice climber aspiring to reach the summit of Everest would be to first tackle a 14, 000 foot glaciated peak such as Mt. Rainier or a technically challenging 14, 000 foot peak in the Rocky Mountains. Next, we...

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