Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. It looms 8,848 meters above sea level and sits directly on the border of Tibet and Nepal. There are two commonly climbed routes up the mountain, the South Col Route and the Northeast Ridge.
In 2021 only the route from the South will be climbed due to China closing the North Route for Covid reasons.
THE SOUTH COL ROUTE
Teams start in Kathmandu and fly into Nepal’s Khumbu Valley where they trek to 17,300’ South Side Base Camp over a number of days to acclimatize. The Khumbu is incredibly beautiful and provides the opportunity to really experience Sherpa culture.
Once at Base Camp teams climb through the Khumbu ice fall, up the Western Cwm, the Lhotse Face, the South Col, South Summit, the Hillary Step and on to the Summit.
Typically teams establish three camps on this route. These are Camp 2 at 21,500’, Camp 3 at 23,500’ and high camp at the South Col at 26,300’.
Some teams use a low camp, Camp 1 at 19,500’ just above the Khumbu Icefall, to acclimatize as well.
THE NORTHEAST RIDGE ROUTE
As the name implies, this route is on the North side of the mountain in Tibet.
On the Northeast Ridge Route, teams typically establish an Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 21,000’ then 3 primitive camps above that. The terrain between EBC (Everest Base Camp) and ABC is flat glacier covered in scree and gravel. It’s quite beautiful with large waves of glacial ice on the fringes of the dirt. The mellow grade of the terrain makes it easy to porter and yak gear back and forth between EBC and ABC, so ABC is usually stocked with a cook tents, dining tents, sleeping tents and lounges.
Above ABC is where the climbing and fixed lines begin. First camp is often made at the North Col (the col between Everest and Changtse) at 7,000m (23,000’).
Camp 2 is established at 7,800m on the rocky ridge between the North Col and the NE Ridge. It’s a barren camp, with tiny platforms of piled rocks just big enough for tents.
Camp 3 is the high camp at 8,300m. It is on a broad, steep, rocky face just below the NE ridge. It’s mostly devoid of snow and the slope is steep so it is difficult to pile rocks high enough to create a level platform the full size of a tent. Therefore the platforms end up only being wide enough for about 2/3s of a tent- the rest just hangs down the slope.