Mind and Body

The 3 "ideal" qualities of a modern-day Mount Everest climber

For more than a century, Mount Everest has captured the imagination of mountaineers eager to test their limits.

At 29,029 feet, it is the highest point above the global mean sea level.

The first full-scale attempts to climb Mount Everest were launched in 1922.

However, the first ascent wasn't made until 1953. That's when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to reach the summit.

Hillary and Norgay after their return from the successful climb.

Per the Himalayan Database, an estimated 295 people have died climbing Everest since 1905.

Meanwhile, roughly 5,294 people have successfully climbed the summit. (This data is as recent as 2019.)

According to a new study, there's an interesting trend going on: In the last 30 years, the success rate of summitting the mountain has doubled.

Meanwhile, the death rate has been constant since 1990; hovering at around 1 percent.

The study team hypothesizes that this increase in success rates could be linked to a number of factors. >>

- Better weather forecasting

- Fixed lines on popular routes

- Increased experience of expedition leaders and high-altitude porters

- More climbers using supplemental oxygen

But what are the qualities of an ideal Mount Everest climber?

Lead author Raymond Huey tells Inverse the definition of the "ideal climber" changes with the climber's goal. That goal is often linked to the era that the climber is living in.

For example, in the early days, the goal was to get at least one member of an expedition to the summit. Then, ideal climbers were also "team players."

In recent years, Huey explains, the goal is simply to get to the summit. Unfortunately, this means that people are often climbing on packed trails.

"It is no longer a few people alone on the mountain."

— Raymond Huey, a professor emeritus of the University of Washington and the study’s lead author

In today's times, Huey thinks the key traits of a Mount Everest climber are:

Being relatively young — somewhere between 25 to "early 40s."

Having prior elevation experience.

"Having the patience to climb in a line with many others."

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