There is something alluring about the tallest mountain Everest. From the up, it looks like an alien terrain (a silent pale landscape of white and black rock rising in a rough sequence of sheer cliffs.) But we often forget that Mount Everest is also home to something else – The Death Zone. It’s made even more dramatic by the knowledge that you can’t stay here longer, or you’ll die. The death zone is located at an elevation above 26,000 feet. The air is very thin at this elevation, so mountaineers struggle to keep themselves alive here. But how long can humans survive in the Death Zone of Everest?
It turns to the answer to this question is more complex. So in this article, we will dive more into what Death Zone is and why it can be so dangerous for the Mountainersv aiming to summit Everest. We will likewise explore how long our body can last at an 8000 m or more altitude. So continue to read more about the tallest mountain’s-danger zone and whether there’s any way we can survive it or not.
What Is the Death Zone on Mount Everest?
Have you ever thought about what it is like to climb the tall mountain of the world, Everest? It is above the Himalayan mountains, at the tallest height of 8,848 meters (29,032 feet) above sea level. But only experienced mountaineers know how hard life is at such high altitudes because of its challenging terrain and extremely harsh weather.
So what exactly is a death zone?
Simply put, it is the scariest region of Everest, and as the name suggests staying there for too long can cause death too. The death zone’s altitude in Everest ranges between 8000 m and 8848 m and is the actual part where most deaths occur. This being said, around 200+ climbers died here. At this elevation, there is a low oxygen level with the availability of only one-third of the normal oxygen level. The bodies around the Death Zone are a constant reminder of the reality of why this section is the scariest part of Everest.
The air pressure around this zone is so low that even experienced climbers have difficulty breathing, which even causes altitude sickness. So all climbers should not attempt past this point without the proper acclimatization or supplemental oxygen – as staying too long in this zone can lead to death. Apart from its high altitude and dangers, there are so many facts that mountaineers should research. Everest death zone’s facts and information will help the mountains prepare for their journey and strengthen them to face their fears in Everest.
The Brutal Conditions of the Death Zone
Until now, you may have thought that Climbing Everest is very challenging, but you’ll be in a bigger shock if you reach its death zone. Above 8000m, the air here becomes so thin that it’s tough for the human body to adapt. So you must bring all your supplies, like oxygen, water, food, etc., to save yourself.
The brutal condition of the Death Zone can be described as some of the most extreme on Earth. The temperature here can reach -60 degrees Celsius (-76 F), and winds exceed 80 MPH. Likewise, oxygen levels in this zone can drop dangerously low- much low as 33% at certain points- and this low-level oxygen can cause hypoxia and extreme altitude sickness. The atmospheric pressure is one-third of what it usually is at sea level, so mountainers must have supplemental oxygen to stay conscious.
Similarly, sleep is nearly impossible, any higher than 8,000 meters on Everest. All these conditions make remaining in the death zone for a long period extremely difficult.
So mountainers should include rapid ascents, followed by rapid descents while summiting Everest.
How Long Can Humans Survive in the Death Zone?
For those who have just heard about it, the death zone may sound like something from a sci-fi movie. But there is a real place called Death Zone on Everest that you can visit – if you survive it. So how long can a human survive in this Death Zone? This may feel uncomfortable to the heart, but not very long. The human body in the Death Zone simply does not have the quality to resist the harsh conditions it has.
Experienced mountaineers can stay in this zone for around 16-20 hours. But this does not mean that shorter stays here are not deadly. In addition, it’s estimated that Death Zone climbers can last about 8-10 hours – due to oxygen deprivation and extreme cold temperatures. You are between 26,000 and 28,000 feet above sea level during these estimated hours, and beyond that, your risk of danger is very high.
As we said, the air pressure in the death zone is about a third of what it usually is at sea level. Simply put, less oxygen is available here for your body to function and survive. If the oxygen saturation in your blood drops below 65 percent (which may happen quickly), your organ will struggle to operate due to insufficient oxygen. So even a short period here can feel like you have spent a lifetime here.
Extreme Cold Temperatures:-
The extreme cold and unpredictable temperature in the death zone also makes the human body challenging to survive for more than 16-20 hours. Similarly, there is a high chance of getting hypothermia or frostbite due to its cold temperature. Sometimes, climbers have tried to summit Everest without supplemental oxygen tanks. It looks like climbing Mount Everest is simply not enough for them. Many climbs here have been known to freeze when their acclimatization or oxygen has failed them.
So if you are planning the Everest summit expedition or any other 8000m peaks, think twice about staying longer than 16-20 hours. And If you want to increase your survival in this zone, staying here for shorter periods is best.
The Potential Dangers of Mountaineering in the Death Zone
Every climber summiting Everest should know the potential dangers of the Death Zone. After all, this is the same place where 200-plus climbers have died, as your body needs to work extra hard here to survive. Various dangers decrease your survival rate in Everest’s death zone. One of its main dangers is a lack of oxygen, as the air around this place is very thin.
Climbers’ bodies may go through a lot of physical and mental stress at extreme elevations like this one. The air around these places makes even the simple task like walking a marathon here. Due to a lack of oxygen, your body must deal with acute mountain sickness, hypothermia, and extreme dehydration.
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) is a life-threatening altitude sickness that can occur if one stays in the Death zone for too long. It is a condition where fluids reach the brain and causes swelling. HACE is usually seen among the mountaineers who ascend higher than EBC, like to the Death zone, and require immediate assistance. However, mountaineers can prevent HACE by keeping themselves hydrated, taking a supplement of oxygen, and wearing appropriate clothing at high altitudes.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) is another fatal condition like HACE, but the only difference is that it affects the lungs instead of the brain. This is a condition where your lung’s capillaries leak s and cause fluids get accumulate in the lungs. HPE likewise develops due to the low oxygen level in the Death zone.
Some symptoms to identify HAPE are dyspnea, dry cough, and cough with exertion.
Climbing Everest has risks for mountaineers, but they can be reduced with the proper preparation and equipment. Before setting out for the summit, familiarize yourself with the dangers of the death zone.
Climbing Everest: Do the Rewards Outweigh the Risks?
After knowing abt the death zone, brings us to the next big question before the summit- Is Climbing Everest with it or not?
Climbing Everest is indeed a dangerous expedition. As discussed above, even reaching death is a feat in itself. Death zone characterized by low air pressure and temperature is hard to tackle but not impossible. Many climbs have crossed the death zone, reached the summit, and returned safely with proper preparation and acclimatization. But there may be other potential dangers, like an avalanche or storm. If some mountainous get injured or sick, it’s very difficult to help them at such high altitudes.
Likewise, Crevasses are another risk factor if climbing Mount Everest. These are the cracks in the glacial ice that mountaineers may encounter during their expedition. To cross Crevasses, all members are tied with a fixed rope as it helps to rescue mountaineers if they fall between these cracks.
On climbing Everest, you may experience headaches, diarrhea, coughing, hypothermia, weight loss, etc. But despite all this, many mountainers still can’t resist climbing the Mountain of Everest. We may think these are all not worth it just to reach the peak, but mountaineers believe differently. They think the incredible sense of accomplishment they’ll get once they reach the top is worth more than anything else.
Even now, dozens of people worldwide at the Everest Base Camp may be planning to confute their journey to reach the tallest mountain’s peak. Different mountains have different reasons to reach the top. Still, one reason similar among many mountaineers is the lifelong dream that encourages them to endure all the difficulties, intense preparation, and a deep sense of admiration.
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Preparations for Ascending to the Death Zone
If climbing Everest needs preparation, so does staying in the Death Zone. After all, it’s quite a dangerous location with incredibly low oxygen levels.
Climbing Everest must include acclimatization, where you spend many days at different altitudes (sometimes high and sometimes low). This helps your body to adapt to the environment while climbing. The acclimation process can range from a few weeks to months too. Within this time, you will spend many nights at base camps.
Oxygen and Equipment
With proper acclimatization, ensure you have enough oxygen tanks and supplies to cross the death zone and reach the Summit. Similarly, equip yourself with high-quality equipment to withstand cold and harsh temperatures, which can dip below minus 50 degrees Celsius here.
In short, the death zone of Everest can be a dangerous place to stay for an extended period. Even today, climbers with advanced mountaineers’ equipment can only stay here for a short time, and if some do, they put themself at greater risk.