Everest South Col Overview
Everest South Col is the most popular route for ambitious climbers looking to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
The Everest South Col route is considered a slightly more dangerous route due to the instability of the Khumbu Icefall. However, it is also an easier route when compared to the North Side as it requires less steep rock climbing and more shelter from the wind. This is why it is favoured by so many.
Quick Facts about Everest South Col
- The fastest ascent of Everest South Side was completed by Lakpa Gelu Sherpa in 2003. He reached the summit and did a round-trip in 18 hours, 20 minutes.
- Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first climbers to reach the summit of Everest. They travelled from the South Side in 1953.
- The youngest person to reach the summit of Everest was Jordan Romero, who was 13 years old at the time.
History of Everest South Col
The Everest South Col route in Nepal is famous for being the route traversed by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay when they summited Everest for the first time on May 29th 1953.
There have been several other famous routes on Everest South Col, including the Bonington Route which was first climbed by Chris Bonington in 1975. Alongside this, the West Pillar was first climbed in 1982 by a Russian expedition, which included Eduard Myslovski and Volodya Balyberdin.
The South Pillar is another popular and relatively safe route which was first climbed in 1980 by Polish climbers Jerzy Kukuczka and Andrzej Czok.
Experience Required for Climbing Everest South Col
While Everest South is considered an easier route compared to the North Route (as it’s sheltered from the wind), it’s still a very challenging climb.
The final camp is at 8,000m, resulting in a longer and more strenuous summit day, and the overall ascent from base camp is longer so it requires more stamina.
Make no mistake, climbing Everest South is very difficult and requires intermediate to advanced mountaineering skills, broad experience and intense training.
Main Routes at Everest South Col
The South-Eastern Ridge via the South Col is the most popular route on Everest. You will climb from Base Camp, through the Khumbu icefall to Camp 1. The route then continues up the Western CWM to Camp 2 - also known as Advanced Base Camp (ABC). This is the staging point for the Summit push. After Camp 2, it is straight up the Lhotse Face to Camp 3. From Camp 3 you continue up the remainder of the Lhotse Face to the Yellow Band and Geneva Spur, finally leading you to the South Col (saddle) where Camp 4 is located. It is normal to rest here for a few hours and then begin your ‘Summit Day’ which can be anywhere from 7 to 12 hours (or even longer depending on many factors).
The Southwest Face is also a popular choice amongst climbers; there are two potential routes to consider here, both of which are very difficult and require climbing at extreme altitude (the Bonington Route and the West Pillar route).
The South Pillar route is considered safe by comparison, although many people taking on this route prefer to traverse across the South-Eastern ridge lower down rather than navigating the difficult rock barriers towards the top of this route.
Useful information about Everest South Col
Weather: During April and May, the weather is warmer but cloudier; later in the year, there is less heat haze and clearer views, but the temperature can be crisper.
Peak Climbing Season: April-May, September-October
Summit Window: Based on historical data, the most common day of the year to summit is May 11th. The jetstream which blasts into the summit for most of the year moves away just before Monsoon season arrives. This creates a clear weather window of around 12 days. There is also a short Autumn window similar to this.
Average Expedition Length: 50-60 Days
Accepted Currencies: Nepalese Rupee (official), USD, EUR (accepted)
How to Get to Everest South Col
Your travel route will vary depending on the expedition you choose. Please refer to individual guides expeditions for more information.
The most common route to follow when approaching Mount Everest from the south involves following a trek from Lukla Airport. You will head down the Khumbu Valley via Lobuche to Everest Base Camp. You’ll find that the majority of Everest South Col expeditions will begin this way.
Everest South Col - Equipment List
This is an overall recommendation. Please check with your guide for their specific recommendations
- Ice Axe w/Leash
- Alpine climbing harness
- Carabiners (3) Locking; (3) Regular
- Climbing helmet
- Rappel/Belay device
- Adjustable 3 Section Ski or Trekking poles
- Light hiking boots or trekking shoes.
- Camp Boots. Optional. Insulated boot for Base Camp.
- Double Plastic Climbing Boots w/ altitude liners.
- Fully Insulated Overboots.
- Trekking Socks. 3 pair.
- Wool or Synthetic Socks. 4 pair.
- Liner Socks. 4
- Lightweight Long Underwear. 2-3 pair tops & bottoms,
- Heavyweight Long Underwear. 1 pair.
- Lightweight Nylon Pants. 1 -2 pairs.
- Short Sleeve Synthetic Shirt. 1-2 pairs.
- Synthetic/Soft Shell Jacket.
- Insulated Synthetic Pants.
- Down Pants.
- Expedition Down Parka..
- Insulated Synthetic Jacket
- Hard Shell jacket w/ hood.
- Hard Shell Pants.
- Lightweight Synthetic gloves. 1 pair.
- Heavyweight Synthetic/Soft Shell gloves. 1 pair.
- Expedition Shell Gloves w/ insulated removable liners. 1 pair.
- Expedition Shell Mitts. 1 pair.
- Hand warmers and Toe Warmers: Bring 3 sets of each.
- Headlamp. Bring plenty of spare bulbs & batteries.
- Glacier glasses
- Baseball cap/sun hat.
- Ski Goggles
- Balaclava. (1) Heavyweight, (1) Lightweight. Heavyweight must fit over lightweight
- Warm synthetic/wool hat.
- Bandanas (2). Used to shade your neck.
- Neoprene face mask. Optional
- Expedition Backpack. 3,500 - 4,000 cu. in. There are many great packs.
- Trekking Backpack. 2,000 - 2,500 cu. in. (Optional)
- Sleeping Bag. (Expedition quality rated to at least -40°F).
- Sleeping Bag. (Expedition quality rated to at least -20°F). A second bag for Base Camp.
- Self Inflating pads(2). Two 3/4 or full length pads.
- Closed-Cell foam pad. used in combination with your self inflating pad.
- Cooking Gear: Cup: 16oz. plastic insulated mug with snap-on lid
- Sunscreen. SPF 40 or better
- Lipscreen. SPF 20 or better, at least 2 sticks.
- Water Bottles: 2 to 3
- Water Bottle parkas for the big bottles.
- Toiletry bag. Include toilet paper, hand sanitizer and small towel (as well as tooth brush,
- tooth paste etc.)
- Pee Bottle (1 Liter). Large mouth, clearly marked water bottle for use in tent.
- Camp Knife or Multi Tool.
- Thermos. 1 Liter capacity.
- Camera gear. Optional.
- Compression Stuff Sacks. Especially for sleeping bags and clothing.
- Small personal first-aid kit
- Digital camera and video camera
- Wristwatch with altimeter/barometer
- GPS receiver
- Plenty of water or hot tea in an insulated bottle; energy snacks
- Sun-screen, SPF chap stick, sunglasses/goggles
- Pocket knife (or Leatherman-style multi-tool)
- Head lamp
- Cell phone
- Climbing gear, trekking poles, etc.
- Hand-held radio for on-mountain communication
- Have a plan and let others know where you are going
- Don’t go alone – always have a field partner for safety