Graveyard Shift

14 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Die On Mount Everest 

Laura Allan
Updated June 17, 2020 681.4k views 14 items

Mount Everest, with its skyscraping heights, bitterly cold temperatures, and extreme weather, has claimed hundreds of lives. Mount Everest deaths are hardly uncommon, but people still climb the fearsome peak in hopes of reaching the summit. Those who prefer to remain at sea level might wonder what it's like to die on Mount Everest, as morbid as that thought is. Does it involve falling to your demise? Or perhaps getting buried by an avalanche? One thing is certain: Dying while climbing Mount Everest is horrifying.

Dying on Mount Everest would certainly be a unique way to go. It's even more over-the-top than falling from a cruise ship or getting swallowed by an anaconda. Unlike those rare instances, fatalities on the mountain happen every year - there are plenty of corpses on Mount Everest to prove it.

Please be warned that this list contains images of dead bodies on Mount Everest. The descriptions are also pretty grim, so if you've ever thought about climbing this massive mountain, what you read may change your mind.

It Probably Won't Be An Avalanche Or Fall That Gets You
It Probably Won't Be An ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 14 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Die On Mount Everest
Photo: Ilan Adler/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.5

Just how likely are you to perish on the tallest mountain in the world? If you decide to climb Everest, the chances of meeting your end are way higher than you'd probably like. Of all the climbers who have attempted to scale the mountain, about 6.5% have perished. Hundreds of people (about 300) have lost their lives there.

While tricky ice navigation, cliffs, and occasional avalanches take out climbers, the No. 1 cause of death is extreme altitude sickness combined with cold and exhaustion. You would likely get too tired, sit down to rest, and simply never get up. The area above 8,000 meters is called the "death zone," because low amounts of oxygen, low temperatures, and chances of bad weather are high there. Most fatalities occur in this zone.

The Weather May Be Horrible
The Weather May Be Horri... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 14 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Die On Mount Everest
Photo:  Naomi-Jam/Pixabay/Pixabay License

Many climbers end up trapped on Everest due to the weather. A storm can drop temperatures, lower visibility to almost nothing, and make navigation down the mountain nearly impossible.

In 1996, one of the worst disasters on Everest occurred. Ignoring weather warnings, three climbers from a six-man team, headed by Tsewang Paljor, attempted to reach the summit. The climbers supposedly made it to the top, but as they tried to get back in the rapidly worsening weather, things got grim fast. None of the climbers were ever seen alive again.

You'll Be Too Exhausted To Move
You'll Be Too Exhausted ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 14 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Die On Mount Everest
Photo: WorldNavigata/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

What exactly happens when you finally start nearing the end? The first thing you'll notice is that you're incredibly exhausted. This makes sense for a few reasons. First of all, the oxygen levels near the top of Mount Everest are very low. Climbers nowadays generally have to use oxygen tanks in order to make it all the way up and back without getting into trouble. These low oxygen levels mean that your brain, heart, and lungs aren't able to work as well as they should, resulting in a feeling of exhaustion because your body begins to break down. There is also an increased risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Every step becomes a struggle, until you simply cannot go on, and need to rest.

The Cold Will Be Painful
The Cold Will Be Painful... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 14 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Die On Mount Everest
Photo:  Wellcome Images/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

Have you ever been so cold that it physically hurts your hands or toes? Imagine that feeling, but all over your body. As you sit on the side of the mountain, the cold will slowly creep in, until your skin is burning with the sensation. Frostbite often brings with it a sensation of heat or searing, which feels more like burning than freezing.

While this feeling does become numbness eventually, you'll first feel pain, then pins and needles. Once you finally feel nothing, you should know the temperature has done serious damage.