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

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.

Photo: Carsten.nebel / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

  • It Probably Won't Be An Avalanche Or Fall That Gets You

    It Probably Won't Be An Avalanche Or Fall That Gets You
    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

    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 To Move
    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

    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.

  • Your Limbs Will Actually Freeze In Place

    Your Limbs Will Actually Freeze In Place
    Video: YouTube

    When temperatures are as low as they get up on Everest, the liquid in your body can actually freeze. So, as you perish or perhaps shortly after you're gone, you will be unable to move your limbs. Your arms and legs will be the first to become solid, and if you are in a seated or curled position, that is how you will remain even after you succumb to the elements.

    Many of the bodies found on Mount Everest are sitting, curled up, or lying in awkward positions because they froze while still alive. Now, they're trapped forever in their final moment of repose.

  • Your Flesh Will Blacken

    As frostbite starts to impact your body, the main thing you may notice besides the pain is a change in color. Necrosis occurs when your flesh and tissue die while still attached to you, and this happens many times during hypothermia and through frostbite. Your fingers, toes, nose, ears, and any patches of exposed skin will first turn black. After you perish, those parts may fall off or dissolve.

    Survivors of Everest storms and incidents often end up having parts of their hands, toes, and faces removed. Some even end up with snow blindness.