Mt. Everest North Ridge Expedition is the ultimate climb for the highly experienced climber and holds a special appeal to those who have already summited from the South Col and want to conquer another aspect. Most first-time Everest climbers choose the South side, as the physical demands are not as tough and cooperation between expedition teams on South side gives a sense of support. The journey up to the Tibetan Plateau, the remote Tibetan settlements is a completely different experience from the highly commercialized trek through the Khumbu. Even helicopter rescue is not available on the North Side.
Other climbers relish facing the tougher conditions on the North, like colder temperatures, harsher winds and more time spent at over 8000 meters elevation. The North definitely gives more sense of mountain pioneering. There are about half as many climbers on the North Ridge route, which in itself reduces the risk of traffic jams at critical places.
Technically, both sides of Everest are comparable. The North Side has more smooth or loose rocks and more sustained climbing, with a series of steps to negotiate on the way to the summit, whereas the South side has the unstable Khumbu Icefall. It is mostly the elevation that makes the North Ridge more challenging. The camps are at higher elevations, and the summit push necessitates spending at least one night in the top camp at 8400 meters, which results in exposure to extreme altitude for significantly longer than the South Col summit push, which starts out just below 8000 meters.
The North Face Route
Advanced Base Camp to Camp I on the North Col, 7000m – 4 to 6 hours
Leaving ABC we move up scree and rock up to the head of the East Rongbuk Glacier where we put on crampons for the first time. There is about 1km of glacial ice to reach the foot of the North Col. From here we clip into fixed lines which are strung from the head of the glacier right up to the North Col. Rappelling or arm-wrap techniques are used to descend this steep section. There are some steep sections requiring cramponing. Teams will spend several nights at the Col during the expedition. Camp I is on a flat and wind-protected on a low point of the North East Ridge between Everest and Changtse. There are incredible views of Mt. Pumori in Nepal, as well as Lhakpa Ri.
Camp I on the North Col to Camp II, 7500m – 5 hours
Most climbers start using supplementary oxygen when they move above the North Col. The route begins as a snowy ramp and turns into scree and rocks, the North Ridge proper. There is fixed rope on this entire route between the North Col and Camp II, so it is straightforward, but the strong the strong east -west crosswinds on this section can sometimes knock climbers off their feet. The last 200-300 m into Camp II is predominantly rock with mixed snow. Camp II is located where the mass of the North Ridge meets mountain, like a giant buttress. We set up camp on one of the several small ledges along the long rocky terrain of the North Ridge, probably the windiest camp on the mountain. From Camp II we get a view of the entire route to the summit and a spectacular view of surrounding mountains and all the way down to ABC.
Camp II to Camp III, 8300m – 4 to 6 hours
The route to Camp III leaves the North Ridge and continues on the North Face. It begins on steep snow and ice up a series of 30 degree gullies that are fairly sheltered from the wind. We use fixed ropes the entire way. Closer to Camp III the terrain steepens and becomes slippery, loose shale and scree interlaced with snow. Camp III, is just below the Yellow Band at 8400-meters. There are many sites for small tents along the steep, rocky ridge. Again, the crosswinds can be fierce, so tents are often pummeled with strong winds. From Camp III, we can look up to the Northeast Ridge and see the first and second steps up to the summit. The view down into Tibet is also expansive.
Camp III to Summit
From Camp III the route follow the very weathered fixed ropes leading up a steep snow-filled gully, part of the Yellow Band. A small ill-defined ramp leads to the crest of the Northeast Ridge proper at about 8500m. The ridge is easier, but more exposed to the wind.
The First Step, 8500m, takes 1-2 hours
A traverse along the stratum joining the yellow and gray bands reaches a shallow gully leading to the ledge above; the First Step. At this altitude the steep climb on fixed ropes is challenging. The next section is not steep but loose rocks and boulders render our crampons useless on the way to the Mushroom Rock, a strange rock that looks like a mushroom sitting on a rocky platform approximately 8534m. This is a good spot to stop and swap oxygen bottles. The route skirts a 15-20 meter high snow crest to reach the foot of the Second Step at around 8570m.
The Second Step, 8577 – 8626m, takes 1 hour or less but is the hardest section of the route. First, there is a 3m rock slab, and then a 50 degree snow slope of 7-9 meters and a 5 meter headwall to reach the foot of the 30-foot ladder. This perfectly vertical ladder was fixed in 1960 by a Chinese expedition. Climbing the ladder is uncomplicated but requires a tricky maneuver from the top rung onto a very exposed ledge with a 3000m drop below. (The descent on the ladder is far more difficult because it is so hard to see your feet placement. This can result in dangerous delays.)
The Third Step: 8689m -8720m, takes 1 to 2 hours and is the easiest of the three steps. A boulder-strewn plateau leads to The Third Step—a 30m climb onto the final pyramid.
Summit Pyramid 8720m- 8850m, takes up to 4 hours
The Summit Pyramid is the final obstacle. First there is a steep snow field leading up the north face to a rock barricade below the summit tower. Skirting the rock, there is a ramp with three rock steps leading onto the snowy crest to the summit. It is not steep, but exposed, windy and brutally cold with a 3000m drop on either side, a final tightrope walk to the top of the world.
We will have spent around 8 to 10 hours climbing to the summit. The descent follows the same route. It takes another 4 to 6 hours to return to CIII.
Annapurna Foothills Treks and Expeditions run expeditions to both the North Ridge and to the South Col route of Mt. Everest, 8848 meters. There are good reasons to choose either side of the world’s tallest mountain. Here are some of the advantages of the North Ridge in comparison to the South Col:
Day 1 : Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 2 : Preparation Day in Kathmandu, 1300m
Day 3 : Preparation Day in Kathmandu, 1300m
Day 4 : Drive to Kodari on the Tibetan Border, 2300m
Day 5 : Cross into Tibet and drive to Nyalam, 3750m
Day 6 : Acclimatization hikes around Nyalam
Day 7 : Drive to Tingri, 4300m
Day 8 : Acclimatization Day in Tingri
Day 9 : Drive to Chinese (Everest) Base Camp, 5200m
Day 10 : Acclimatization at Base Camp
Day 11 : 11-13 Acclimatization at Advanced Base Camp
Day 14 : Trek to First Interim Camp, 5680m, 4 hours
Day 15 : Trek to Second Interim Camp, 6088m, 5 hrs
Day 16 : Trek to Advanced Base Camp, 6440m, 3 hrs
Day 17 : 17-60 Climbing Everest
Day 61 : Return to Kathmandu
Day 62 : Departure from Kathmandu
1. Cargo clearance
2. All related airport / hotel / airport transfers
3. Hotel accommodation in Kathmandu on B&B twin sharing basis
4. Road transport by private vehicle to Chinese Base Camp both for expeditioners and staff
5. Full board service during entire tour except in Kathmandu
6. All transport of necessary expedition supplies: Chinese Base Camp- Cho Oyo Base camp (by yaks and porters)
7. Dining tent with Dining table and chairs in Base Camp
8. Kitchen tent and 2 high altitude cooks for Base Camp including equipment, wages and insurance
9. EPI Gas with burner and cooking pot set
10. Gas heaters in the dining tent & solar panel power available at BC
11. First-rate high altitude food
12. Sherpa climbing guide per climber, including equipment, wages and insurance
13. Climbing Permit and all necessary permits
14. Garbage deposit
16. Radio walkie-talkie set for climber/Sherpa team, including permit charge
17. Single sleeping tents with closed cell pads for entire expedition
18. 2 cylinders of oxygen per climber with mask and regulator set
19. 1 cylinder of oxygen per climbing Sherpa with mask and regulator set
20. Cost of transporting oxygen to Camp III and IV by Sherpa porter
21. Liaison Officer charges including insurance
22. Shower tent at Base Camp
23. Toilet tent at Base Camp & Camp II
24. Gear tent for storage at Base Camp & Camp II
25. Gamow Bag up to Camp II
26. Satellite telephone (per minute rates apply)
Oxygen cylinders hold 1800 liters, which at 3 liters/minute lasts 10 hours. One bottle and regulator weighs about 7.3kg total. You will not carry more than one bottle at a time. Most climbers use oxygen from Camp III, at 1 liter/min. for sleeping and 3 liter/min climbing. This means a total of 2 cylinders are needed for the summit and descent back to Camp III.
Extra oxygen bottles are available for $600 each. They must be ordered at the time of booking.
1. Your travel insurance (Should include helicopter evacuation as well)
2. International air tickets
3. Nepal visa: entry and re-entry
4. China Visa fee
5. Lunches & dinners in Kathmandu
6. Personal climbing equipment
7. Two sleeping bags, one for Base Camp and one for the higher camps
8. Expenses of personal nature
9. Tips for climbing support staff (Tipping is customary)
10. Any costs associated with you leaving the expedition early.
11. Any costs associated with arriving back in Kathmandu early, for example, having climbed the mountain ahead of schedule.
Why Climb Everest North with Annapurna Foothills Treks?
Oxygen cylinders hold 1800 liters, which at 3 liters/minute lasts 10 hours. One bottle and regulator weighs about 7.3kg total. You will not carry more than one bottle at a time. Most climbers use oxygen from Camps 1 at the North Col, at 1 liter/min. for sleeping and 3 liter/min climbing. This means a total of 4 cylinders are needed for the summit and descent back to Camp I. As a safety precaution, Annapurna Treks and Expeditions provides each climber 5 bottles of oxygen for the expedition.
Destination : Tibet
Duration : 62 Days
Price : US $29,500 p/p
Trip Grade : Alpine Grade 4D
Group Size:2 - 12 Persons
Hotel in Kathmandu:4 Nights B&B plan (Bed & Breakfast)
Accommodation during Expedition:All meals in lodges during Trekking & Camping
Was really impressed with the speed at which they organised a tour for me, and the quality of the tour itself. The director - Ngima - was very responsive and really helpful, meeting me the day before my tour and introducing me to my guide the day of the tour.…Phillippa
Just got back from an awesome trip to Nepal, kindly arranged by Ngima Sherpa from Annapurna Foothills Treks. The organisation of the trip was absolutely flawless, and I can't remember having any problems during my whole month long stay. My Sherpa Dendi (as featured in the new Everest movie),is a…Neil Murphy
My boyfriend and I wanted to trek in Nepal so I found Annapurna Foothills details online - they were amazing from start to finish. Ngima, the Managing Director was really helpful over email in planning the trip and flexible to help us fit in everything we wanted to. Our guide…Meriel Flint