You are here

Ray Huey on Mount Everest summit success rate in UW News

Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 09:00 to Friday, November 27, 2020 - 09:00

Ray Huey, UW Biology professor emeritus, lead-authored a paper recently published to PLOS ONE. The paper's findings represent the most comprehensive look at success and death rates in published literature on Mount Everest. An article about this research is featured in UW News:

As the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest draws more than 500 climbers each spring to attempt the summit during a small window of favorable conditions on the rugged Himalayan mountain that tops out at just over 29,000 feet.

A new study led by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, Davis, finds that the success rate of summiting Mount Everest has doubled in the last three decades, even though the number of climbers has greatly increased, crowding the narrow route through the dangerous “death zone” near the summit. However, the death rate for climbers has hovered unchanged at around 1% since 1990.

The findings were published Aug. 26 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. They represent the most comprehensive look at success and death rates in the published literature on Everest. The paper also identifies patterns in the characteristics of mountaineers — such as age, sex and prior experience — that might influence their likelihood of summiting or dying during the spring climbing season.

“Mount Everest is still a very dangerous mountain, and climbing it will never become a walk in the park, because it’s way above the limits of what most people can do,” said lead author Raymond Huey, a UW professor emeritus of biology. “Unfortunately, reported statistics of risk on Everest are often inaccurate. By analyzing climbing data, we provide accurate information on the chances of success and on the chances of dying, thereby helping climbers make an informed decision about whether to attempt this great peak.”

These patterns also can help Nepal and China in deciding whether to institute restrictions on climbers such as maximum age or experience level, Huey added.

Read the full article on UW News.

See related stories on Gizmodo, Reuters, UPI, and Inverse.

Fields of interest: