Mount Everest: What Goes Up Should Come Down Unit Driving Question: How can we enjoy and explore unique natural areas while still protecting our environment?

Summits with a View Lesson Driving Question: Why do people want to climb Mount Everest?

1. Have students learn about each of the Seven Summits through a jigsaw and mapping.
    • Redistribute the students’ world maps that were started in Danger Versus Desire: The Inspirational Power of the Peaks activity and have students complete the Seven (Eight) Summits World Map Jigsaw.
    • Group students so that there is at least one peak expert from each of the eight peaks. Have students share what they learned about their summit with the rest of the group, one at a time, helping one another complete the other seven of the Peakbagging Cards.
    • Once all students have collected the information for all eight peaks from their group members, have students attach their peak cards to the tabletop world map with the corner of the card pointing to the correct location of the peak. Once students have attached each of the eight peaks, they have successfully “bagged” all the peaks.

2. Support students' use of a graphic organizer to research how exploration, recreation, and vocation inspire mountaineers to climb.
    • Distribute one copy of the Mountaineering as Exploration, Recreation, and Vocation worksheet to each student, explaining that it will be used to collect evidence from text-based and video resources that explain how mountaineering can have goals related to exploration, recreation, and vocation.
    • Model for students how to use resources to complete Mountaineering as Exploration, Recreation, and Vocation.
    • As a class, watch the Everest - Getting to the Top video (3:21) as an example of mountaineering one of the Seven Summits as exploration. (Warning: this video shows dead climbers along the route.)
    • Demonstrate how to organize information by using evidence from the video to complete the Mountaineering as Exploration, Recreation, and Vocation worksheet, especially focusing on exploration. The first row of the worksheet has been completed as an example.

3. Students read articles considering the varying goals of mountaineering and complete the Mountaineering as Exploration, Recreation, and Vocation worksheet.
    • Have students read the following seven articles. As students read, have them record what they learn on their copy of Mountaineering as Exploration, Recreation, and Vocation.
    • Once students have completed their reading and assignment, discuss as a class: How do each of these goals inspire the climb? In what ways do people rely on these mountains? (Possible response: The Nepalese government and Sherpas depend on income from providing expedition support to mountaineering tourists.) 

4. Lead students in a whole-class discussion on their findings.
  • Suggested questions to prompt discussion are:    
      • What is the greatest difference between those who climb for exploration and those who climb for recreation?
      • How have the goals changed for Sherpas who initially climbed Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary compared to those who climb with tourist and expedition groups today?
      • Besides Sherpas, what other types of vocations may involve climbing? 
      • Why don’t Sherpas work in much less dangerous fields?
      • How do the costs of mountain climbing contrast with payoff in each of these goals (exploration, recreation, vocation)?
      • Describe how mountains like Mount Everest or the Seven Summits have been a common destination for explorers, recreationists and career-based expeditioners.
      • Has mountaineering and trekking tourism changed the area near Mount Everest where the Sherpas live?
      • Are Sherpas the only ethnic group of people residing in Nepal that assist with mountaineering and trekking-based tourism?
      • Are there any non-Sherpa guides?
      • By your observations, is mountaineering on Mount Everest sustainable?

5. Using the Mount Everest: Know and Need to Know Chart, have students list what they know and want to know about Mount Everest.
  • Distribute the Mount Everest: Know and Need to Know Chart to each student. 
  • Have students complete the What I Know column with what they know or have learned about Mount Everest up to this point. 
  • Have students brainstorm additional questions they have on why Everest is such an important landform for all who rely on it and who want to conquer it and add these questions to their Need to Know column.

6. Introduce the unit project.
  • To connect students to the culminating project, explain that in this unit, they will be learning more about the impacts of mountaineering and tourism on unique natural areas like Everest.
  • Explain that students will create a Mount Everest Bill of Rights. Then they will write an analysis that explains how both local governments and individuals can protect one of those rights. Finally, they will create an infographic that applies what they have learned to our local natural environments.

Informal Assessment

Collect the Mountaineering as Exploration, Recreation, and Vocation worksheet from each student and look for examples in each row that address discovering previously undiscovered areas or passageways (exploration), mountaineering as a sport or hobby (recreation), and Sherpas, mountain guides, and others who climb mountains regularly as a part of their career (vocation). If students have other examples, scan for accuracy or make notes if students have missed key points.

Extending the Learning

Biographical Research Extension: Have students research a known Everest explorer, Sherpa, or recreational mountaineers such as Edmund Hillary, George Mallory, Patrick Morrow, Kami Rita Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, or Junko Tabei, and present a short slideshow providing basic biographic information, as well as images related to the types of equipment the mountaineers used during their time.

Career Research Extension: Have students choose a profession related to mountaineering, whether it be climbing guides, equipment development, technology-based engineering, and create a short presentation about what responsibilities the career entails, the estimated pay, and the education necessary to be able to obtain such a career.

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Conservation
  • English Language Arts
  • Geography
  • Social Studies
    • Economics

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Know that mountaineers climb for different reasons, including exploration (to discover unknown routes), various types of recreation, and vocation (such as climbing guides and Sherpas).
  • Read multiple texts to organize and summarize information, using text evidence and citing sources used.
  • Be able to map the location, elevation, and other facts about the eight peaks of the Seven Summits on a world map.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Guided listening
  • Jigsaw
  • Multimedia instruction

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.2:  Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7:  Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.1.B:  Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources. 

The College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards

  • D2.Geo.4.6-8:  Explain how cultural patterns and economic decisions influence environments and the daily lives of people in both nearby and distant places.
  • D2.His.12.6-8:  Use questions generated about multiple historical sources to identify further areas of inquiry and additional sources.
  • D2.His.4.6-8:  Analyze multiple factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.

What You’ll Need

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Monitor/screen, Printer, Projector, Speakers

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • If students begin in jigsaw groups, it is easiest to have students partner up with these groups having each one of the students read one of the two articles and share their findings with their partner to fully consider how mountaineering goals vary.
  • If the students have one-to-one computer and internet access, have students read the articles digitally rather than having copies printed for each student.


  • Heterogeneous grouping
  • Jigsaw grouping
  • Large-group instruction
  • Large-group learning
  • Small-group learning
  • Small-group work

Background Information

There are several reasons a person may choose to be a mountaineer. They may be explorers looking for new pathways or never before seen natural areas untouched by human development. They may be recreationists who enjoy mountaineering for the scenery, tourism, challenge, athletic, and even spiritual experiences that summiting a mountain can offer. Or, mountaineering may be a part of their vocation, or career, where they have chosen to make a living off of climbing mountains, whether it be as a mountain guide, a research scientist or geologist, a professional athlete, or another career that requires one to climb regularly.

Prior Knowledge

  • Mount Everest is one of the Seven Summits and the highest peak in the world.



study and investigation of unknown places, concepts, or issues.

Mount Everest

highest spot on Earth, approximately 8,850 meters (29,035 feet). Mount Everest is part of the Himalaya and straddles the border of Nepal and China.


having to do with activities done for enjoyment.


people and culture native to the Himalayan region of Nepal and China. Sherpa often serve as mountaineer guides and porters on mountain-climbing expeditions.


the industry (including food, hotels, and entertainment) of traveling for pleasure.


having to do with instruction or guidance in an occupation or career.

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