Climbers wait to ascend fixed ropes to the Lhotse Face, heading to the South Col of Mount Everest. The route up the South Col is the most popular, with hundreds of people reaching the summit every year.
Photograph by Andy Bardon, National Geographic

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  • On May 10, 1996, eight climbers died trying to summit Mount Everest, Nepal, one of the worst single-day death toll in the mountain’s history.
    First successfully summited in 1953, climbing technology and experienced Sherpas and mountaineer guides have made ascending Mount Everest the ultimate in “adventure tourism.” Hundreds of people try to climb the mountain every year—658 reached the summit in 2013 alone. Not all of these climbers are adequately prepared for the expedition.
    On May 10, 1996, 33 professional and amateur mountaineers attempted to reach the highest point on Earth. Guide ropes had not been fixed, and there was a traffic jam of climbers near the summit. A storm set in as the climbers and their guides slowly made the ascent. The storm developed into a blizzard, trapping many climbers on the mountain. Even experienced mountaineers fell victim to the thin air, freezing temperatures, and impossibly harsh weather on the “top of the world.”
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    adequate Adjective

    suitable or good enough.

    amateur Adjective

    person who studies and works at an activity or interest without financial benefit or being formally trained in it.

    ascend Verb

    to go up.

    blizzard Noun

    storm with high winds, intense cold, heavy snow, and little rain.

    expedition Noun

    journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.

    mountaineer Noun

    someone who climbs mountains.

    Sherpa Noun

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

    summit Verb

    to reach the highest point of a mountain.

    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

    temperature Noun

    degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.

    Encyclopedic Entry: temperature
    toll Noun

    amount of loss or suffering from an event.

    tourism Noun

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

    traffic Noun

    movement of many things, often vehicles, in a specific area.

    ultimate Adjective

    final or maximum.

    weather Noun

    state of the atmosphere, including temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, and cloudiness.

    Encyclopedic Entry: weather