South Summit (Mount Everest)

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Mount Everest South Summit
Summit camp Everest.jpg
The pinnacle is the South Summit in this view from the South Col
Highest point
Elevation 8,749 m (28,704 ft)
Prominence 11 m (36 ft)
Parent peak Mount Everest
Isolation 0.36 km (0.22 mi)
Listing Eight-thousanders
Coordinates 27°59′6″N86°55′33″E / 27.98500°N 86.92583°E / 27.98500; 86.92583 Coordinates: 27°59′6″N86°55′33″E / 27.98500°N 86.92583°E / 27.98500; 86.92583
Parent range Mahalangur Himal, Himalayas
First ascent May 26, 1953 [1] [2]
Normal route Traversing the South Col

The South Summit of Mount Everest in the Himalayas is the second-highest peak on Earth, and is a subsidiary peak to the primary peak of Mount Everest. Although its elevation above sea level of 8,749 metres (28,704 ft) is higher than the second-highest mountain on Earth, K2 (whose summit is 8,611 metres (28,251 ft) above sea level), it is only considered a separate peak and not a separate mountain as its prominence is only 11 meters.



The peak is a dome-shaped peak of snow and ice, and is connected to the summit of Mount Everest by the Cornice Traverse and Hillary Step. It was first climbed by Charles Evans and Tom Bourdillon of the 1953 British Mount Everest expedition on 26 May 1953. [1] [2] [3] They arrived at 1 pm, too late to continue on to the primary summit because of problems with Evan's oxygen set, but Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the next pair to make a summit bid, traversed the South Summit to reach the main peak on 29 May. The distance separating the two summits is approximately 130 metres (430 ft).


On reaching the South Col in 1953, expedition leader John Hunt was struck by the sight, writing "Above us rose the South Summit of Everest ... an elegant snow spire, breathtakingly close yet nearly 3000 feet above our heads ... none of us had been prepared for any spectacle quite so sharp, quite so beautiful as this. To me it seemed that a new and unsuspected peak of alpine stature stood above the South Col." [4]

A geologist with a 1965 Indian Everest expedition discovered a deposit of fossils of seashells in limestone about 100 feet above the South Summit. This expedition put nine climbers on the main summit. [5]

Describing his first ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen in 1978, Reinhold Messner described the South Summit as "quite a milestone for me". [6]

During the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, mountain guide Rob Hall and three other people died at the South Summit while descending from the main summit in an unexpected blizzard. Hall survived overnight, and established radio contact the following day, but froze to death later that day, May 11, 1996. His body remains on the South Summit. [7] [8]

In 2012 Eberhard Schaaf died on descent at the south summit from altitude sickness. [9]

The south summit is a popular place for climbers to stop for various reasons, and to turn around if so decided. [10] From this location the cornice traverse, Hillary step, and summit can be seen in clear weather and for a typical climber using bottled oxygen in the early 21st century, it is a favored spot to change oxygen bottles. [10]

The south summit is the sub peak on the right-side. Mount Everest from Kala Patther.jpg
The south summit is the sub peak on the right-side.

See also

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  1. 1 2 Isserman, Maurice; Weaver, Stewart (2010). Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes. Yale University Press. pp. 286–287. ISBN   9780300164206.
  2. 1 2 Kerr, Jim (2008). Hillary and Norgay's Mount Everest Adventure: Great journeys across earth. Heinemann-Raintree Library. p. 45. ISBN   9781403497550.
  3. Gill, Michael (2017). Edmund Hillary: A Biography. Nelson, NZ: Potton & Burton. p. 202. ISBN   978-0-947503-38-3.
  4. Sir John Hunt, The Ascent of Everest, Hodder & Stoughton, 1953, p.176
  5. Kohli, Mohan Singh (2000). Nine Atop Everest: Spectacular Indian Ascent. New Delhi: Indus Publishing. pp. 168–169. ISBN   9788173871115.
  6. Messner, Reinhold (1979). Everest: Expedition to the Ultimate. Kaye & Ward. ISBN   9780195201352.
  7. Boukreev, Anatoli; DeWalt, G. Weston (2015). The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 199. ISBN   9781250099822.
  8. Simpson, Joe (1999). Dark Shadows Falling. The Mountaineers Books. pp. 33–40. ISBN   9780898865905.
  9. Billera, Michael (17 February 2010). "Three Climbers Reported Dead Scaling Mount Everest: Eberhard Schaaf, Shriya Shah, and Song Won-bin Dead, Two Others Missing". Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  10. 1 2 "NOVA Online | Everest | Climb South | The Way to the Summit". Retrieved 2017-06-17.