Mt. Everest is an ‘amateur’ climb compared to these other peaks, according to a professional mountaineer

    Professional mountaineer Garrett Madison (left) has summited Mt. Everest (right) 14 times. Even though it’s the tallest mountain he’s climbed, it’s not the most difficult, he says.

    Garrett Madison, Zzvet/Getty Images

    Mt. Everest is the world’s tallest peak. But some mountaineers, like Garrett Madison, say it isn’t the hardest to climb.Hundreds of people summit Mt. Everest each year, and you don’t need to be an expert to do it.Madison says Mt. Everest is an “amateur” climb compared to harder peaks like K2 and Mt. Nuptse.

    Garrett Madison has mastered Mt. Everest. He’s summited the world’s tallest peak 14 times, and led more than 80 other climbers to the top.

    He makes it look easy. And that’s partly because it’s not even the most challenging mountain he’s climbed.

    This year, he embarked on his ninth K2 expedition. And K2 is “definitely harder than Everest by many measures,” he told Business Insider.

    K2 “has been called the mountaineer’s peak, whereas Everest has become more of an amateur climber’s peak,” he added.

    More people are climbing Mt. Everest

    Mountaineers line up during their ascent to summit Mt. Everest in Nepal. Hundreds of climbers flock to this peak each year, causing overcrowding at the top.

    LAKPA SHERPA/AFP via Getty Images

    Over the last 23 years, the number of people climbing above Mt. Everest’s base camp has nearly doubled, according to Alan Arnette, a Mt. Everest summiter and climbing coach who writes a blog about the mountain.

    Reaching the top of Mt. Everest was once a feat that only the world’s most skilled mountaineers could accomplish. In the 1990s, only a few dozen people would summit per year, the Kathmandu Post reported.

    Nowadays, hundreds of people stand atop the world’s highest peak each year. In 2023, roughly 600 climbers summited Mt. Everest, Arnette reported. For comparison, by 2023, only an estimated 689 people had ever summited K2, according to Climbing Magazine.

    K2, as seen from Broad Peak at 20,668 feet. Though this mountain is slightly smaller than Everest, the ascent to its summit is far more dangerous.

    Courtesy of Jake Meyer

    In fact, so many climbers are flocking to Mt. Everest that the mountain is suffering from overcrowding. During the 2019 climbing season, a long queue of people stretched down from the summit, each waiting for their turn to stand atop the peak.

    That’s not to say that anyone can, or should, climb Mt. Everest. It’s still a dangerous feat. But you don’t have to be a world-class mountaineer, like Madison, to do it. That’s partly because the booming climbing tourism industry in Nepal has driven down the cost of an Everest expedition, opening the door to hobbyists and adventure-seekers, PBS reported in 2019.

    The average cost to climb Everest in 2024 was about $55,000, according to pricing data from ExpedReview.

    Meanwhile, Madison and other advanced climbers go searching for greater challenges. He just achieved his second “triple crown,” what some consider to be the world’s ultimate high-altitude mountaineering prize.

    Why Mt. Everest isn’t the hardest climb

    Madison geared up in an oxygen mask while on his triple crown expedition.

    Photo courtesy of Garrett Madison

    Only a few climbers have summited the Everest region’s triple crown. These three peaks, Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhotse, and Mt. Nuptse, are highly dangerous. And to earn the crown, mountaineers have to climb all three in a single season.

    Even though Everest is the tallest of these three mountains, it’s not the most challenging to climb, Madison said.

    “Generally Everest, as the highest peak, garners all of our attention, right? And we have assumed that it’s the hardest peak. But just because it’s the highest, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the hardest,” he said.

    For example, Mt. Nuptse is roughly 3,000 feet shorter than Mt. Everest, but it’s far more challenging, Madison explained. “It doesn’t get a lot of attention and fanfare, but it’s right there next to Everest and Lhotse. It’s a much steeper, harder, more technical climb,” he said.

    Sunset over Mt. Nuptse and Mt. Lhotse summits. These smaller peaks are Mt. Everest’s neighbors.

    Godong/Getty Images

    “The summit days are much longer in terms of elevation gain, total duration on the mountain, hours spent climbing, so it’s much more strenuous,” he added.

    Despite these challenges, Madison has summited all three peaks twice now, once in 2023 and again this year. And he won’t stop there. After completing his second triple crown, he embarked on his ninth K2 expedition.

    “I feel really lucky and privileged to get to go on these expeditions,” he said.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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