This photograph—taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station—highlights the northern approach to Mount Everest from Tibet (China).
Known as the northeast ridge route, climbers travel along the East Rongbuk Glacier (image lower left) to camp at the base of Changtse mountain.
From this point at approximately 6,100 metres (20,000 feet) above sea level (ASL), climbers ascend the North Col—a sharp-edged pass carved by glaciers, at image centre—to reach a series of progressively higher camps along the North Face of Everest. Climbers make their final push to the summit (just off the top edge of the image) from Camp VI at 8,230 metres (27,000 feet) elevation.
Located within the Himalaya mountain chain, Everest (or Sagarmatha in Nepali) is the Earth’s highest mountain, with its summit at 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) ASL. Khumbutse mountain, visible at the lower right, has a summit elevation of 6,640 meters (21,785 feet) ASL.
While the viewing angle in this image—almost looking straight down from the International Space Station—tends to flatten the topography, astronauts have also taken images that highlight the rugged nature of the area.
See the full-size (1.7MB) image here.
On May 20, 2009, former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski became the first human to both travel into space and to summit Everest.
Climbing to the summit of Everest requires much advance planning, conditioning, and situational awareness on the part of mountaineers to avoid potentially fatal consequences. As of 2010, there have been over 200 reported deaths.
The numerous expeditions to reach the summit of Everest have produced significant trash and spent oxygen bottles at the various camps, leading the Nepalese government to impose rules requiring climbers to return with their gear and rubbish. Several “cleanup” expeditions have removed tons of material, including the remains of several climbers.
Adapted from information issued by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC. Image by ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Centre.
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