You have successfully trekked from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and acclimatized well. You didn't pay for summiting Everest, you seemingly intended to only trek to Everest Base Camp and climb the Kala Patthar (which you successfully accomplished).

Now in Base Camp, you decide to go on to the higher camps, and possibly up to the summit. You steal yourself away without telling anyone and go on to Camp I. Assuming you approximately know the way (from the description by others, from maps, and the route is somewhat marked today), are in good physical condition and have enough supplies, how far would you get, and what consequences would you have to face, assuming you do it to Camp I, II or beyond, or if you return to Base Camp because it was too hard for you, and they in Base Camp know you were absent in the meantime? And is it even possible to cross the Khumbu Icefall on one's own or would you definitely be unable to go beyond?

  • 7
    Death? (I have not enough information for a proper answer but every report I have read about or seen on TV require a team of people to carry the needed supplies.)
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 9:56
  • @Willeke But how soon / at what location would they die? And I included the possibility that the person in question would return to Base Camp if they'd be unable to go on.
    – Giovanni
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 10:36
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    Judging from your next question my guess is the same: death. I suppose that the reason a permit is required is to minimise such stupidity, and/or the burden placed on rescue parties. Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 12:49
  • @Giovanni even for less demanding activities, "steal yourself away without telling anyone" is not recommended procedure: on the contrary you should inform someone about when you expect to return. Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 13:25
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    See article on Goran Kropp, who climbed Everest solo without Sherpa support after bicycling from his home in Sweden -- sea level to the top of Everest.
    – ab2
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 22:15

2 Answers 2


Trekking =! climbing. You wouldn't make it unless you have significant climbing experience.

First off without climbing experience and high altitude climbing experience (over 5000 m) you have almost no chance. Even something like Aconcagua (6961 m) which may not require ropes, ice axe etc, still requires training and acclimatization Almost all of Sagarmatha is not highly technical climbing, apart from the famous Khumbu ice-fall and the Hillary Step. The Lhotse face is on fixed rope, and the Geneva Spur and Yellow Band require ~100 m of rope to ascend in a scramble.

Generally people who climb these sorts of heights have an acclimatization process - they go up, then come back down for a couple of days, then head up again to stay at the higher altitude, rinse and repeat, until they are in a position from which to summit (generally the South Col from the Nepal side). This process generally takes about 40-60 days. The South Col is at 7,900 m, at an altitude called the "death zone" because at about this altitude, the body can no longer extract oxygen efficiently from the air and will slowly die without supplemental oxygen. A summit climb from here takes about 10-12 hours on supplemental oxygen, despite being only about 2 km to the summit from the South Col.

Trekking gear is quite different to climbing gear. Most climbers who ascend high peaks like this have things like harnesses, ice axes, crampons, ropes, tents, and last, but certainly not least in terms of weight - Oxygen tanks. Without all of these won't make it. Climbing clothes are significantly warmer and more protective than typical trekking clothes, needing to withstand much much colder temperatures (think -40 F/C) and stronger winds and rougher wear/tear (rocks, ice, sharp implements etc).

Even if you had the right gear, you wouldn't have the resources to carry all the O2 you need to the South Col and have enough in reserve to get back down again or wait out a storm. The number of people that reach the summit of Sagarmatha/Chomolungma without supplemental oxygen are very few, and they are all very experienced climbers and all do it by rapid alpine style ascent, heading up and back fast, hoping to beat the effects of altitude sickness before they come into play. I believe they also pre-acclimatize to some extent.

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    Other than that, are there no legal consequences of trying to summit Everest by yourself on what seems to be a suicidal mission?
    – Giovanni
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 10:43
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    Alright, the answer in the link answers it: "If you get caught above basecamp without a permit, the fine is $22,000.00, and you might even get jail time on top of that." outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/16646/…
    – Giovanni
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 11:02
  • @Giovanni - I deliberately didn't mention legal consequences as you implied stealth, and assumed from that you were asking if you could sneak in and do it, regardless of legal consequences.
    – bob1
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 20:59
  • Well, I asked approximately on both.
    – Giovanni
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 6:19
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    Stealth simply ain't going to work, even if you had the equipment and experience to make the attempt. In season, there are Government officials policing the Base Camp, and all the higher camps are occupied by Sherpas, guides and clients. A lone-wolf would stand out like a camel in the Khumbu. Plus you'd be ripping off one of the poorest Governments on the planet and denying the Sherpas much-needed income, so it would be highly unethical as well. Out of season, death would be all but inevitable... Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 18:15

If :

  1. you are sufficiently acclimatized from elsewhere (for example, you very recently did another 8000m peak) and
  2. you have the right gear and food, and
  3. you are sufficiently trained to climb solo alpine style

then you could as well go to the summit and back, and possibly even set a new record.

Highly trained/experienced climbers sometimes think of doing this sort of stuff. Understand however that this is extremely tough and the number of people who can actually pull this off is in the single digits. Example, Reinhold Messner did this 40 odd years back.

This Quora answer states "Five people have attempted to summit Mount Everest solo. Three were successful. Two died on Everest."

Everest, however, is kinda crowded, so some sherpas might complain if you clip into ropes they have fixed, or ladders they have set up across crevasses and in Khumbu (people need to pay to take advantage of these things). But if you don't need fixed rope, you just go on.

Now if you do not meet conditions 1, 2 and 3, you will almost certainly die. If you do not have climbing gear, you will not get much farther beyond crampon point, you will slip and injure yourself.

Also note that since 2017, the Nepal government has banned solo ascents. The Chinese also do not allow groups of less than 4 members.

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