Everest Diary

The Everest Balcony: World’s Highest Weather Station At 8430m

Everest Balcony is a small tennis court-sized place that lies below Hillary Step and above South Col (Camp IV). The Everest Balcony is the perfect place to rest and acclimatize before the final push to the summit of Mt. Everest. It is a prominent landmark that is shaped like a tennis court, and with its unique look, height, and resemblance to a balcony-looking region, this location is one of the most well-liked features of the Everest Expedition. This place serves as a rest point for mountain climbers where they can acclimatize and adjust their equipment before they push their final summit and serves the excellent beauty of the Himalayan range.

The Everest Balcony lies at an altitude of 8430m. While the journey to the summit of Everest is strenuous, the Everest Balcony provides some relief and rest to cure extreme tiredness. Despite the challenges like high altitude, natural disasters, unpredictable weather, and challenging terrains, the journey to the Everest Balcony serves you with the excellent beauty of Mt. Everest, Mahalangur range, and other mountainous landscapes of Lhotse, Pumori, Cho Oyu, Nuptse and many more.

Overview of the route to Everest Balcony

ver the #EverestBalcony right before the strenuous rock climb onto the South Summit.

Many people seek thrill and excitement in summiting the tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest, which stands at a height of 8,848.86m. Everest Balcony lies along the way of a few hundred meters below the summit of Everest. Now, reaching the top of the world isn’t a short walk to the park, instead it is the most challenging task that one can ever dare to do. It requires sheer determination, perseverance, good physical strength, and excellent mountaineering skills. Your every trekking and mountain climbing experience adds up in this battle of life and death, where you’ll summit Mt. Everest by conquering a series of life-threatening challenges.

Everest Balcony Station National GeographicFor Everest Expedition, there are two ways to reach the top of the world. One is the South Col route and another is The Northeast Ridge Route of Everest. Embarking on this rip-roaring journey through Nepal involves summiting Mt. Everest through the South Col route. Everest Balcony lies in the South Col route but not in the Northeast Ridge Route of Everest. In brief, the Everest Expedition takes you through Everest Base Camp to a series of Camps like Camp I, Camp II, Camp III, Yellow Band, Geneva Spur, South Col (Camp IV), Balcony Station, Hillary Step, and finally, the summit of Everest. This is the route that was first climbed by the Tenzing Norway Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953 and the route is followed till the date.

These places are a series of stopovers to rest and acclimatize properly during the strenuous journey to the summit of Mt. Everest. The adventure is more than 2 months long, and for more than one and a half months, you’ll be spending your time above the Everest Base Camp by camping and acclimatizing. Therefore, these Camps will let you catch your breathe and let you acclimatize properly during your adventure, Everest Expedition. In the same way, The Everest Balcony is the world’s highest weather station and lies at an altitude of 8,430m.

South Col: Journey to Everest Balcony and summit of Mt. Everest

Everest Peak Mountain View

Kathmandu to Lukla Flight

The adventure begins with a scenic flight from Kathamandu to Lukla. We’ll embark on this journey after your arrival at Tribhuwan International Airport. After your arrival, you’ll be picked up by our team members and transferred to one of the facilitated hotels for your stay. You’ll spend the day resting and visiting some local places. After that, the next day marks the preparation day for the big adventure to come. You’ll also meet us during that day, and we’ll provide you with detail info about the adventure. You’ll also roam around the local places and buy the necessary gear and mountaineering equipment for the Everest Expedition. Then, you’ll catch a scenic flight over Kathmandu, Nagarkot, and Jiri Valley and sightsee numerous waterfalls, distinct topography, elevated hills, thundering rivers, and many more along the way.

Lukla to Everest Base Camp

The journey begins with the trek from Lukla. After your landing at Lukla Airport, you’ll embark on the journey by trekking through lush green forests and local settlements. The journey from Lukla to Everest Base Camp is challenging and can take quite a long time. Your trekking will be within the Sagarmatha National Park and you’ll pass through numerous Sherpa settlements. This journey can take about 1-2 weeks with proper acclimatization and maintaining a steady pace along the way. The mesmerizing journey takes you through a series of stopovers like:

  • Trek from Lukla (2800m) to Phakding (2610m)
  • Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaaar (3440m)
  • Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (3867m)
  • Trek from Tengboche to Dingboche (4260m)
  • Trek from Dingboche to Lobuche (4930m)
  • Trek from Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5180m)
  • Trek from Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp (5364m)

In between these trekking days, you’ll acclimatize properly in Namche Bazaar and Dingboche to let your body adapt to the changing surroundings.

Everest Base Camp

Upon reaching Everest Base Camp, you’ll acclimatize for 2-3 days to let your body adapt to the changing atmospheric pressure and decreasing oxygen level. You’ll also enhance your mountaineering skills by learning the uses of necessary gear and equipment. The accommodation facilities are not available in this region, which is why your first camping starts from Everest Base Camp. The days spent in the Everest Base Camp are like a training period or trial before the actual adventure begins. It takes a lot of time, energy, and sheer determination to summit the tallest mountain in the world by surpassing all the forthcoming challenges along the way.

Khumbu Icefall

The expedition journey has begun. From Everest Base Camp, you’ll start your expedition journey with a short hike, and you’ll reach Khumbu Icefall. Here are the key highlights and essential information about the Khumbu Icefall.

  • Khumbu Icefall is a part of the Khumbu Glacier and is located at the foot of Western Cwm.
  • Khumbu Icefall lies at an altitude of 5,486m, at the head of Khumbu Glacier, and is considered one of the most dangerous spots of the journey to The Everest Balcony
  • It is a treacherous section and poses a threat as it consists of deep crevasess and towering seracs.
  • This section demands the use of mountaineering tools like ladders, crampons, and ropes, along with strong navigating skills.
  • There were about 44 deaths in this region between 1953 and 2016. No deaths are recorded from 2017 to 2021.

Western Cwm

Following the south col route, you’ll cross Khumbu Icefall and reach Western Cwm. The expedition starts to get fun, exciting, and challenging with each step you take ahead. Here are the key highlights and essential information about the Western Cwm.

  • The Western Cwm is a U shaped valley carved by the Khumbu Glacier and is located at the foot of Lhotse’s face.
  • It lies at an altitude of 6000m above sea level
  • This section is not as challenging as Khumbu Icefall and is comparatively easier to navigate
  • It is also known as the Valley of Silence
  • Climbers can see Everest’s upper slopes for the first time from here.
  • This region provides the stunning beauty of Lhotse, Nuptse, and Everest

Camp I

The adventurous journey further takes you to Camp I. This is the first Camp of Everest Expedition. On the journey to Camp I, climbers can see Nuptse on their right, Lhotse ahead, and Everest on their left. Here are the key highlights and essential information about the Camp I.

  • Camp I is located below the base of Lhotse’s face and in the upper part of Cwm.
  • It lies at an altitude of 6065m above sea level.
  • It serves as the perfect place to acclimatize and rest
  • The campsite, which offers a transient haven in the brutal and merciless high Himalayan climate, is made up of a number of tent platforms fastened to the glacier.

Lhotse Face

What is the Lhotse Face

Just after Camp I, the expedition journey takes you to the base of Lhotse Face. The expedition can be technical, and it demands the use of mountaineering tools and mountaineering skills. Avalanches and icefall are common in the difficult terrain, thus fixed ropes are put in place to help climbers navigate it. It lies at an altitude of 6400m, and its range extends from Camp I to Camp III.

Camp II

The journey further takes you through Camp II with an altitude gain of around 500m. With each step, you feel the thundering atmosphere and cold breeze of the high Himalayan region. The journey keeps getting tough, and yet you keep geting tougher while enjoying the breathtaking views of Himalayan vistas up close.

  • Camp II lies at an altitude of 6500 meters and is about 1.74 miles from Camp I
  • With each step, there is a rise in altitude, and this can impose extreme heat during a bright and sunny day.
  • This is where climbers rest and acclimate before resuming their ascent to the higher camps.
  • This region serves you with the excellent panoramic beauty of mountainous landscapes along with mesmerizing sunrise and sunset, glancing upon Everest, Nuptse, and Lhotse’s faces.

Camp III

With each step taken forward, you’ll feel like you’re approaching the summit of Everest. Upon reaching Camp III, you’ll feel like you’re walking in the lap of Mt. Everest.

  • Camp 3 is situated on a small, rocky platform on the South Col.
  • It lies at an altitude of 7200m above sea level.
  • The journey to Camp III demands climbing the Lhotse Face and is quite challenging.
  • The final few hundred feet of reaching Camp III involves technical section, and it demands strong physical strength, prior mountaineering experiences, sheer determination, mental resilience, and ability to cope with fear.

Yellow Band and Geneva Spur

  • The Yellow Band lies above Camp III and below the Geneva Spur.
  • In the same way, the Geneva Spur lies above the Yellow Band and Camp III but below the South Col and Camp IV.
  • The Yellow Band lies at an altitude of 7500m, and the Geneva Spur lies at an altitude of 7900m.
  • Yellow Band is named after the yellowish color of the rock formation that lies on the Southeast Ridge of Mount Everest.
  • Geneva Spur is named after the Swiss city of Geneva.
  • From here, climbers will start to use oxygen cylinders.

South Col (Camp IV)

The route from Yellow Band and Geneva Spur to South Col (Camp IV) starts to toughen. It demands keen observation, strong strength, and precise navigating skills. It demands extensive use of mountaineer tools. It is located on the Southeast Ridge of Mount Everest and is marked as the final camping site before the final summit push. Here are the key highlights and essential information about the South Col (Camp IV).

  • It lies at an altitude of 7906m above sea level
  • This section demands the use of oxygen cylinders and precise navigating skills
  • Numerous mountain climbers have lost their lives in Camp IV. As such, going forward, climbers must exercise caution as they ascend the mountain.
  • The wall leading to the summit of Camp IV is also called the “Death Zone”
  • This section poses risks of climatic accidents, altitude sickness (AMS, HAPE, HACE), and low oxygen level

The Everest Balcony

  • This is almost the end stopover of the Everest Expedition.
  • It lies at an altitude of 8,430m above sea level.
  • It is the highest weather station on the planet Earth.
  • The Everest Balcony is the final step before the final summit of Mt. Everest.
  • This place served as a resting point and arranging the equipment.
  • The Everest Balcony also serves as an excellent viewpoint to sightsee Mt. Everest and surrounding mountains.
  • This serves you with the breathtaking views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Makalu, Mahalangur Mountain range, and many more.
  • The difficulty level of the Everest Balcony is considered to be challenging and consists of many technical aspects of mountain climbing.
  • Climbers require extensive technical climbing skills, sharpened mountaineering experience, physical fitness, and mental endurance to accomplish the journey to the Everest Balcony (the World’s Highest Weather Station).

Summit of Mt. Everest

This is the last step of ascending or climbing towards the summit of Mt. Everest. By today, you’ve accomplished the missions by surpassing numerous forthcoming challenges. The rip-roaring adventure to the summit of Mt. Everest will reward you with breathtaking panoramic views of the surroundings and give you insights into personal reflection and personal growth. This journey shall fill your heart and award you with a great sense of achievement and a tranquil time with nature.

Retrace to Everest Base Camp

The adventure has come to an end after reaching the top of the world. Now it demands descending through the same route and reaching Everest Base Camp. It is a challenging task to descend as well, which is why its important to maintain keen observation. The once-in-a-lifetime experience to the top of the world (Summit of Mt. Everest) will live as long as you thrive.

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Challenges during the expedition

Challenges during the expedition

Extreme Altitude

The Everest Balcony is situated closer to the summit of Mt. Everest and lies at an altitude of 8430m. As this journey demands your presence in above 8000 meters of altitude, there will be significant changes in the atmospheric pressure and oxygen level of the region. Ascending in altitude results in changing atmospheric pressure and if the body can’t adapt to such changes, it can be prone to Altitude sickness, which is also known as acute mountain sickness.

The common symptoms of altitude sickness are headache, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and dizziness. This can range from mild to extreme depending upon the conditions, and if the case worsens, it can lean towards High-altitude pulmonary edema (Hape) and High-altitude cerebral edema (Hace). Therefore, it is important to be mindful of such cases and maintain a steady pace during the journey. Also, acclimatizing properly along the expedition will help your body to adapt to the changing surroundings.

Unpredictable Climatic Conditions

The weather in the high Himalayan region can fluctuate despite favorable or unfavorable seasons. It is very crucial to be mindful of the unpredictable weather conditions of the Everest region and pack both winter and summer clothes. The temperature can fluctuate leading to numerous challenges like extreme coldness. This can further worsen and cause hypothermia and frostbite. Moreover, the heavy windstorm and snowfall can disrupt the journey and invite other challenges along the way. Therefore, it is important to check the weather forecast and be equipped with the necessary clothes and equipment to ensure a safe and secure experience.

Challenging Route and Physical Difficulties

We’ve already discussed the route of the Everest Balcony in detail. The route involves trekking and mountain climbing, which are both challenging and thrilling. Trekking involves risks like landslides, floods, slippery tracks, and others, while the mountain climbing route exposes you to extreme cold and hot temperatures. The route demands trailing through dense forests, Khumbu Icefalls, Western Cwm, Camp I, Camp II, Camp III, Camp IV, and many more that comprise technical sections.

This demands mountaineering skills and keen observation to navigate the path. The strenuous journey will obviously reward you with spectacular beauty and personal growth but the journey can pose challenges of physical difficulties. This involves tiredness, leg pain, back pain, headache, and joint pain. This can further result in low energy levels and accidents and injuries along the way. Therefore, it is important to be alert about such challenges, maintain a steady pace, and walk in groups or alongside an experienced guide to ensure a safe journey.

Natural Calamities (Avalananche, crevasses, falls)

This is another major challenge of the Everest Expedition or the Everest Balcony. Trekking to the high Himalayan region and climbing eight thousanders is no joke. This comes along with risks like avalanches, crevasses, falls, frostbite, and glacier surges. This is why it is important to maintain attentive observation and carefully step while climbing the mountain. It is essential to navigate the steep paths of mountains carefully and head everywhere in groups.

Places like North Col, Khumbu Icefalls, and South Col are risk areas of experiencing avalanches and crevasses. Moreover, carelessness, deprivation of energy, and extreme tiredness can lead to slipping the foot and causing falls. Therefore, this is the reason why you should consider a package from a suitable trekking and mountaineering agency. The experienced guide of such an agency will keep you safe from natural calamities by placing you in risk-free areas and navigating the path easily.

Oxygen Deprivation

Oxygen is a must for human beings to survive. As you ascend in altitude, the amount of oxygen keeps getting thinner. The death zone of this expedition lies at an extreme altitude, and the oxygen level there is extremely low to sustain human life. This is why climbing eight-thousanders demands the use of oxygen cylinders. Oxygen deprivation leads to poor adaptation to the surroundings and leads to damage to brain cells. This also decreases the ability to think and decision processing. Therefore it is important to carry oxygen supplements along before embarking on high mountain climbing.

Mental strain

This is another factor that can impact the rip-roaring adventure. The challenging journey to the summit of Mt. Everest demands mental resilience and sheer determination. This includes the ability to cope from anxiety and fear and show determination through smart moves. As the journey involves ascending to a higher altitude, it can cause hypoxia, which can impair the judgments. Such risks and challenges can put a strain on you, which is why it is important to be mentally prepared before heading for such a journey.

Necessary Preparation and Safety Tips

Necessary Preparation and Safety Tips

  • Be prepared physically and mentally before the journey
  • Consider practicing lightweight exercises like squats, deadlifts, pushups, pull-ups, chin-ups, crunches, and planks to enhance your strength. Along with that, also perform cardiovascular exercises like cycling, running, jogging, walking, swimming and trekking to build endurance.
  • Perform flexibility exercises and yoga to improve the mobility of your body.
  • Maintain a steady pace during the journey.
  • Acclimatize properly and stay hydrated.
  • The Everest Balcony region is challenging, and it demands mental stability, sheer determination, and navigation skills.
  • Have prior mountaineering experience and skills in using mountaineering tools
  • Carry necessary equipment and clothing
  • Hire an experienced guide and consider buying a package from renowned trekking and mountaineering agencies
  • Be attentive, cheerful, and determined

Ashish

Traveller, Travel Blogger and SEO Expert who combines his love for exploration with his talent for writing and digital marketing.

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