At the higher regions of Mount Everest, climbers seeking the summit typically spend substantial time within the death zone (altitudes higher than 8,000 metres (26,000 ft)), and face significant challenges to survival. Temperatures can dip to very low levels, resulting in frostbite of any body part exposed to the air. Since temperatures are so low, snow is well-frozen in certain areas and death or injury by slipping and falling can occur. High winds at these altitudes on Everest are also a potential threat to climbers.
The North Col was first climbed by George Mallory, Edward Oliver Wheeler and Guy Bullock on September 23, 1921. This was the first time a Westerner had set foot on Mount Everest itself. The North Col was discovered by Mallory while searching for possible routes to the summit of Mount Everest during the 1921 British Reconnaissance Expedition. All subsequent expeditions in the 1920s and 1930s attempted to reach the summit of Everest by using the North Col
Not only is the North Ridge technically difficult because of its terrain, but it also requires some particularly careful, even counter intuitive, planning. First of all, on the North Ridge climbers spend a lot of time on steeply sloping shale and ice, and “it’s tough to get your crampons into that stuff!” To make matters more difficult, the geography of the North Ridge requires the final camp to be at a much higher elevation than the final camp on the South Col. The result, “North Ridge climbers are forced to spend a lot more time at higher altitudes, and this in and of itself makes the route more demanding.”