Khumbu icefall

Khumbu Icefall Everest |Crevasse |Seracs


The glory that ascending the crown of the mighty Mount Everest can bring tops all other emotions one can ever feel. The realization that you have accomplished something that a very few have and ever will give one great solitude and spiritual seclusion. One needs to have extreme enthusiasm towards mountains and towards nature overall to decide to traverse in such a life-changing journey.

Even more, one has to be aware of the fact that summiting the top of the world is no joke and requires an unwavering determination as death can be a step away. One wrong step and Mount Everest is no more a dream; survival is. All the climbers who have perished in the quest of the Everest never planned anything as unfortunate as their own death yet they are no more with us. The bottom line of all this is that death or serious injury is a major possibility in the Everest expedition and is something to be contemplated on.


Khumbu Icefall is a river of moving ice and is considered to be the stepping stone to Everest and is a constituent of the Khumbu glacier. When glaciers move and fall over a steep drop, icefalls originate. Khumbu icefall, in particular, has an altitudinal range of 5200 meters to 5800 meters and is the result of the movement of the Khumbu glacier itself. Icefalls can be common in all of the regions of the glaciers.

Avalanches and icefalls often swallow the aspirants and devotees of the very mountain. That’s the reason this particular icefall is taken as a standout point by climbers and adventurers. Unbelievably huge ice towers termed as seracs can appear without any hint and destroy the Everest dream along with the dreamer. It is calculated that the hardened ice debris moves 3-4 ft every day and that’s the reason icefalls occur in the first place.

Since this entire region is so perilous, most climbers plan to triumph the icefall amid the early morning and amid  the night when the ice is not prone to Sun. When the Sun heats the ice, crevasses can appear easily and leave no reaction time for the climbers. Experienced acclimatized climbers can pass the icefall in a matter of hours, while climbers who lack enough experience and acclimatization can ask for longer durations of time.

Everest Base Camp 1 is past the highest point of the Khumbu Icefall. Climbers passing the region above Everest Base Camp witness flying sheets of ice and debris once in a while. This is not a matter to be taken lightly as things can get serious pretty quick. Since acclimatization is an everyday thing to do en route to the Everest, Khumbu Icefall needs to be crossed and returned back over and over again in a span of a few weeks. This must-do acclimatization procedure becomes even more dubious when the deadly route needs to be repeated multiple times.

Hundreds of climbers perish every year here because of deaths related to illnesses, frostbite, pulmonary edema and so on but the bodies do not disappear completely because the completely preserved lifeless bodies re-emerge as the glacier moves. Bodies as such act as markers for climbers and summiteers. Bodies of mountaineers who tried to scale Everest 20 years back can even be found today in a solidified state and without any decay as if the person died yesterday only.


A crevasse is simply a deep crack in a glacier. When parts of a glacier move in different terrains, cracks appear because of the tension the glacier has to go through. Also, when a glacier moves through a narrow channel, the sides do not move much but the middle can move more much freely. The uneven pace of the glacier parts contributes to crevasses opening. Crevasses have a size range of just half a meter to as wide as 20 meters and a depth range starting from a meter to as deep as 45 meters. For a better understanding, let’s say the average size of a crevasse can be 1⁄2 meter to 5 meters and depth a few meters… Crevasses with a higher size range can without any hint of presence, take lives. Another threat in crevasses is the illusion of the infamous snow-bridge. Mountaineers and Climbers can get deluded by the thin crust of ice that forms across the opening of the crevasse. The snow can then make the cover look like a climbing trail and climbers can fall there and even lose their lives. That’s the reason climbers are always connected to each other with a rope. Ladders serve a significant purpose as well. Crevasses, on the other hand, create Seracs. When two crevasses meet, the block of ice in between falls which are called a serac which can be as high as 10 meters. Mountaineers are in a constant threat from seracs too.


Items such as mountaineering boots, crampons, a climbing helmet and an ice axe are must-have items for a climb as
demanding as Everest. Since we will deal with glaciers as well, we’ll need a rope, harness and crevasse rescue equipment to protect against crevasse falls. Also, technologies like an altimeter watch and a navigation tool can
come real handy.