Northern approach to Mount Everest from Tibet
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Northern approach to Mount Everest from Tibet

January 20, 2011
Photographed by an Expedition 26 crew member on the International Space Station, this detailed photograph highlights the northern approach to Mount Everest from Tibet. Known as the northeast ridge route, climbers travel along the East Rongbuk Glacier (top right) to camp at the base of Changtse mountain. From this point at approximately 6,100 meters above sea level, the North Col--a sharp-edged pass carved by glaciers, center--is ascended to reach a series of progressively higher camps along the North Face of Everest, culminating in Camp VI at 8,230 meters above sea level. Climbers make their final push to the summit (not visible, just off the bottom edge of the image) from this altitude. While the near-nadir viewing angle--almost looking "straight down" from the International Space Station--tends to flatten the topography, crew members have also taken images that highlight the rugged nature of the area. Everest (or Sagarmatha in Nepali), located within the Himalaya mountain chain, is Earth's highest mountain with its summit at 8,848 meters above sea level. Khumbutse mountain, visible at top left, has a summit elevation of 6,640 meters above sea level. 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 fatalities.

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