South Col

South Col: 26,000 feet above sea level
The team has been at Camp VIII at South Col for nearly a month. This is the last ridge before the summit. Team members Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans attempt the final climb. They reach the South Summit at 1 p.m., but with only 328 feet to go, they encounter a blizzard and their oxygen systems begin to fail. Disappointed and exhausted, Bourdillon and Evans retreat all the way back to South Col, and describe the final route to the second assault team, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Do you think Hillary was worried that his equipment would also fail? Find out if he was ever scared or frightened while climbing Everest by reading our featured interview.

Bourdillon and Evans were not the first Everest climbers to have trouble reaching the summit. Get great Facts About Mt. Everest, and find out how many others have attempted the climb and what happened to them.

You're getting close! We'll be at Camp IX soon.

Activity Pack

Climbing Journal
Put yourself in Hillary's and Norgay's boots. If you were keeping a journal, what would you write as you prepare for the final assault? To see journals from more recent Everest climbers, check out NOVA's site.

It's tough to breathe at 26,000 feet. Whitney Stewart had a lung infection due to high-altitude climbing. Why do you think this is so? Why can the high altitude make a climber sick? Read the interview with Stewart and learn how it affected her attitude toward climbing.

Summit- the highest point.

Oxygen System- oxygen tanks carried by climbers. A closed system allows climbers to breathe pure oxygen from the tank; an open system allows climbers to breathe a mixture of pure oxygen and outside air.

Col- A depression or pass in a mountain range.

Photo: UPI/Bettman