The summit of Mt. Everest is the highest elevation above sea level on planet Earth, and its name has entered the language as a metaphor for the ultimate of anything.
Mt. Everest is not particularly steep or jagged. Instead, it is a simply massive three-sided pyramid of incredible bulk, mostly dark-colored rock. Three ridges (North, West, and Southeast) and three faces (Rongpu, Kangshung, and Southwest) form the basic outline of the mountain, making it topographically very simple in comparison to other major peaks. The Southeast Ridge, route of the first ascent, is the only ridge leading to a substantial buttressing peak, Lhotse (27,890/8501m), the fourth highest peak in the world.
Altitude and weather are the main obstacles to summiting Everest. The mountaineering challenges are among the most famous in the world: the Hillary step on the southeast ridge, the first and second steps on the north ridge, the icy Hornbein colouir near the West Ridge, and the rotten Yellow Band of rock that cuts across the entire mountain.
Hundreds of climbers attempt the summit, most in May, when the weather is most favorable. Guide services will get you into position for a summit attempt for up to $70,000.