At Their Peak: 5 Extreme Animals Who Can Survive Mount Everest

Mount Everest is the highest mountain on Earth. Many men and women have spent their lives dreaming of climbing its summit and setting foot on such a legendary and extreme place.

There are some, however, who wake up on Mount Everest every day and think — presumably — nothing of it. These are the animals who actually call Mount Everest home.

While these creatures don’t generally spend their time standing at the peak’s tallest point, their ranges along the mountain’s slopes vary. It’s simply remarkable that while humans require extensive preparation and special protection for this rigorous climb, certain species have adapted and evolved to thrive here.


1. Himalayan tahr

Hemitragus jemlahicus Jharal

Himalayan tahr in Nepal

This relative of the wild goat is specially adapted to life on the rugged mountain slopes of the Himalayas. The tahr’s range, depending on the season and the time of day, is between 2,500 and 5,000 meters in elevation. The animals manage to live in this extreme environment because of their dense woolly coat and thick undercoat. In the summer, tahrs shed much of this fur, even becoming a lighter color. Their hooves, as with many goats, help them traverse the steep mountainside. Tahrs, in particular, have flexible, rubbery cores in their hooves to allow for a solid grip on smooth rocks. Meanwhile, the hard, sharp keratin rims on the outside of their hooves allows them to lodge their feet in small footholds, keeping them upright.

2. Snow leopard

Snow leopard

Snow leopard, Photo credit: Greg Hume

Snow leopards in this area generally live between 3,000 and 4,500 meters in elevation, and their bodies are perfectly suited for it. To start with, they have stocky bodies with thick fur and small, rounded ears — all of which helps these cats minimize heat loss. Snow leopard paws are wide, distributing their weight for walking on snow, and they have fur on their undersides to increase their grip as they move. Their tails have also been specially evolved as blankets: they are extra thick and very fuzzy — perfect for protecting their faces while sleeping. Snow leopards are even able to breathe the thin air more easily with their unusually large nasal cavities.

3. Himalayan black bear

Himalayan bear

Himalayan black bear, Photo credit: JoyDeep

This rare subspecies of the Asiatic black bear lives in the range of 3,000 to 4,000 meters in the summer. In the winter, the bear moves down to 1,500 meters in the winter, preferring to stay around the tree line. Himalayan black bears have longer, thicker fun than their other Asian black bear cousins. These creatures manage the cold, as many bears do, by hibernating through the worst parts of the winter.

4. Alpine chough

Pyrrhocorax graculus

Alpine chough, Photo credit: Matthias Bigge

The alpine chough, flying and living high above the world, is a part of the crow family. Although they naturally fly quite a bit higher, these birds nest between 3,500-5,000 meters up in the Himalayas. As far as we know, the chough has nested at 6,500 meters — higher than any other bird species. It has even been observed following mountaineers as they ascend Mount Everest. They are quite fond of humans sometimes, as they like to sit outside hotel windows and wait for any food they can get from tourists.

5. Himalayan jumping spider

jumping spider

Jumping spider related to the Himalayan jumping spider, Photo credit: Atalanta

This spider really is above the rest in a fairly literal way: it lives at altitudes even beyond the other animals on this list. And the Himalayan jumping spider is known to live at a higher elevation than any other animal. Fittingly, its scientific name, Euophrys omnisuperstes, means “standing above all.” This small spider hides in crevices high up on the mountain at elevations up to 6,700 meters. But what does it eat? The answer, as far as experts can tell, is frozen insects delivered by the wind.

Photo Credit: Kalle K/Unsplash

90 comments

Melania P
Melania P8 days ago

Awesome adaptation and evolution

SEND
Margie F
Margie FOURIE24 days ago

Thanks again

SEND
Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE24 days ago

All such beautiful animals. Perhaps it is the thin air?

SEND
Treva Slark
Treva Slarkabout a month ago

Lovely article - I really ejoyed it. Thank you !

SEND
W. C
W. Cabout a month ago

Thanks.

SEND
Georgina M
Georgina Mabout a month ago

Very interesting I love the Himalayan Black Bear. tyfs

SEND
heather g
heather gabout a month ago

I watched a nature movie on Tahrs earlier today. They are able to make their way down virtually vertical slopes of the mountains - and by instinct, their little lambs follow the ewes.

SEND
ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA Rabout a month ago

💕5 Majestic Mountain Miracles💕 Thank you.

SEND
Shirley S
Shirley Sabout a month ago

Very hardy exceptional creatures.

SEND
earthism info
earthism infoabout a month ago

good article

SEND