Here's a breakdown of the unique risks of the mountain's two main routes:
Khumbu Icefalls: As the 2014 season illustrated, "the crux of the south side is negotiating the ice falls," Miller said. "The conditions there are so capricious; you never know what you're going to get in any given season or on any given day."
Crowds: The south side usually has double the number of climbers.
Summit day more challenging: The final summit push takes slightly longer on the south side, Arnette points out.
Living at high altitude: Whereas Base Camp on the South Side is at 18,192 feet, the advanced base camp on the North Side starts is at 21,300 feet. Just day-to-day living at that elevation is challenging, Miller said.
Rock: The north side features more technical rock climbing.
Helicopter rescues not permitted: Whereas on the south side, you can count on a helicopter rescue up to Camp 2, and the possibility of a helicopter+rope rescue up to 23,000 feet, the Chinese don't allow helicopters on the north side, so any rescue operation would likely involve being carried to the end of road on the back of yak or horse, and then a several hour drive to medical help, Arnette said.
More unknowns: "Operators on the south side have been running hundreds of people up and down the mountains since the mid-'90s; there's very little that's unknown. Most would consider the south side slightly safer because knowing the routes is a really big, big deal in mountain climbing," Arnette said.
Weather: The North side is often windier and chillier, according to Arnette.
The bottom line, Miller stressed, is that both sides are extremely dangerous.
"I think the public perception has been watered down" with media coverage of commercial guides on a crowded mountain, she said. "But when things go wrong above 25,000 feet, they tend to go very, very wrong. It's an incredibly dangerous undertaking. The mountain can have a very sharp tail."