Seven people have died this week alone on Mount Everest as climbers face heavy traffic at the mountain’s dangerous summit.
The AFP reported that Nepal issued a record 381 $US11,000 ($15,974) permits to hopeful mountaineers this spring in the country. Over 200 climbers attempted to reach the peak on Wednesday alone thanks to good weather, with one deceased climber waiting in the traffic for over 12 hours.
Phase one complete with a week to spare. I hope people are now believing. I hope the support continues and #ProjectPossible meets the funding and sponsorship we still need. Strange how a photo of a queue has had the biggest response so far!! pic.twitter.com/ZIOCYPCjzf
— Nirmal Purja MBE (@nimsdai) May 24, 2019
Thursday alone saw the deaths of Indian climbers Kalpana Dash, Anjali Kulkarni and Nihal Bagwan, and Austrian climber Ernst Landgraf, all from exhaustion after waiting in the line. American climber Donald Cash died on Wednesday of altitude sickness, as did Indian climber Ravi Thakar. Irish climber Seamus Lawless is presumed dead after a fall last Thursday.
Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, and its peak is uninhabitable for humans thanks to the high winds, avalanches, cold temperatures, and atmospheric pressure such that the concentration of oxygen is too low to support bodily functions.
Hundreds of climbers attempt to reach its summit annually, of which a handful die — more than 300 total, with at least one death occurring every year since 1977.
Death is a part of the climb, if not experienced personally — the mountain is littered with bodies too bulky to return, some of which have become grisly trail markers. I encourage you to read this BBC story by journalist Rachel Nuwer.
This year, Nepal released more permits than ever, plus 140 more permits from the Tibetan side of the mountain — 2019 might beat last year’s record of most people reaching the top. Most climbers are accompanied by a local guide.
The bottlenecks have likely arisen when climbers tried to reach the summit en masse after a window of good weather opened during a year of worse-than-usual winds, the BBC reports.
Permits are distributed lottery style, the BBC reports, and the rising numbers of climbers and bottlenecks have led to requests that the number of permits be limited by authorities. But, while Everest experiencing more climbers than ever has led to more deaths than ever, climbers certainly won’t stop attempting to summit.