The Red & Black

Overcrowding on Mt. Everest Claims 11 Lives


Let us begin at explaining what it takes to climb Mount Everest. You would need to go during the brief climbing window during the spring and early summer.

This year’s window, however, was exceptionally short, contributing to the overcrowding. You would then need to pick your route: either up the South Col in Nepal or the North Col in Tibet.

Most people choose the South Col route as climbing in Tibet has become much more expensive in the last few years as the Chinese government has made a point of limiting the number of climbers on the mountain.

Climbers fly into the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu and then into the village of Lukla to start their journey to basecamp. “Basecamp” is a slightly misleading term, however, as it is at an altitude of 17,000 feet.

You would also need to shell out quite a bit of cash as climbers spend anywhere from $35,000 to $100,000 per ascent.

Now we move on to the issue at hand: overcrowding.

The main problem lies in timing. The climbing window opened late and will close early as the monsoon season is predicted to arrive earlier than expected. This has caused a massive backup on the mountain.

At one point, there were more than 75 people in Everest’s “death zone.” The menacing name is completely accurate as well with most fatalities on the mountain occurring in the last 3,000 vertical feet.

The picture from the top that went viral a few weeks ago vividly shows the extent of the problem. People are truly climbing over dead bodies because there is nowhere else to go.

Experienced climbers have been virtually screaming at the Nepalese government to do something about similar issues over the last few years but to no avail.

Although, this time, there appears to be some movement. There have been calls to limit the number of people allowed on the mountain at one time.

The idea with the most momentum has been to have climbers qualify to make the trek, similar to qualification processes for marathons or Ironman races.

At this point, however, nothing is clear. Nature is a powerful thing. If you bother it, it will bother you.