- Mount Everest is experiencing its deadliest climbing season in recent years, with 11 climbers dying so far this year.
- Climbers face overcrowding, dead bodies, and a lack of empathy from other trekkers in an all-out battle to reach the top of the mountain.
- Rizza Alee, a climber from Kashmir, the disputed land between India and Pakistan, told The New York Times that people “are ready to kill themselves for the summit.”
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Mount Everest is too crowded, according to climbers, and that’s creating serious health and safety consequences.
Many have suffered after being trapped for hours in Mount Everest’s deadly “death zone,” where the altitude is above 8,000 meters and oxygen is so limited that the body’s cells begin to die. While climbers typically try to spend as little time as possible in that zone while attempting to reach the summit, the recent explosion of thrill seekers climbing the mountain has left them stuck for extended periods of time – and some are collapsing of exhaustion and dying as a result.
So far this year, 11 climbers, out of the around 600 people who have reached Everest’s summit, have died on the mountain, making 2019 the deadliest climbing season in recent years. In 2015, at least 19 people were killed due to an avalanche.
In addition to the crowds, fewer good days of weather, inexperienced climbers, and Nepal giving a record number of permits to trekkers wanting to climb Everest, have contributed to this year’s deadly season. As noted by The New York Times, Nepal doesn’t have strict rules about who can climb the mountain and has reaped the profits of a flourishing climbing market.
Despite the 11 deaths this year, Mohan Krishna Sapkota, secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, told the Associated Press that tourists and climbers should come “for both pleasure and fame.”
But, as demonstrated by this stunning photo, taken by climber Nirmal Purja, the various problems at Mount Everest are taking their toll.
If you use this image it would be appreciated if you could inform me & credit the photo @nimsdai Project Possible also please make a donation to the go fund me campaign.Promotion of #ProjectPossible would also be most welcome.https://t.co/wEYu8OHRwE, https://t.co/FVAZrnDSwI pic.twitter.com/eSZRCIsApb
— Nimsdai (@nimsdai) May 24, 2019
A scene from ‘Lord of the Flies’
At 29,000 feet, and in a scramble to reach the top – and take that ever important selfie – climbers are experiencing a scene straight out of “Lord of the Flies,” reports the Times.
“A lot of people were panicking, worrying about themselves – and nobody thinks about those who are collapsing,” Fatima Deryan, a climber from Lebanon, told the Times, adding that she saw climbers collapsing around her as temperatures dropped and oxygen tanks ran low. “It is a question of ethics… we are all on oxygen. You figure out that if you help, you are going to die.”
Rizza Alee, a climber from Kashmir, the disputed land between India and Pakistan, added “I saw some people like they had no emotion.”
“I asked people for water and one one gave me any,” he said. “People are really obsessed with the summit. They are ready to kill themselves for the summit.”
Dead bodies are a common sight
As Business Insider previously reported, dead bodies are a common sight on the top of the mountain.
Woody Hartman, a US climber from Denver, told the “TODAY Show” what it was like to see frozen bodies while on the trail.
“So I mean, you are already wrestling with your own fear of death and then you are seeing literally dead people strapped to the safety line that you are passing,” he said.
Climbers say that with good judgment, climbing deaths can be preventable. But, in a rush to reach the top, many avoid those fatal warning signs. “Everybody wants to stand on top of the world,” Mirza Ali, a Pakistani mountaineer, told the Associated Press, adding that unprepared tourists pose a risk to the entire climbing industry.
Ameesha Chauhan, an Indian climber who lost two team members while climbing the mountain in mid-May, agreed.
“If you took at it, the inexperienced climbers do not even know how to tie on the oxygen masks around their face,” she told the Associated Press. “Many climbers are too focused on reaching the summit.”
Despite the risks, however, eager climbers from all over continue to make the perilous journey to reach Everest’s summit. That was the case with 17-year-old Mrika Nikqa and her father, Arindi, from Kosovo.
“You know what, when you decide to come and climb Everest, you prepare yourself that you are going to see dead bodies,” she told CNN. “Maybe something can happen to you, your father, or whoever you’re climbing with, so you prepare. You see a dead body and it’s like, it’s OK. He’s gone. I don’t want to be like him; I have to move on.”
- Read more:
- In the wake of one of the deadliest seasons on record, Nepal is considering requiring prospective Everest climbers to provide proof of mountaineering experience
- THEN AND NOW: Photos show how climbing Mount Everest has morphed into a big, dangerous business in 6 decades
- What ‘summit fever’ and the spike in deaths on Mount Everest can teach you about the dark side of goals
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