- At least 11 people have died on Mount Everest this climbing season, which has largely been blamed on overcrowding.
- There was congestion on the summit because climbers have had few clear-weather windows to scale the mountain than usual.
- Nepal also gave out a record number of permits as China restricted authorizations to its side of the Everest.
- Increasing commercialization allows inexperienced trekkers to climb the mountain.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
At least 11 people have died on Mount Everest this year, making it the deadliest climbing season the world’s highest mountain has seen since 2015.
The deaths have largely been blamed on overcrowding. There were so many trekkers trying to reach the summit last week that many were stranded in line for hours.
Every minute counts when climbers are getting through this “death zone,” an area so called because it is more than 8,000 meters (26,000 feet) above sea level, where there is not enough oxygen for humans to survive.
If climbers spend too much time in the zone, they risk developing high altitude edemas, where the lungs or brain fill with liquid.
Here are the reasons Mount Everest was overrun with climbers this season.
There were few days of good weather
May is generally considered the best month of the year to climb Everest, and climbers started arriving at the base camp early in the month. But the weather only became clear enough to scale the mountain by May 19 and 20 because of Cyclone Fani, according to BBC News.
Fani, which devastated parts of India and Bangladesh, also brought strong winds to the Nepalese Himalayas, the BBC reported. That means authorities had to suspend climbing activities for at least two days, and even call back some people who had already left the base camp.
The bad weather also delayed plans to fix the bolted ropes that guide the climbers to the summit, the BBC said.
During this delay, the base camp backed up with new arrivals.
Nepal gave out a record number of permits to climb the mountain
Nepal issued a record 381 permits to climb Mount Everest this year, according to The Associated Press. An equal number of guides from the local Sherpa community accompanied these trekkers.
The Himalayan nation does not have any official regulations to determine who receives a permit, tourism secretary Mohan Krishna Sapkota told the AP. Prospective climbers who put down the $US11,000 fee only need a doctor’s note to receive the authorization.
Nepal has also been giving out more permits because China, which controls the other side of Mount Everest has restricted the number it gives out, the AP reported. The north side of the mountain, which is in China, is being cleaned of empty oxygen tanks and trash this year.
The Everest climbing market is booming
Mount Everest’s popularity has not only attracted a record number of climbers to its summit this year. The huge demand has a growing number of expedition companies competing against each other for business – with some cutting the fees they charge to gain an advantage.
As more hobby mountaineers can afford to scale the mountain, the routes are increasingly filled with inexperienced climbers,according to the AP.
Eric Murphy, a Washington guide who climbed Everest for the third time last week, told the news organisation that even a small number of inexperienced people is “enough to have a profound effect.”
Climbers struggle so much in the death zone that they might not have the energy to help another person, he said.
The plummeting prices charged by expedition companies leaves less money for the companies to pay their guides.
Tshering Pande Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association, told the BBC that the competition is forcing agencies to hire inexperienced mountaineers.
“Unfortunately the competition is for volume and not for quality,” he said.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.