Crowd Climbing Mount Everest

Rising slightly more than 29,000 feet into impossibly thin air, the peak of Mt. Everest quite simply has too little oxygen to sustain life for more than very short time, even for climbers who use supplemental oxygen bottles.

That’s a problem when 250-300 climbers are blocking the path down, still trying to complete their own ascent. Several climbers, having summited,  died this past week of exhaustion, oxygen deprivation and altitude sickness, waiting to be able to come down.

There isn’t a wide path to the summit, where people can pass each other coming and going. There’s one narrow, icy, slippery, rocky, nearly impassably steep path.

People who die up there pretty much stay put, becoming part of the frozen landscape because it’s too hard to get their bodies down.

I simply don’t get the climbing Everest mania. I begin to feel queasy and dizzy as low as 6000 feet or so, which I discovered many years ago when Jerry and I were in Switzerland and took a chair lift in the summer to a special Alpine dining spot that had been recommended as having a stunning view. I got off the chair lift, and that was the end of any prospect of eating for me. I couldn’t wait to go back down, where I recovered quickly.

Take a gander at this pic of climbers lined up trying to reach the top, and tell me if you’d go get in that line.

4 thoughts on “Crowd Climbing Mount Everest

  1. They have been trying to get them to reduce the number of permits given out so things like this don’t happen. But it’s a money-maker, and people keep dying. Not my way to go!

  2. The deaths on Mount Everest are tragic. There should be control over how many climbers can go in a period of time and physical requirements for those climbing. There are places that humans just should not go.

  3. for Phyllis: Me neither. Nothing about it sounds appealing. I saw Into Thin Air, about the climb where the experienced guide Rob Hall died on Everest because he gave way to a client who insisted on going forward to the summit even though it was too late in the afternoon and they were bound to be caught by nightfall coming down. They were caught by a terrible storm. The client fell off the mountain to his death, and Hall froze to death. In an IMax theater, the howling wind and blinding snow was terrible enough, never mind the actual mountain.

  4. for Katie: And this is one, except perhaps for the most experienced and fit climbers. And they die too.

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