What is the Reason Behind the Increased Death Toll at Mount Everest?
As the climbing season for this year commenced, Mount Everest – the world’s highest peak at a breathtaking height of 8,848 m – recorded a rise in the fatalities.
A total of 11 people have died till now in the expedition to summit the world’s highest mountain above sea level. While many mountaineers experienced death this year, among them were two Americans, 62-year-old Christopher Kulish and 55-year-old Don Cash, who died due to altitude sickness.
In order to summit the highest peak of the world, May is considered to be the best time. But even in May, there are only a few days that have favourable weather conditions to complete the summit. With the release in the number of deaths this season and a photograph revealing traffic of the mountaineers to summit the peak, there has been a continuous debacle over the probable causes of the deaths.
A number of reasons like increase in the number of permits issued to climb Mount Everest, inexperienced climbers and a short weather window are some of the probable factors leading to the highest number of deaths since the avalanche in 2014, which claimed 16 lives.
According to Fatima Deryan, first Lebanese woman to summit Everest, inexperienced climbers and overcrowding on the mountain are among the major factors responsible for the increased number of deaths.
“I could see the summit, it was minutes away, but it took almost two hours to get there,” Deryan said.
“It was horrible, stressful, dangerous – it was like waiting in a queue in a small, messy airport. You move in tiny increments,” she continued. “I was very cold and worried about frostbite,” she added.
Chinese government’s stance on the permits to scale Mount Everest is getting strict more than ever. While they have imposed a limit on the permits, the government of Nepal is issuing permits blindly. The only condition to receive a permit from the Nepalese government is a fee of $11,000 and signature of a doctor.
Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world, has its economy somewhat dependent upon the mountain climbing industry. Each year, the industry contributes $300 million to the economy of Nepal, thus revealing a factor which no government can compromise upon.
While this has led to increase in the traffic to summit the world’s highest peak, it has also caused increase in the amount of trash left behind and disclosure of other sides like issues with the gas cylinders.
Kami Rita Sherpa, the only person to have scaled the peak 24 times, believes that inexperienced mountaineers are the prime reason for the increase in deaths this season at Mount Everest. He also added that overcrowding, bad weather and a record number of permits being issued are also the contributing factors.
While the blame-game continues, it seems that taking precautionary measures and understanding the causes would prevent this from happening again. Combined efforts from mountaineers, Sherpa, mountain climbing institutes, and governments might obliterate the chances of reading about another death stories from Mount Everest.
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