If you are hoping to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, be prepared for a traffic jam.
There are amazing pictures going around the internet that show lines of climbers waiting for their turn to take pictures on the summit, which stands at 29,000 feet.
The Guardian reported that this season’s summit crowds are the worst since 2012. The weather has been terrible, which has left only five summit days in the month of May. This has caused hundreds of climbers to converge on several notorious sections where they can only pass one at a time.
An Everest blogger named Alan Arnette wrote the following: “In 2019, we are hearing horror stories of summit pushes from the South Col to the summit taking 10, 12, even 14 hours. And due to the jams, the return to the COL is taking up to another six hours, making for 20-hour pushes-that’s insane.”
It has been a deadly climbing season on Everest. There have been at least 11 deaths. Climbers have reported passing frozen dead bodies that had been there for a few days. Others have described selfish climbers who have been unwilling to assist climbers in need; those climbers were more concerned with getting the ultimate selfie on the summit than helping those in need of assistance.
The New York Times reported that “it seems that as the groups get closer to the summit, the pressures increase and some people lose their sense of decency. … A lot of people were panicking, worrying about themselves—and nobody thinks about those who are collapsing. … It’s a question of ethics. We are all on oxygen. You figure out that if you help, you are going to die.”
Many of these deaths are avoidable. Many of the climbers are inexperienced and are being led by inexperienced guides. There are companies who are less concerned with safety than they are with getting business. They have low safety standards and attract inexperienced climbers by offering them lower rates than their more professional competitors.
There are no uniform standards for climbing the mountain. There are no safety courses or fitness standards required to climb the mountain. This has caused problems on the slopes. Some of the hikers can’t put on basic equipment that would help with traction while climbing on ice.
Until better logistics and standards are implemented by the government of Nepal and the companies themselves, the lines and deaths are likely to continue. These deaths could be avoided with some simple changes. No one can control the weather, but human errors can be controlled. Many of the people climbing the mountain should not be doing so. They are putting other lives at risk.