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US NewsTraffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest

04:50  30 may  2019
04:50  30 may  2019 Source:   nationalgeographic.com

Sherpa guide breaks own record by climbing Everest for 24th time

Sherpa guide breaks own record by climbing Everest for 24th time Kami Rita is targeting 25 ascents of Everest before he retires from high mountain climbing. Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing. Gallery: Here's what it's like to live at Everest base camp (National Geographic) Rita first scaled Everest in 1994 and has been making the trip nearly every year since. His father was among the first Sherpa guides employed to help climbers reach the summit, and Rita followed in his footsteps.

On Monday, Christopher Kulish, a 62-year-old attorney from Boulder, Colorado, died at Camp 4, located on the South Col at 26,000 feet, after returning from the summit of Mount Everest . According to Kulish’s brother, an initial assessment indicates Kulish died of cardiac arrest, not altitude sickness.

Many veteran climbers attribute Everest ’s problems to the proliferation of cheaper expedition companies that have popped up across Kathmandu in “It is like you see people rafting in Colorado, or the Ganges in India — it’s the guide who does the rafting, the rest of the people are just passengers

Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest © Photograph by Mark Fisher/Fisher Creative, National Geographic

Climbers line up to move through the Khumbu Icefall, one of the most dangerous sections alpinists must traverse when attempting Mount Everest.

On Monday, Christopher Kulish, a 62-year-old attorney from Boulder, Colorado, died at Camp 4, located on the South Col at 26,000 feet, after returning from the summit of Mount Everest. According to Kulish’s brother, an initial assessment indicates Kulish died of cardiac arrest, not altitude sickness.

His death brings the number of fatalities on Mount Everest this season to 11 and raises the full death toll on Himalayan 8,000 meter peaks this spring to 21. With several more days remaining in the climbing season—which effectively ends when the monsoon arrives sometime the first week in June—it is possible the number will continue to rise.

Three Indian climbers die on crowded slopes of Mount Everest

Three Indian climbers die on crowded slopes of Mount Everest Three Indian climbers die on crowded slopes of Mount Everest

“ Everest cannot be climbed just based on one ’s wishes,” Yogesh Bhattarai, the tourism minister, said at a news conference. The announcement came several months after one of the deadliest Everest climbing seasons in recent Eleven climbers died, despite facing no major avalanche or earthquake.

JUST WATCHED. The human impact on Everest . Indian climber Anjali Kulkarni, 55, died on her way back from climbing to the summit of Mount Everest on Wednesday, her Climber Nirmal Purja posted a picture on Instagram of the heavy human traffic on the mountain Wednesday, showing a

A photo captured last week by Nepali mountaineer Nirmal Purja Magar showed a near continuous line of hundreds of climbers bottlenecked on the summit ridge of Everest—all trying to take advantage of a narrow window of good weather. The image went viral, sparking an instant debate about whether the mountain is too crowded and forcing a difficult, if familiar, discussion about whether the high number of casualties was due to too many climbers.

Most of those guides and clients depicted in the photo have since left base camp and are now beginning to share their stories. There’s no consensus.

Watch: Guide warns against dangers of 'human ego' on Everest (AFP)


On one end of the spectrum, Elia Saikaly, a Canadian cinematographer, posted the following report on Instagram: “I cannot believe what I saw up there. Death. Carnage. Chaos. Lineups. Dead bodies on the route and in tents at camp four. People who I tried to turn back who ended up dying. People being dragged down. Walking over bodies. Everything you read in the sensational headlines all played out on our summit night.” That caption has since been deleted.

'He got his goal': British climber is latest to die on Everest

'He got his goal': British climber is latest to die on Everest A British climber has become the latest to die on Mount Everest - where 10 people are said to have died in the last few weeks. Dozens of climbers have been making the assault on the summit in the narrow window of opportunity when weather conditions are good enough. Robert Haynes Fisher, 44, is reported to have made the top of the world's highest mountain but died 150 metres (almost 500ft) below on his way back down. According to the expeditionary company's Murari Sharma, Mr Fisher "suddenly fell down" when returning from the summit.

Everest is plagued by a glut of inexperienced climbers who push themselves too hard, Ang Tshering, president of the For starters, authorities could mandate smaller teams to reduce traffic jams and monitor and cap the weight of Political instability lies at the heart of the problems facing Everest .

Indian climber Anjali Kulkarni was on her way down, after having successfully reached the Mount Everest summit, when she collapsed. Nirmal Pujra, a climber , shared a preview of exactly how damn dangerous the human traffic jam can be on his Instagram, showing the queue to the top of the

Others strike a more mundane note: “It was like standing in line on a busy weekend at a ski resort,” says Dirk Collins, a Wyoming-based filmmaker working with the National Geographic Society. “Frustrating, but mostly boring—not what you expect—to have to stand in line on Everest.” The National Geographic Society-led team had planned to summit but turned back due to the crowds.

Yet some veteran guides are pushing back against the narrative that the lines are killing people, saying the line is a symptom of bigger problems and not the direct cause of most of the deaths.

“That storyline is just false,” says American Ben Jones, a guide for Alpine Ascents International. “None of the [fatalities] I know of died because they were waiting in line... These are mostly decision-making issues.”

What it’s like to wait in line at 28,000 feet

Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest © Photograph by @nimsdai Project Possible

Nepali climber Nirmal Purja Magar posted to Instagram this photo of the crowds attempting to reach the summit. It quickly went viral and sparked debate on overcrowding issues on the mountain.

Nepal Says Everest Rules Might Change After Traffic Jams and Deaths

Nepal Says Everest Rules Might Change After Traffic Jams and Deaths KATHMANDU, Nepal — After human traffic jams at the top of Mount Everest and an aggressive, unruly atmosphere that has been likened to “a zoo,” Nepalese officials said on Wednesday that they were considering changing the rules about who was allowed up the world’s highest mountain. “It’s time to review all the old laws,” said Yagya Raj Sunuwar, a member of Parliament. Until now, just about anyone could get a permit to climb Mount Everest. But this year has been marred by pileups at the top and a surge of inexperienced climbers.

Image caption A " traffic jam " of climbers en route to the summit. "It isn't a wilderness experience - it's a McDonald's experience," says Graham Hoyland, an experienced mountaineer and author of The Last Hours on Everest , an account of the ill-fated 1924 ascent by George Mallory and Andrew Irvine.

"The major problem is inexperience, not only of the climbers that are on the mountain but also the operators supporting those climbers ," veteran So far, 11 people have died on Everest this season. Although the experience was clearly troubling for Hartman, he says it hasn’t diminished his love of

The problem was not limited to one day. Jones helped lead his commercial team to the summit on May 23rd, the day after the infamous photo was taken. “There were two people holding up a line of 50. That was the only problem we had," he says. "They would not move over and let people pass.” Jones estimates it cost the bulk of those waiting about two hours.

“It was just standing still waiting for two people to move over, and they wouldn’t,” Jones continues. In a recent post, longtime Everest blogger Alan Arnette calculated that five of the 11 deaths this season on Everest may have been related to the crowds.

“If you keep going to the summit when you don’t have enough oxygen to get back down, that’s poor decision making,” said Jones’s fellow Alpine Ascents guide, Eric Murphy. “When we’re standing there waiting for these people to go, we lower the oxygen flow down a bit to make sure we’re not going to run out,” Murphy said, describing how his team conserved the bottled oxygen needed for the highest parts of the mountain.

According to Murphy, the slow-moving lines are a leadership issue as much as anything else. “If [the slow climbers] have a Sherpa with them, really that Sherpa should say let’s step aside, let’s rest a little it, and let’s let people pass,” he said, adding, “It puts too much responsibility on a lot of the Sherpa.”

As Everest Melts, Bodies Are Emerging From the Ice

As Everest Melts, Bodies Are Emerging From the Ice KATHMANDU, Nepal — A few years ago, Kami Rita Sherpa, a veteran climber and guide, met with a gruesome sight at Mount Everest Base Camp. Human bones poked from the ground, smooth and ice-crusted. It was not a fluke. Subsequent seasons yielded more remains — a skull, fingers, parts of legs. Guides increasingly believe that their findings fit into a broader development on the world’s highest mountain: A hotter climate has been unearthing climbers who never made it home. “Snow is melting and bodies are surfacing,” said Mr. Sherpa, who has summited Everest 24 times, a world record. “Finding bones has become the new normal for us.

A huge queue of climbers has formed near the summit of Mount Everest as expedition organisers Thursday reported two more deaths on the world's An American and Indian climber are the latest fatalities, their expedition organisers said, on one of the busiest-ever days on the the 8,848-metre (29

Also, more tragedy on Mount Everest as yet another climber dies. This comes as shocking pictures are published of a human traffic jam on the mountain. Meanwhile, a German newspaper offers its readers a paper kippa to fight against anti-Semitism. And Serena Williams sets tongues wagging with her

Gallery: Triumph and tragedy on Mount Everest (USA Today)

Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest

Murphy also pointed to nuances in climbing techniques that slowed down traffic flow. “Some guys clip into every rope with an ascender, even on flat terrain,” he said. An ascender clips onto a fixed rope and prevents a climber from sliding down—when the terrain is flat a regular carabiner is faster and relatively safe as well. The process of attaching and unattaching an ascender might add 10 or 15 seconds for each transition. One Everest climber estimates there are about 500-600 transitions, which equates to roughly two hours or more, some of which could be saved with the simpler process. “That is way slower than just clipping into the rope with a carabiner.”

“The crowds is a headline... It's the lack of experience among people on the mountain,” says Mark Fischer, an experienced guide who was also a member of the National Geography Society-led science team. “People didn't seem to know things like taking care of themselves, being efficient with climbing skills, and being properly prepared for the environment.”

Another issue that impacted the number of climbers high on the mountain relates to the weather forecasts. Everest typically has 10-15 days of relatively calm weather in May for climbers to attempt a summit climb. This season, the remnants of Cyclone Fani struck the Himalaya the first week of May, delaying for a few days the climbing Sherpa team that sets up a series of fixed ropes used to reach the summit. After the route was opened to the summit on May 14th, the weather remained unpredictable, with blustery winds averaging between 40-60 miles per hour (safe speeds are generally less than 30 miles per hour) and below-average temperatures threatening many days in the usual summit window. Then around May 19th, the weather models completely changed, and one of the best looking days in the predictions, May 24th, suddenly changed into the worst. With sustained winds over 60 miles per hour predicted, many teams moved their summit attempts up to May 22nd or 23rd.

'Bleak' chance of finding missing climbers alive, say officials

'Bleak' chance of finding missing climbers alive, say officials Indian officials have said the chance of finding eight missing climbers - including four Britons - alive in the Himalayas is "bleak". The group were attempting to reach the summit of India's second-highest peak Nanda Devi in Uttarakhand, according to local media reports. Two Indian air force helicopters and a rescue team have been searching the region for survivors for two days now after the climbers failed to return to their base camp. Other climbers in the group who had turned back earlier from the trek alerted the authorities on Friday night.

Avoiding rush hour the new normal

Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest © Photograph by National Geographic

Expedition teams use a series of camps to rest up at camp three before moving farther up the mountain to their next stop at camp four, before their final push for the summit.

Official final numbers for the 2019 Everest season have yet to come in, but it seems likely that this year will be a record season in terms of summiteers. The Nepalese government issued 381 permits this season according to latest reports—a record—with approximately another 140 permitted climbers attempting the peak from Tibet. (Professional climbing Sherpas working on the mountain are not included in this tally.) Alan Arnette is reporting an unofficial number of more than 700 summiteers this year, which includes climbing Sherpas; the record, set in 2018, stands at 802.

China minimizes the problem of crowding on their side of Everest by issuing far fewer permits, and many outfitters have moved their operations to the China side of the mountain.

The issue isn't just the sheer numbers, but the quality of some guide services serving the influx of climbers on the Nepal side. “The biggest problem, I think, on Everest in general—and people aren’t going to like to hear this—it’s the local companies that are taking inexperienced people, incompetent people, and pulling them up mountain,” Jones says.

Fifteen of the 21 climbers who died on 8,000-meter peaks this year were clients of Nepali-organized expeditions versus international guide services working in conjunction with a local outfitter.

Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest

Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest

Gallery: Beyond Everest - Nine peaks to summit in a lifetime

Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest
Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest

“We strategize constantly about how to avoid the crowds,” Jones explains. “Leaving camp a few hours earlier or later can change your day completely. It’s just another layer to decision-making on Everest... The Western guide services communicate with each other, the other operators not so much…”

Clean-up on Mount Everest removes 24,000lbs of rubbish and four dead bodies

Clean-up on Mount Everest removes 24,000lbs of rubbish and four dead bodies A clean-up expedition on Mount Everest has removed 24,200lb of rubbish and four dead bodies from the world’s highest mountain, according to Nepalese officials. The clean-up initiative was launched in April and a team of 12 Sherpa climbers spent a month collecting food wrappings, cans, bottles and empty oxygen cylinders. Some of the waste from the mountain, which rises 8,848 metres above sea level, was flown to Kathmandu and handed to recyclers in a ceremony to officially conclude the cleaning campaign. © Provided by Oath Inc. Nepali workers pile up sacks of waste collected from Mount Everest for recycling, in Kathmandu on June 5, 2019.

It is a sensitive issue because the lucrative climbing industry in Nepal has long been dominated by Western guides and only in the past decade or so have Nepali-owned companies begun to make significant inroads, largely by charging far less than their foreign counterparts and catering to the lower end of the growing market of clients wanting to be guided up the world's tallest mountain.

If the crowds aren’t directly culpable for killing people, they are unquestionably responsible for increasing the risks by necessitating longer summit days—indelibly changing the dynamic of climbing Everest.

One of the few elite climbers on the Nepal side of Everest this season was German alpinist David Goettler, who attempted to climb the mountain without supplemental oxygen, a style favored by purists but one that increases the possibility of frostbite and altitude sickness and demands perfect conditions. Goettler was ultimately forced to turn around about 200 meters from the top. He was unwilling to accept the risks of continuing on because of the crowds.

“Even if I say, I want to go down now, suddenly I have to stand in line with all the other people going down, and I can’t move fast enough to stay warm,” Goettler explains. “It was a risk which I was not willing to take, which could very well lead to catastrophe…”

Traffic jams are just one of the problems facing climbers on Everest © Photograph by Mark Fisher/Fisher Creative, National Geographic

Expedition teams make their way along a part of the route known as the Balcony toward the summit of Mount Everest. In 2019, Nepal issued a record number 381 climbing permits and a roughly similar number of permits to guides and Sherpas, contributing to crowding on the mountain.

Goettler continues: “[The experience] was what I expected… I think it’s dishonest to go to Everest and complain about the crowds and skills. Of course, it reads nice in the media, but it’s the same I see on Mount Blanc and the Matterhorn. We professionals tell the world about how wonderful it is to explore these places. Of course, crowds will come.”

Both Ben Jones and Eric Murphy lament the negative headlines Everest continues to generate, noting they'd climbed with some of their clients for over a decade. “When you build the relationships, the comradery [we have] to reach that goal is something special,” Murphy reflects.

“When we go back home friends and family are asking what goes on up there, because all they hear are all these negative articles that come out every single year... and in my mind, it's just not true,” Jones says. “In mountaineering, it's never one decision that causes a negative outcome, it's a series of bad decisions.”

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Clean-up on Mount Everest removes 24,000lbs of rubbish and four dead bodies.
A clean-up expedition on Mount Everest has removed 24,200lb of rubbish and four dead bodies from the world’s highest mountain, according to Nepalese officials. The clean-up initiative was launched in April and a team of 12 Sherpa climbers spent a month collecting food wrappings, cans, bottles and empty oxygen cylinders. Some of the waste from the mountain, which rises 8,848 metres above sea level, was flown to Kathmandu and handed to recyclers in a ceremony to officially conclude the cleaning campaign. © Provided by Oath Inc. Nepali workers pile up sacks of waste collected from Mount Everest for recycling, in Kathmandu on June 5, 2019.

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