The 2019 Mount Everest spring climbing season is becoming one of the deadliest on record, with 11 people having lost their lives on the mountain so far. Many experts blame overcrowding for the deaths. The longer people wait to summit, the longer they are exposed to the elements and the more fatigued they become. Adding to the chaos is a large number of tenderfoot climbers and their sherpas (guides), adding more congestion and mayhem to the situation.
Climbers have been filmed crushed together in a “human traffic jam” as they battle the elements in an attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Terrifying. https://t.co/pehNmJCPdP pic.twitter.com/nxVhADM0L8
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) May 30, 2019
“I have climbed Everest so many times, but this spring’s traffic jam was the worst,” said Tshering Jangbu Sherpa, an Everest sherpa, while speaking to reporters from The New York Times. “Many climbers who moved to the summit without extra supplement oxygen bottles suffered the most. They suffered because of the traffic jam, not because of wind and coldness.”
The most recent Everest victim is 62 year-old Christopher John Kulish, an attorney from Colorado and an experienced climber. According to a report from PEOPLE, Kulish died while descending the mountain and was close to camp when he collapsed. Authorities are still actively investigating the incident.
“We are heartbroken at this news. Chris, who turned 62 in April, went up with a very small group in nearly ideal weather after the crowds of last week had cleared Everest,” said his family in a statement. “He saw his last sunrise from the highest peak on Earth. At that instant, he became a member of the ‘7Summit Club’ having scaled the highest peak on each continent.”
In the wake of the 2019 climbing season’s high death toll, authorities in Nepal are considering measures to combat the influx of climbers on the world’s highest peak. According to a report from The New York Times, the Nepalese government may soon require Everest hopefuls to submit documentation of their climbing experiencing before granting a permit. Potential climbers may also have to prove their fitness and health as well. Still, many are skeptical the Nepalese government will take action to curb Everest tourism due to the huge sums foreign climbers pay to access the mountain.
“It would be great if inexperienced climbers were not allowed to climb Everest,” said Lakpa Dendi Sherpa, an Everest guide from Nepal, while speaking to the Times. “But who will do this? The government? I don’t think so. They can’t even remove the garbage from Everest. They do nothing other than collect revenue.”