FOR THE WEEK OF JUNE 03, 2019
Deadly season: Do too many thrill-seekers try to climb Mount Everest?
Look for coverage or a photo of something else that can be risky, even at lower altitudes. Why do people like it?
Find an outdoor recreation or adventure story closer to home. Have you done or want to try that activity?
Now read other foreign news and share a few tidbits.
Some of us find thrills on roller coasters, skateboards, water skis or watching extreme sports. At a far different level, a relatively small number of wealthy adventurers pay big bucks for guided expeditions on Mount Everest – a 29,000-foot peak in Nepal (a South Asian country) that is Earth's highest mountain. It's in a range called the Himalayas (pronounced HIMM-ahh-LAY-ahhs) and may be dangerously popular. At least 11 people have died on the mountain this springtime climbing season, its fourth-deadliest year and the highest toll since a 2015 avalanche killed 21 people at a base camp level.
Everest's main danger used to be its remote location, difficult terrain and rough weather. One of its threats now is the mountain's accessibility to less experienced adventure-seekers who can afford escorted trips. Nepal issued a record 381 climbing permits this year, not counting guides and porters. A narrow window of good weather decreased opportunities for a safe climb, swelling the number of people on the route on days without storms – causing dangerous delays on the narrow final route in a steep, dizzying area called "the death zone." (See video below.) Ed Dohring, an Arizona doctor who made the climb recently, says he had to wait hours in a line on an icy, rocky ridge. "It was scary," he tells The New York Times by phone from Nepal. "It was like a zoo."
New companies take up untrained climbers and Nepal's government – which benefits from high fees -- issues more permits than Everest can safely handle, some experienced mountaineers say. It doesn’t set requirements for training hours or physical exams, which China does for access from Tibet on another side of the mountain. "You have to qualify to do the Ironman but you don't have to qualify to climb the highest mountain in the world? What's wrong with this picture?" asks Alan Arnette, a U.S. journalist who reached the summit four times.
Nepal official says: "There has been concern about the number of climbers on Mount Everest, but it is not because of the traffic jam that there were casualties. In the next season, we will work to have double rope in the area below the summit so there is better management of the flow of climbers." -- Mohan Krishna Sapkota, Ministry of Tourism
Writer says: "Crowds, while not the only reason people die on Everest, slow a climber's pace and thus increase their fatigue and use of oxygen." – Alan Arnette in Outside magazine
U.S. climber says: "When I went up, any time that line stopped moving, you started getting cold. When I see these things [photos] of people standing in line for one, two hours, not moving -- I couldn't have done it." -- Joe Pratt of Nottingham, N.H.
Front Page Talking Points Archive