Stuck in a queue to the summit

Eleven people have died on Everest so far this year.

Mountaineers have suggested difficult weather conditions, a lack of experience and the growing commercialization of expeditions as contributing factors to the backlog.

British climber Robin Haynes Fisher was one of those who had warned of the dangers of overcrowding.

“With a single route to the summit, delays caused by overcrowding could prove fatal so I am hopeful my decision to go for the 25th will mean fewer people. Unless of course everyone else plays the same waiting game,” he wrote in a captioned Instagram post on May 19.

He’s one of the eleven; he died on the way down.

During the week beginning May 20, crowds of climbers became stuck in a queue to the summit, above the mountain’s highest camp at 8,000 meters (26,247 feet). The summit of Mount Everest is 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) high.

If there’s any place on the entire planet you don’t want to get stuck in a queue it’s the last few meters of Everest.

Veteran climber David Morton spoke to CNN from base camp on the Tibetan side of Mt. Everest. He had just descended after getting around 100 meters from the summit for a research project.

“The major problem is inexperience, not only of the climbers that are on the mountain but also the operators supporting those climbers,” he explained. “Everest is primarily a very complicated logistical puzzle and I think when you have a lot of inexperienced operators as well inexperienced climbers along with, particularly, the Nepal government not putting some limitations on the numbers of people, you have a prime recipe for these sorts of situations happening.”

I don’t understand why people keep doing this, apart from the narcissistic desire to say you’ve done it. The reason it’s so difficult, the reason so few people have done it, is not because the climbing is ultra-skilled, it’s because it’s too high. It’s about the oxygen, not the climbing. That’s why it’s possible for rich people to climb it with minimal experience, and it’s why so many people die in the attempt. That’s not a test of skill, it’s just a test of how long you can survive at high altitude. Who cares how long anyone can survive at high altitude? It’s like a stunt, but an especially destructive, expensive, wasteful stunt. Everybody just cut it out.

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