“It’s time to review all the old laws,” Yagya Raj Sunuwar, a member of Nepal’s Parliament said last week in response to the rising number of deaths on Everest and, no doubt, in reaction to the photos showing massive traffic jams of people clamoring to and from the peak. 11 climbers have died on the mountain this brief season, one of the deadliest in history.
Much of the danger this past week centered on the knife-edge path to the summit clogged with climbers and their Sherpa guides, keeping climbers standing around well above the 26,000-foot death zone while their bottled oxygen supplies ran low or expired.
Accounts from climbers last week paint a harrowing portrait of climbers stepping over the fallen, in frantic rushes to and from the summit.
“My carabiner’s attached to this rope, and I have to bend down and almost come face-to-face with a body in clothes just like me, with brands of companies like mine on their jackets, and unclip around them,” said Woody Hartman, a climber from California in a recent interview. “It really felt like a horror show of these frozen bodies.”
Permits from Nepal to climb Everest run $11,000, guides, equipment, food, etc, can easily top another $40,000. But guiding services are under no real mandate, as of yet, to ensure paying clients have the skill or experience to climb the highest mountain on earth.
“Certainly there will be some change in the expedition sector,” Mira Acharya, an official with Nepal’s tourism department told the New York Times. “We are discussing reforming some issues, including setting criteria for every Everest hopeful.”
Photo top: Kalle Kortelainen