Deadly congestion on Everest
Four mountaineers perished on Everest, expedition organizers said Friday, bringing to eight the number of deaths this season on the roof of the world whose increasing attendance creates dangerous traffic jams in “zone of death”.
The high season is in full swing on the 8848-meter mountain, to the point where queues of mountaineers are forming near the summit. As of Thursday, about 550 climbers had reached the top of Everest this year, according to data collected by the Nepalese authorities.
Two Indians, an Austrian and a Nepalese have succumbed in the past 48 hours.
India’s Kalpana Das, 52, reached the summit on Thursday afternoon but died as she was coming down. His compatriot Nihal Bagwan, 27, also died on his way home.
“He was stuck in the traffic jam for over 12 hours and was exhausted. Sherpas guides brought him back to camp 4 but he made his last breath there, “said Keshav Paudel of Peak Promotion.
On the other side of the mountain, an Austrian mountaineer of 65 died Thursday on the Tibetan route, less traveled than Nepalese, announced its organizer of expedition. A 33-year-old Nepalese guide succumbed to the base camp after falling ill at Camp 3 at 7158 meters above sea level.
Impressive photos showed a long line of clad climbers stomping on the ridge between the summit and the South Pass, where the ultimate Nepali side encampment is located.
Rescued from a tragic expedition to the Pakistani Nanga Parbat last year, which killed her fellow Polish rider, French climber Elisabeth Revol returned to the “8000” by climbing Everest and Lhotse consecutively. neighbor, announced Friday to AFP his expedition.
“She reached the summit of Everest yesterday and reached the top of Lhotse this morning,” said Rishi Ram Bhandari of Satori Adventures. Because of the slowdowns on the way, he was not able to confirm if the Frenchwoman had been able to carry out these ascents entirely without recourse to a respiratory assistance, as she planned.
The high season of Everest lasts from the end of April to the end of May. At this time, the weather offers a short window of less extreme conditions in these icy and unfit heights.
According to experts, the congestion of mountaineers is due to both the multiplication of permits and the reduced number of favorable weather windows to climb to the top this year. All expeditions therefore launch the final assault on the same days.
“With so few opportunities [weather] and so many licenses […] it’s impossible to get so many people through the notorious bottlenecks on both sides,” said Alan Arnette, a specialist blogger.
At this extreme altitude, oxygen is scarcer and athletes usually have to use oxygen bottles to reach the end of their ascent. An altitude above 8000 meters above sea level is considered the “zone of death”.
“Staying in the death zone for a long time increases the risk of frostbite, altitude sickness and even death,” Ang Tsering Sherpa, former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told AFP.
Furdiki Sherpa and Nima Doma Sherpa, two widows of Sherpas guides killed on Everest, reached the summit of the mountain on Thursday, killing their husbands, according to their team coordinator. The two Nepalese wanted to challenge the patriarchal traditions and the male domination of mountaineering.
“We want to ride Everest with a message for widows and single women. We are not worth less than the others, we are able to accomplish anything, “they told AFP before they left.
Five people lost their lives last year on Everest. In 2015, 18 mountaineers perished at the base camp in an avalanche triggered by an earthquake.
The liberalization of the ascension by the Nepalese authorities in the 1990s encouraged the development of commercial expeditions and increased the number of mountaineers on the walls. Everest was conquered for the first time in 1953 by Nepalese Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Edmund Hillary.