VIDEO: Deaths rise as Nepal issues more permits for Mount Everest

After 11 deaths, the country said it would still not restrict permits

Eric Murphy, a mountain guide from Bellingham, Washington poses for a photograph in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Scaling Mount Everest was a dream few realized before Nepal opened its side of the mountain to commercial climbing a half-century ago.

This year, the government issued a record number of permits, leading to traffic jams on the world’s highest peak that likely contributed to the greatest death toll in four years.

READ MORE: B.C. man who ascended Everest recounts injuries, frostbite and death

As the allure of Everest grows, so have the crowds, with inexperienced climbers faltering on the narrow passageway to the peak and causing deadly delays, veteran climbers said.

After 11 people died this year, Nepal tourism officials have no intention of restricting the number of permits issued, instead encouraging even more tourists and climbers to come “for both pleasure and fame,” said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries, relies on the climbing industry to bring in $300 million each year. It doesn’t cap the number of permits it issues or control the pace or timing of the expeditions, leaving that to tour operators and guides who take advantage of brief clear weather conditions whenever they come, leading to pileups near the peak.

On May 22, a climber snapped a photo from a line with dozens of hikers in colorful winter gear that snaked into the sky.

Climbers were crammed crampon-to-crampon along a sharp-edged ridge above South Col, with a 7,000-foot (2,000-meter) drop on either side, all clipped onto a single line of rope, trudging toward the top of the world and risking death as each minute ticked by.

“There were more people on Everest than there should be,” said Kul Bahadur Gurung, general secretary of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, an umbrella group of all expedition operators in Nepal. “We lack the rules and regulations that say how many people can actually go up and when.”

The death toll this season is the highest since 2015. Most of those who died are believed to have suffered from altitude sickness, which is caused by low amounts of oxygen at high elevation and can cause headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion.

Once only accessible to well-heeled elite mountaineers, Nepal’s booming climbing market has driven down the cost of an expedition, opening Everest up to hobbyists and adventure-seekers. Nepal requires climbers to have a doctors’ note deeming them physically fit, but not to prove their stamina at such extreme heights.

Because of the altitude, climbers have just hours to reach the top before they are at risk of a pulmonary edema, when the lungs fill with liquid. From Camp Four at 8,000 metres (26,240 feet) to the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak, the final push on Everest is known as the “death zone.”

The conditions are so intense at such times that when a person dies, no one can afford to expend energy on carrying the body down from the mountain.

“Every minute counts there,” said Eric Murphy, a mountain guide from Bellingham, Washington, who climbed Everest for a third time on May 23. He said what should have taken 12 hours took 17 hours because of struggling climbers who were clearly exhausted but had no one to guide or help them.

Just a handful of inexperienced climbers, he said, is “enough to have a profound effect.”

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Indian climber Ameesha Chauhan who survived dangerous overcrowding on Mount Everest gets treatment at a hospital after she was rescued in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Just Posted

Lost labradoodle found and reunited with family in Abbotsford

Four-year-old Mordy went missing on Aug. 26 in Princeton

Multiple accidents on Highway 1 slowing morning commutes

One accident just past 232 Street in Langley, second is just East of Bradner Street in Abbotsford

Abbotsford buses more reliable after summer service upgrades, BC Transit says

More buses are on time, but some are still forced to bypass riders to keep to schedule

Man charged with stealing Chief Dan George sculpture from Abbotsford school

Piece turned up in Mission pawn shop after Chilliwack artist noticed it missing this summer

New real-time location technology coming soon to Fraser Valley buses

Waiting riders will be able to see location of their bus using their phones

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Largest driving factor is the province’s complex stumpage system that results in high fees, expert says

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Guilty plea in Lower Mainland break-and-enter spree

Gordon Vincent Gladstone, 42, was charged with 12 counts relating to a dozen incidents in late 2018

Vancouver police officer hit with bear spray mid-arrest

Officer had been trying to arrest a woman wanted province-wide

Most Read