A Traffic Jam On Mt. Everest
It is every climber’s dream to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. At 29,029 ft, the peak is undisputedly the highest spot on earth. But the trek to the summit is anything but a walk in the park.
Ever since the summit was climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953, eager climbers try to make the pilgrimage to the top of the mountain every year. The last few weeks of May is the ideal time when the severe weather conditions usually open up for a brief period of time. An opportunity for the brave and the spirited to attempt a trip to the summit.
Recently the tourism and commercialization of this exalted mountain has become a threat. This year on one such May day, over 200 climbers waited in line held up by a bizarre traffic jam of pedestrians as they navigated the "death zone" on the trail to the summit. The severe overcrowding resulted in mishaps and loss of lives. We take a look at the changing face of nature and this extreme sport.
Mt Everest: a conquest no more?
Mountain climbing evokes a vision of spirituality and solitude. Now that appears to have been crowded out by a wave of adventure tourism. This once exalted and arduous achievement now seems common place as numerous climbers make a beeline for the top, led by commercial companies. Better equipment and clothing has made it appear all very easy.
However, Everest is a grueling mountain. With just a single icy path to the summit and only a few days of clear weather to climb, the dangers of not moving quickly can be fatal. Today, many buy a spot to the top if they have the means to pay for it, but they are ill-prepared or unfit. These tourists push themselves beyond their capacity in the thrill of achievement, risking not just their own lives but others following behind. More than 200 lives have been taken by the treacherous slopes to this day. The death of four climbers just this year due to hyperthermia and extreme weather is testament to this fact.
Clean up Mt Everest!
Humans leave their trash traces wherever they go, and Everest is no exception. Lovers of the mountain have been calling attention to the high traffic, abandonment of equipment and improper garbage disposal that is defacing its pristine slopes. Watch the video in the notes to understand the extent of the problem.
Despite these excesses, the peak still holds a charm to the true mountaineer. Each year some sort of history is made on its summit. This year Tamae Watanabe of Japan became the oldest woman to reach the peak at the age of 73.
Critical Thinking: What is the future for Mt Everest you wish to see? Would you like to see it emerge as a tourist destination or rather leave the mountain alone? We would like to hear your thoughts.