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Over 10,000 Summits of Everest, 304 have Died

Around 900 climbers reached the summit of Everest in spring 2019

The Chinese and Nepal governments said that 885 to 900 people reached the top of Everest in spring 2019. The previous one-season record was 715 in 2018. This brings the total number of summits on Everest to over 10,000 by 5,800 climbers. The 11 deaths in 2018 bring the death toll to 304.

Everest was in the spotlight of international mainstream media this year because of the number of deaths, many of which were the result of traffic jams on the regular routes. American Adrian Ballinger who owns the Everest guiding company Alpenglow recently told CNN, “The realities of capitalism and commercialism [mean that] 80% of the market is this lower budget market, $25,000 to $35,000 trips.

“The only way to offer a $30,000 trip on Everest is to massively cut corners,” he says, pointing to the need for trained Sherpas and mountain guides. When you cut those things, I think you lose a lot of the decision-making ability that’s necessary when you have a holiday season like this one when conditions are really difficult.”

Another reason that Everest is in the news so much this year is because of the massive amounts of human waste that are being cleared off the mountain. “When the snow melts the garbage surfaces. And when there is high wind, tents are blown and torn and the contents are scattered all over the mountain, which makes it even more dangerous for climbers already navigating a slippery, steep slope in snow and high winds,” said Ang Tshering, former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association.

Ang Dorjee, who heads the independent Everest Pollution Control Committee, said, “The problem is there are no regulations on how to dispose of the human waste. Some climbers use biodegradable bags that have enzymes which decompose human waste but most of them don’t.”

Even Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver recently discussed Everest here and said, “Climbing Mount Everest has somehow gone from being a rare feat of extraordinary skill to something that looks like the line at Trader Joe’s.”

Experienced mountaineer Mark Jenkins reached the summit in 2012 and outlined steps that could be taken that could fix some of the problems on Everest on outsideonline.com. Some of his ideas include: limit the number of permits, a concessions system for guiding, have a leave no trace policy and to fix lines earlier in the season. Read more here.

Top Nepali climber Dawa Yangzum Sherpa was one of the climbers in the traffic jam this season and talked about how she would improve things with nationalgeographic.com here. She said that climbers should be required to climb at least one or two other 7,000- to 8,000-metre peaks in Nepal, that ropes should be fixed much earlier and that guides have a minimum skill set.

The 2019 Everest season isn’t over, as many climbers will be heading to the slopes of the highest peak in the fall. For now, climbers are facing bad weather on K2, the second highest peak in the world.

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