Everest climbs smash records despite deadly bottlenecks

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
KATHMANDU
Published 19.06.2019 00:22

A record 885 people climbed Everest in May this year, figures showed yesterday, capping a deadly traffic-clogged season that also saw 11 climbers die on the world's highest mountain. The number smashed last year's record of 807 summits despite a short weather window that resulted in fatal bottlenecks on the peak.

Everest, which straddles the border between Nepal and China, saw 644 people summit from the south, authorities confirmed yesterday, 81 more than last year. Another 241 reached the top from the northern flank in Tibet, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported, three fewer than last year.

At least four of the deaths this season, the deadliest since 2015 when massive earthquakes triggered avalanches that swept away climbers' camps, have been blamed on overcrowding. A traffic jam forced teams to wait for hours in freezing temperatures to reach Everest's 8,848-meter summit and then descend, increasing the risk of frostbite, altitude sickness and exhaustion from depleted oxygen levels. Experts said too many of the new wave of mountaineer tourists were ill-prepared and inexperienced. Others have called for a cut in the number of climbing permits, or tougher standards for guides. Mountaineering in cash-strapped Nepal has become a lucrative business since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent of Everest in 1953. But under pressure, Nepal has formed a committee to recommend changes to its regulations and rules.

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