Stories tagged mountain deaths


Mount Everest at Sunset: With ten confirmed deaths already this year, it's the second-deadliest climbing season on record for Mount Everest. What can be done to make climbers safer?
In the world of back-country hiking, the motto always is “Leave the area cleaner than you found it.” But that doesn’t seem to be the case with trekkers up Mount Everest these days.

And what they’re leaving behind is other frozen hikers.

This year’s climbing season on the world’s largest mountain is shaping up to be one of the deadliest. And the situation has people getting up in arms over the ethics involved with high-altitude, high-risk mountain climbing.

So far this year, there have been 10 confirmed fatalities on Everest, making it the second-deadliest climbing season on record. In 1996, 19 climbers died. All totaled, about 200 climbers have succumbed to Everest’s low oxygen and frigid temperatures in the 50 years climbers have bee summiting it.

But what really has people talking about the situation this year is that in the case of one of the fatalities, about 40 other climbers passed by the nearly frozen hiker, leaving him to die. Some ask, “How could they do that?”

First off, the elevation at the top of Everest is so high, it’s very risky if not impossible for helicopters to get there. Also, communication by phone or radio is extremely limited at those heights.

Due to the unforgiving nature of the top of the mountain, some climbers say it’s too risky to spend time and energy on a rescue mission that may very likely result in a death anyway. Time, oxygen and food are so limited at that altitude, losing them through the efforts of a rescue mission might lead others to die.

Some climbers have the attitude that they all assume huge risks to venture out on such a climb. If someone’s luck turns bad, they knew what they were getting into and shouldn’t expect extraordinary help.

Critics of those trains of thought point out that many climbers spent lots of money, $10,000 to $40,000, to pursue their dream. At that cost, they’re not willing to let their personal ambitions fade away to try to help someone else. They claim that many of these climbers don’t have the mountaineering skills necessary for success.

Also, they’re very concerned that Everest is becoming littered with corpses, used oxygen tanks and other climbing gear.

Do you think this is a crisis in need of some kind of fix? What alternatives might there be to help ease this situation? Share your ideas here by posting your comments.