This past weekend was a deadly weekend on the world’s tallest mountain. 3 climbers are confirmed dead on Everest and two are missing. Missing on Everest means dead. Nine climbers have now perished on Everest this season.
This Everest climbing season has been especially dangerous due to low snowfall in the Himalaya causing icier than normal conditions, weakened icefalls, more rockfall, and more open crevasses.
“Because there is little fresh snow, icy surfaces on the slopes make climbing more difficult and dangerous. The snow acts as glue, stopping rocks from falling on the climbers.” – Conrad Anker, badass USA mountaineer
“Well-known expedition organizer Russell Brice cited the mountain’s precarious condition in his decision in early May to cancel this year’s climb for more than 60 clients.” – BINAJ GURUBACHARYA, Associated Press
150 people attempted to summit Everest during a weather window on this past Friday and Saturday (May 18 & 19). Large numbers of climbers attempting to summit at the same time creates dangerous traffic jams at the Hillary Step and the Balcony on summit day.
“There was a traffic jam on the mountain on Saturday. Climbers were still heading to the summit as late as 2:30 p.m., which is quite dangerous.”- Nepali mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha
Common turnaround times on summit day are 11am-12pm. Later than that, you’re gambling with your life.
“With the traffic jam, climbers had a longer wait for their chance to go up the trail and spent too much time at higher altitude. Many of them are believed to be carrying a limited amount of oxygen, not anticipating the extra time spent.” - Nepali mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha
The May 18-19 weather window was not an ideal one as high winds and very low temperatures battered the traffic jammed climbers.
“Last night [May 19th], the weather was very difficult with high winds and low temperatures. There were many summits but also many teams turned backed.” - Alan Arnette, Everest summiteer & climbing journalist
“I estimate there have been over 300 summits this week alone.” - Alan Arnette
It was a very busy week on Everest with many climbers and teams on the mountain. That resulting traffic jams were unwanted.
Video displaying South Col route where deaths occured
CONFIRMED DEAD ON EVEREST:
- Shriya Shah, Canadian Non-Resident Nepali (died during descent from summit)
- Dr Ebehard Schaaf h, a climber from Germany (died during descent from summit at South Summit)
- Song Won-bin, South Korean mountaineer (died at the Balcony from AMS and fall)
CURRENTLY MISSING ON EVEREST:
- Ha Wenyi, a Chinese climber & his Nepali Sherpa
2012 DEATH TOLL ON EVEREST:
- 7 deaths have been confirmed this climbing season and two are still missing:
“40 year-old Karsang Namgyal Sherpa climbing with Prestige Adventures related to alcohol at base camp; Peak Freaks’ Namgyal Tshering Sherpa fell from a ladder into a crevasse near C1; Dawa Tenzing with Himex from stroke and died in Kathmandu; 33 year-old Indian, Ramesh Gulve, climbing with the Pune team suffered a stroke around Camp2 and died back in India. Dr Ebehard Schaaf with Asian Trekking of HACE near South Summit, Shriya Shah, a Canadian Non-Resident Nepali, Song Won Bin from South Korea died at the Balcony from AMS and then a fall. Chinese climber, Ha Wenyi. A Nepali Sherpa guide has been missing since May 19.” - Alan Arnette, Everest summiteer & climbing journalist
ALL-TIME DEATH TOLL ON EVEREST:
- 234 people have died on Mt Everest between 1922 and today
- An estimated 200 bodies are currently on Mt. Everest
DEADLIEST YEARS ON MT EVEREST:
- 1996 = 15 deaths
- 2006 = 11 deaths
- 1982 = 11 deaths
- 1988 = 10 deaths
- 1997 = 9 deaths
- 1922 = 7 deaths (there are many years with 8 deaths but 1922 was the 1st climbing season ever on Everest)
MORE EVEREST FACTS:
- 1 out of every 10 successful summits ends in death on Everest
- Most deaths occur on descent not ascent
- Deadliest day on Mt Everest = May 10th 1996 when 8 people died
- There is currently no limit on how many climbers can attempt Everest in one season
The message conveyed in this post is that climbing above 8,000 meters is extremely serious. So many factors encountered are out of your control. Add to that a bulk of climbers on summit day at the same time, and the risk factors multiply. Climbing Mt Everest is both a crowning achievement and a profound risk for anyone daring enough to attempt to reach its summit.