Indian climber's clip of human 'traffic' on Everest reignites overcrowding concerns

Climbing the world's highest peak is not only dangerous but also triggers ecological concerns

Dozens of people attempt to make the summit of Mount Everest. Photo: @everester.raj / Instagram
Powered by automated translation

A video posted by an Indian mountaineer showing a long queue of thousands of climbers waiting for the narrow window of suitable weather to summit Mount Everest has raised concerns over safety and overcrowding.

Mountaineers from around the world arrive at the tiny Himalayan nation of Nepal during the annual brief climbing season from March to May to summit the 8,849-metre mountain between Nepal and Tibet.

Long lines typically form as climbers wait for the right moment without dangerous winds and weather to move up and down the world's highest peak.

The video, which social media users described as showing a human “traffic jam”, was taken before two mountaineers, British climber Daniel Paterson, 39, and his Nepali guide Pas Tenji, 23, went missing.

Rajan Dwivedi, an Indian mountaineer, posted a video on Instagram showing climbers waiting in a single line. The descent was a “nightmare and exhausting” experience, Mr Dwivedi said in the caption of the footage he posted last week.

“Mount Everest is not a joke,” he added.

The video showed dozens of climbers waiting to move up, while Mr Dwivedi and others behind him were attempting to go back down.

In recent years, the overcrowding at the mountain due to the large number of climbers and hikers has sparked criticism and concerns over littering.

In 2019, 380 permits were issued but the overcrowding caused “traffic jams” on Everest, forcing climbers to wait for hours in freezing temperatures to reach the summit. The delay caused their oxygen levels to drop, leading to sickness and exhaustion.

Nepal issued 463 permits for Mount Everest for last year’s summit season – the highest amount recorded. This year, it has issued 403 permits.

Summitting the world's highest peak comes with grave dangers.

Mr Paterson and his guide are feared dead after they fell from a high altitude. Nepali officials said it was too difficult to search for the pair because they fell on the Chinese side of the mountain.

The climbers fell from the Hillary Step, situated at about 8,800 metres and considered to be Everest's “death zone” because of low oxygen levels and air pressure which can be fatal over extended periods.

An adventure company, 8K Expeditions, which organised the exploration, said the duo was “caught in a sudden cornice fall which impacted the group of climbers”.

Hundreds of mountaineers travel from across the world in May when the temperatures are warmer on the highest section of the mountain and offer a window of good weather for climbers to reach the summit.

This climbing season, set to end this week, saw four climbers go missing since May 22, according to AP.

The climbers, along with Nepalese guides spend about two weeks hiking to the Everest base camp, which sits at an altitude of almost 5,200 metres while waiting for the good weather before ascending to the summit.

Updated: May 27, 2024, 10:12 PM