Traffic congestion on the world’s highest peak is creating a ‘death zone’

Traffic congestion on the world’s highest peak is creating a ‘death zone’
Guinness record holder for speed climbing, Nirmal Puje, captures the extent of overcrowding on Mount Everest Nirmal Puje/Project Possible

  • Seven people have died over the past week, while climbing down the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest.
  • Climbers are blaming the congestion on the mountain — the ‘death zone’ — where people run out of oxygen because they had to wait in line for too long.
  • There is only one rope on Nepal side of the summit to guide climbers up and down the summit of Mount Everest.
Traffic congestion isn’t just a burgeoning problem in India’s urban sprawl. It extends to the far reaches of Mount Everest where it’s fatal.

The world’s highest peak is racking up casualties at a rate that people are now calling it a ‘death zone.’

The most recent casualty of congestion on the world’s highest peak was Anjali Kulkarni. She had trained for six years for her trek, made it to the top but died on the way down because there was a build up of traffic, according to her son who spoke to CNN.

Overall, seven people have died on Mount Everest last week — not due to the dangers of climbing, but while coming back after conquering the peak.

What’s the hold up?


Traffic congestion on the world’s highest peak is creating a ‘death zone’
The 'congo line' at Mount Everest in 2012Ralf Dujmovits official blog

This isn’t the first time that authorities have been called to address congestion issues on the Everest. In 2012, an image by Ralf Dujmovits of the ‘conga line’ at Mount Everest went viral highlighting the extent of overcrowding on the peak.

Images of the peak show that there is only a single rope to guide climbers up and down Mount Everest’s summit.

It gets all the more difficult as the peak is 8,848 meters above the sea level. Up there, the oxygen is 30% of what is available normally. In most cases, climbers carry oxygen masks and cylinders adding to the load that they have to carry.

The longer a climber has to wait in line, higher is the probability of them running out of oxygen.

The lure of conquering the world’s highest peak is only growing. And more unprepared adventurers are joining in the fray.

The southern side of the summit from Nepal is interesting but more crowded. The situation is considerably easier from Tibet, but that’s only because the Chinese government gives out fewer permits.

Nepal asserts that overcrowding isn’t the only reason for the rise in casualties; and is also attributing blame to adverse weather conditions.

See also:
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This Indian cop has been on a record 211 mountaineering expeditions globally — and she is now setting off for the North Pole