44-year-old Briton Robin Fisher became the tenth mountaineer on Saturday who perished on Mount Everest during this climbing season. He fell ill while descending. It is the highest number of deaths on the mountain since 2015. Then an avalanche claimed nineteen lives.

This time the problem is not avalanches, snowstorms or strong winds, but too many climbers. Especially too many people with insufficient experience, according to experienced climbers. Some climbers don’t even know how to put on crampons, a kind of overshoe with pins, Sherpa guides say.

Nepal has no strict rules for who is allowed to climb Mount Everest and that creates problems. “You have to qualify to do the Iron Man. You have to qualify to run the New York Marathon,” says famous writer and mountain climber Alan Arnette in an interview with The New York Times. “But you don’t have to qualify to climb the highest mountain in the world?”

There are also no real limitations on how many people are allowed up the mountain. The Nepalese government has already issued 381 permits for this climbing season, while there are few days that the mountain can be safely climbed. “People go up the mountain en masse in good weather,” said Robin Baks, chairman of the Dutch Climbing Association (NKBV).

Last week there was even a traffic jam at the top of Mount Everest. A Dutch climber said last week that because of the crowds it was ‘really pushing and pulling’ on top of the mountain. Waiting is dangerous because it can run out of oxygen. Climbers can also suffer from altitude sickness or even freeze.

Just like many other experts, Baks is critical about the commercialization of Mount Everest.

“You pay 40,000 to 60,000 dollars and then everything is ready for you. The idioterie strikes. Even tent camps are equipped with heating. Then the Everest is not that interesting. It is increasingly becoming a bucket list mountain.”

The deceased Robin Fisher was very worried about the crowds. A few days before his death, he wrote on Instagram that he hoped to be able to avoid the crowds on the day of his ascent.

“With a single route to the top, delays caused by too many people could be fatal, so I am hopeful that my decision to go on the 25th means that there are fewer people. Unless everyone plays the same waiting game.”

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Climbed up to camp 3, 7500m but the jet stream had returned closing the summit after only 2 days so I descended to basecamp. Around 100 climbers did summit in those 2 days with sadly 2 deaths, an Indian man found dead in his tent at camp 4 and an Irish climber lost, assumed fallen, on his descent. A go fund me page has been set up for a rescue bid for the Irish climber but it is a well meaning but futile gesture. Condolences to both their friends and families. Both deaths happened above 8000m in the so called death zone where the majority of deaths of foreign climbers happen. Around 700 more people will be looking to summit from Tuesday the 21st onwards. My revised plan, subject to weather that at the moment looks promising, is to return up the mountain leaving basecamp Tuesday the 21st 0230 and, all being well and a lot of luck, arriving on the summit the morning of Saturday the 25th. I will be climbing with my Sherpa, Jangbu who is third on the all time list with an incredible 19 summits. The other 4 members of our team decided to remain on the mountain and are looking to summit on the 21st. My cough had started to return at altitude so I couldn’t wait with them at altitude for the window to open without the risk of physically deteriorating too much. Furthermore as I had missed due to sickness the earlier camp 3 rotation best practice was for me to descend to allow my body to recover from the new altitude high so I could come back stronger. This was not an easy decision as the 13 hours climbing from basecamp to camp 2 in a day was the hardest physical and mental challenge I had ever done, now I have it all to do again. Finally I am hopeful to avoid the crowds on summit day and it seems like a number of teams are pushing to summit on the 21st. With a single route to the summit delays caused by overcrowding could prove fatal so I am hopeful my decision to go for the 25th will mean fewer people. Unless of course everyone else plays the same waiting game. #everest #everest2019 #lhotseface

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