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.”