24 May 2012

An eye on Everest

Everest: Source -
I have never climbed Everest. I probably never will. It's an expensive climb -- the average cost of an Everest expedition is $65,000. I'm not that good of a mountaineer... yet -- you never know. But mostly because it's getting really crowded up there on top of the world.

A record 300 climbers headed up for a summit push on May 19, according to a report by Rock and Ice magazine. As of Tuesday, there were 11 confirmed dead climbers on Everest for the 2012 season. The deadliest Everest season was 1996 with 15 fatalities.

Many are predicting a similar bottleneck event that caused eight of the 1996 deaths. A crowd of 34 climbers converged on the Hilary Step at 28,750 feet.

"Between 80 and 150 climbers are currently (Thursday on the mountain; Wednesday in the U.S.) headed up into the night for the summit in windy, rocky and crowded conditions," reports Rock and Ice. In an update today, about half of the teams decided to postpone their summit attempts for one day.

Duane Raleigh of Rock and Ice wrote:

"While accurate weather forecasts are now available to Everest climbers, warning them of impending storms, climbers now all converge at once when the forecast is most favorable, exacerbating an already crowded situation, slowing everyone and making them more likely to get caught in bad weather or run out of oxygen.

According to a recent statistical study, climbers who summit between 9 and 10 a.m. are more likely to survive than those who summit four hours later. The death of Shan Klorfine over the weekend is just one example: she topped out at 2 p.m. and died on the descent, same as most of the dead on the 1996 climb. Her last words to her Sherpa guide were "save me.""

If you are interested in following the activity on Everest, you can follow National Geographic's team on Twitter, @NatGeo. They are tweeting and blogging their progress. 

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