Climbers’ Greed, Excess Permits: Summiteers on Everest Traffic Jam

Mountaineers explain why human traffic jam is caused on Mt Everest.  

3 min read

A photo posted on 22 May, showing a long queue of mountaineers waiting to climb Mt Everest, has been doing rounds on the internet with many referring to it as “traffic jam” on the highest mountain of the world.

While reports suggest that the crowding on Everest was mainly caused due to harsh weather conditions that cut the climbing window, mountaineers told The Quint the unscrupulous distribution of climbing permits by Nepalese government and the greed of climbers to summit the mountain has also played a huge role.

"People will always be attracted to Everest, it’s the top of the world. And the government will keep on issuing permits, it’s their revenue," said a summiteer who was present during this year’s traffic jam.


Everest summiteer, Rommel, who began his summit on 22 May told The Quint that earlier in 2018 a lot of permits were issued, but this year, due more distributions of permits and shorter duration of climbing window, “it was a bad time to climb Everest.”

“If the Nepal government restricts the number of issued licences the way it is done in ChinaI, I think it will be better and we will have less number of deaths, unlike the unfortunate incidents that took place this year.”
Rommel, Everest summiter

According to officials, there was a record-breaking summit on 22 May with at least 220 climbers reaching the peak. Overall, permits were issued to 381 people, the highest number ever, as per PTI.

Mountaineers explain why human traffic jam is caused on Mt Everest.  

What Happens in Everest Traffic Jam & Why Is It Dangerous?

But the pertinent question remains – why is a traffic jam situation considered dangerous?

Rommel says, with more number of inexperienced climbers causing a traffic jam on Everest, the dependency on Sherpas (Himalayan origin people) increased, and therefore, people in difficult positions could not find their way out.

A climber, Kuntal Joisher, who finished his second summit on 23 May also told The Quint that in a traffic jam people run out on the “limited oxygen supply” they have. Due to low oxygen, climbers get tired faster which could prove to be fatal.

“The biggest problem in waiting in this long line is that the oxygen is getting over. The oxygen has been rationed for a certain number of hours for climbers to go up and come down. And if that takes more time, you will run out of oxygen and you will feel cold, you will feel dizzy, you will run out of breath.”
Kuntal Joisher, Everest summiter 
Mountaineers explain why human traffic jam is caused on Mt Everest.  
Kuntal Joisher during the climb to Everest.
(Photo: The Quint)

Joisher added that due to lack of oxygen, many climbers this year suffered from frostbites, as they were unable to keep moving.


What Has Happened So Far

With the death of Christopher Kulish – a US climber – at Everest on Tuesday, 28 May, the toll at the world's highest mountain has touched its peak at 11 which includes four Indians. The Indians have been identified as Nihal Bagwan, Kalpana Dash, army soldier Ravi Thakar and Narayan Singh.

Earlier on 25 May, a British climber collapsed shortly after reaching the summit.

The climbing season, which began on 14 May, will come to an end on 31 May.

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Topics:  Himalayas   Mount Everest   Everest 

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