John Oliver Examines the ‘Mt Everest of Irresponsible Decisions’

The number of deaths at Mt Everest was put at 11 by international media, making it the deadliest season since 2015.

2 min read
John Oliver on ‘Last Week Tonight’.

In the latest episode of ‘Last Week Tonight’, John Oliver says, “Mount Everest, it’s no longer just a mountain. It has become everyone’s go-to metaphor for a significant challenge,” taking a dig at the unprecedented number of climbers’ deaths at the mountain this year.

The number of deaths at Mt Everest was put at 11 by international media, making it the deadliest season since 2015.

According to tourism officials, a total of six climbers died and one went missing in the Himalayas this season.

About climbing the Everest, Oliver says the rare feat has turned into something preposterous.

“The mountain now gets littered with trash. A clean-up expedition just brought down this year, 24,000 pounds of garbage and that’s not all. There’s also a lot of human shit up the mountain, which, thanks in part to climate change is now sliding downhill in what’s being called a fecal time bomb.”
John Oliver on Last Week Tonight

The episode explores the causes behind these issues, examines the Everest-climbing industry and how things can be made safer.

According to Oliver, an overwhelming majority of expeditions rely on Sherpas to do everything, from carrying supplies to putting up tents. “There is someone along for the ride to the top and there's someone pulling all the weight,” Olive quips, praising the Sherpas who also take huge risks to give their clients the “bragging rights of conquering the ultimate mountain.”

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


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.

Oliver further breaks down how permits are issued by the government and the loopholes the process is riddled with. “Only half are qualified to be climbing. Then why on earth are you letting the other half climb? If Cirque de Soleil had half its trapeze artists, trained acrobats and the other half with 11,000 dollars and their own tiger bodysuit, you would shut that shit down before someone got badly hurt,” Oliver remarks, adding that agreeing to send an unqualified climber could very well be the “Mount Everest of shitty irresponsible decisions.”

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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