More than six decades ago, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
reached the summit of Mount Everest, the very first to summit the world’s
Since that incredible feat in May of 1953, the summit of
Everest has become increasingly congested and rubbish-strewn.
More and more climbers are now reaching the summit, thanks
to advances in mountaineering equipment. Indeed, scaling Everest is becoming a
lucrative business. Permits sell for anything from $10 000 to $100 000.
The increasing number of climbers tackling Everest has
resulted in immense gridlock and irritating waiting periods near the summit.
Most recently, a photo taken by mountaineer Nirmal Purja went viral, showing
just how congested it is at the top.
The ridge to the Everest summit was clogged by more than 200
climbers on 22 May when it reopened after bad weather.
The waiting periods are also fraught with danger, causing
exhaustion, dehydration and death in some cases. Just last week, at least ten
people were killed on the mountain including climbers from India, Ireland, the
UK and the United States.
Weather is a problem, too. But, in recent days the sheer
volume of climbers undoubtedly contributed to fatalities.. Attempts to reach a
solution and protect amateur mountaineers have divided the climbing community.
Proposals to install ladders on treacherous rock faces have angered
professionals who do not want to see the challenge of Everest undermined.
Until 1985, authorities in Nepal only permitted one
expedition on a route to the summit at any one time. Reviving this rule may
prove a realistic long-term solution to alleviate the Everest ‘traffic jam’.
Annual deaths on Everest
On average five climbers die each year on the icy, narrow,
oxygen-starved paths. This season, 11 people died on the treacherous slopes
where mountaineers queued sometimes for hours for their turn at the top.
Some veterans say too many of the new wave of mountaineer tourists are ill-prepared for what remains a major test of body and soul. Others have called for a cut in the number of climbing permits, or tougher standards for guides.
Permits issued to summit Everest
This infographic uses data to show how scaling the mountain has increased in popularity, using data from a range of sources, including the blog on alanarnette.com and historical data from 8000ers.com. The former estimates that 825 ascents have already been made this season which would make it the busiest year in history. The graphic was created by Statista.
Additional reporting by AFP and Statista.