Traffic jam on Mt. Everest raises safety concerns for climbers

Posted at 4:29 PM, May 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 18:29:06-04
A line of climbers waits to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. (NBC News)

MT EVEREST – At least five people have died on Mt. Everest this week, as peak climbing season continues. Bad weather on Wednesday, however, caused a huge jam of climbers waiting their turn to get to the summit.

Climbers were forced to wait for short periods of good weather to try to make the summit of the world’s tallest mountain.

Earlier Friday two climbers from India and one from Australia died descending from the summit. American climber Don Cash died from probable altitude sickness on the way down from the summit Wednesday according to mountaineering officials. The same day Anjali Kulkarni, a marathoner from India who trained for six years to summit Everest, also died while making her descent.

Altitude sickness is caused by low amounts of oxygen at high elevation and can cause headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath, and mental confusion.

A picture of the Everest traffic jam has raised concerns about the possible dangers of congestion on Everest among mountaineers.

“You’d have to be foolish not to say that queuing or that waiting at such high altitude isn’t having an impact on the numbers of deaths that we’ve seen this year,” said veteran Everest climber Kenton Cool.

Nepal’s Tourism Board says more than 200 ascended Everest on May 22 after bad weather cleared. The board also says claims that congestion contributed to deaths are baseless.

This year at least six people are presumed dead after trying to scale Everest from the Nepal side. There were five deaths on the mountain last year, six in 2017, and one in 2016.

Most of those who died trying to scale Everest remain at the site of their death.