Everest has always been a perilous peak, but this climbing season has proven particularly fatal. While descending the mountain on Thursday, three climbers died of exhaustion, making a total of seven who have died on Everest just this week — more than the total number of deaths on the mountain all last year. The three most recent deaths were Kalpana Das and Nihal Bagwan of India and an unnamed Austrian climber. Many are blaming high traffic near Everest’s summit, causing delays in descent and dangerous conditions for climbers.
Nepal has issued 381 permits for the spring climbing season, which may not sound like a lot, but when time is of the essence at high altitude, any delay can prove deadly. According to local tour organizer Keshav Paudel, Bagwan had been “stuck in traffic for more than 12 hours and was exhausted.” Many have called for limiting the number of permits issued each year to reduce congestion at the summit. Ben Fogle, adventure and television presenter, suggested a “London Marathon-style lottery” for climbing permits.
Conditions on the mountain have also been worse than usual this year, with high winds leaving climbers with little time to reach the summit safely.
Just yesterday, an American perished on Everest due to similar reasons. He was caught in the bottleneck of Hillary Step, passed out, and couldn’t be revived. Right now, the death toll this climbing season stands at an alarming 16.