Mount Everest braces for ‘traffic jam’The world’s tallest peak is bracing for a “traffic jam” this season with a surge in number of climbers.
The world’s tallest peak is bracing for a “traffic jam” this season with a surge in number of climbers.
Come mid-May, climbers will embark on the journey to 8,848-metre-high Mt Everest. Expedition teams, however, start arriving at the base camp a month before to acclimatise.
According to the Department of Tourism, there will be more climbers this season—around 400. Add high altitude workers, whose number is usually more than the climbers, to that, and there could be around 1,000 individuals on their way to the summit, creating a queue whose snail-paced movement will be punctuated by frequent halts.
“Everyone will be in a hurry to reach the peak when the weather clears; there is no management up there to fix turns for the climbers,” said Sonam Sherpa of Forche, who has scaled Mt Everest five times working as an aide to climbers. “So there is a possibility of a traffic jam this year. Returning climbers in general have depleted stock of oxygen with them and they are exhausted, which means life hangs in the balance.”
A good weather means expedition teams will start climbing up from camps 2, 3 and 4, resulting in “traffic jam”. According to Kapindra Rai, programme officer of the Everest Pollution Control Committee, this year 267 climbers have already started trekking from Namche to the Everest base camp.
Around 290 climbers had arrived at the base camp after acquiring permission to climb Mt Everest last year when hundreds were able to reach the summit following two years of disasters on the mountain.
The 2015 season was called off after 19 climbers were killed and 61 injured by an avalanche at the base camp triggered by a massive earthquake. The previous year, 16 Sherpa guides perished in an avalanche at the Khumbu Icefall.
More than 3,000 people have scaled Mt Everest since 1953 when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the top of the world. Over 280 climbers have died attempting the feat. But despite disasters and deaths, Mt Everest never fails to lure the climbers with its majesty.
Those who had acquired permission in 2014 to climb Mt Everest are likely to have returned to scale the mountain this year. In 2015, the government introduced a new law allowing climbers a three years’ window to scale Mt Everest with a single permit and fare. “This is the final year of the three-year period and the climbers who had taken permission earlier have also arrived to ensure that they don’t miss the chance,” said Durgadatta Dhakal, information officer at the Department of Tourism. “That’s why the number of climbers this season is high.”