Millennium Post

There's traffic up there!

Theres traffic up there!

Is Nepal's arbitrary issuance of permits to scale Mount Everest causing overcrowding and contributing to inexperienced climbers affecting professional mountaineers to face life threats? To many seasoned adventurers, this is one of the main reasons. Recently, the world's highest peak witnessed a traffic jam after more than 200 climbers, all clipped on to a single line of rope, attempted to reach Everest's Summit point in a single day, risking death each minute. Eleven people have died this season which is the highest since 2015 resulting mainly from overcrowding, coupled with difficult weather conditions, lack of experience, altitude sickness, shortness of breath, mental indecision and the growing commercialisation of expeditions. Veteran climbers feel "the major problem is inexperience, not only of the climbers that are on the mountain but also the operators supporting those climbers." They opine that "Everest is primarily a very complicated logistical puzzle" and when there are lots of "inexperienced operators and inexperienced climbers along with, particularly, the Nepal government not putting some limitations on the numbers of people," there is a high chance of deaths taking place. It has been observed increasingly that there are more people on Everest than there should be. Once only accessible to cash-rich elite expert mountaineers, Nepal's 'permit philanthropy' has led to a booming climbing market, bringing down the cost of expeditions for adventure-seekers massively. Though a doctor's certificate is required to establish their medical fitness, no document is required to prove their stamina at such dizzy heights. And it is mostly because of this, climbers have very little time to scale the mountain until they are hit by High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) which typically occurs in rapidly climbing unacclimatised lowlanders usually within 2–4 days of ascent above 2500–3000 metres. The final push — from Camp 4 at 8,000 metres to 8,850 metres — is known as the "death zone" and the conditions are so incredibly intense that when a person dies, the others cannot spare their energy to bring down the body. The situation gets more complicated when a set of inexperienced mountaineers try to make their way up as every second is very important.

Nepal does not have a rule book regarding the number of permits that can be issued, neither any strict law that keeps a check. This year, permits were issued to 381 people, the highest number ever, according to the government sources. They were accompanied by an equal number of Sherpas. The point is who doesn't want to stand on top of the world, everybody does. But unprepared tourists who have no knowledge about the extremes of Everest endanger the entire industry. It is understandable that when more people come, the number of permits increases which means more business. But, on the contrary, it can cost precious lives as well. And that is what needs to be addressed, and addressed fast.

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