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Gridlock on Everest

June 11, 2013


Six decades ago, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, becoming the very first climbers to conquer the world’s tallest mountain. Since that incredible feat in May of 1953, the summit of Everest has become increasingly congested. 

More and more climbers are now reaching the summit, thanks to advances in mountaineering equipment. Indeed, scaling Everest is becoming a lucrative business, with westerners forking over anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000 for permits to climb it.

The increasing number of climbers tackling Everest has resulted in immense gridlock and irritating waiting periods near the summit – 234 climbers reached the peak on one day in 2012. More than 500 people reached the top of Everest annually over the course of the last three years, using modern weather forecasts to time their attempts. Back in 1980, a mere ten climbers stood on top of the world.

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’. 


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