Death Toll of Everest Climbers Reaches Double Digits

A+line+of+hikers+wait+to+summit+Mt+Everest%0AVia+Twitter
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Death Toll of Everest Climbers Reaches Double Digits

A line of hikers wait to summit Mt Everest
Via Twitter

A line of hikers wait to summit Mt Everest Via Twitter

A line of hikers wait to summit Mt Everest Via Twitter

A line of hikers wait to summit Mt Everest Via Twitter

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On average, 6 hikers climbing Mount Everest die each year. This year, however, 11 have already died, including one American, and more deaths are expected. The fatalities, which have included British, Indian, and Austrian hikers, are largely due to altitude sickness-related symptoms such as cardiac arrest.

In a picture that has since gone viral, Twitter user Nimsdai captured a photo of a line of hikers waiting to go onto the mountain’s summit, which has the area of about two ping pong tables. At least 5 deaths in the last week have been attributed to hikers having to wait hours in what is referred to as “The Death Zone,” the area of the mountain that is above 26,000 feet which requires humans to have oxygen tanks to survive for even a few minutes, and where heavy winds and low temperatures decrease chances of long term survival.

As the mountain lies on the border of Nepal and China, it can technically be scaled from either side, but most mountaineers prefer the Nepali side, and some have pointed fingers at the Nepali government for issuing too many climbing permits- a record breaking 381, at around $11,000 each. With most permits good for at least two people, this meant around 800 people would be climbing the mountain, and the small number of clear weather windows during which people could ascend lead to massive overcrowding, including as many as 250 people last Wednesday.

Many sources of blame have been identified- from inexperienced climbers and guides, to a lack of government liason officers organizing the whole affair, to competition between guide companies, to an overabundance of permits issued. It is unclear at the moment if anyone will face consequences for the deaths, but it remains likely that more will follow during an overcrowded climbing season.