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Mt. Everest: 10 dead amid overcrowding at peak

May 25, 2019

A narrow window of good weather has led to deadly overcrowding on Mount Everest. Most of the 10 deaths this month occurred after climbers spent too much time in the "death zone."

Traffic jam of climbers on Mount Everest
Image: AFP/Project Possible

At least 10 people this climbing season have died attempting to summit and descend Mount Everest, putting it on track to be one of the deadliest years. Climbers have expressed concerns of overcrowding on the world's highest mountain (above photo) after a long queue to reach the summit.

A small window of good weather before the end of the short April and May climbing season has created a traffic jam of climbers in the Everest "death zone," leading to exhaustion, dehydration and death.

Expedition organizers on Saturday said an Irish climber and a British climber died, bringing the death toll to 10. British national Robin Fisher had reached the summit but collapsed 150 meters into his descent. The Irish climber died Friday morning on the Tibetan side of the mountain.

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Nepali officials said on Friday that three Indian climbers and one Sherpa guide had died. The three Indians, named as Anjali Sharad Kulkarni, 54, Kalpana Das, 49, and Nihal Ashpak Bagwan, 27, reportedly died from exhaustion while descending after reaching the peak.

"Bagwan died of dehydration, exhaustion and tiredness after being caught in the jam of climbers," said Keshab Paudel of the Peak Promotion hiking agency. "We don't know for how long the jam lasted nor how many climbers were clogged by a single line near the summit," Paudel said.

'Death zone' risk

Ang Tsering Sherpa, former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said many climbers have had to wait below the summit during a narrow time of suitable weather.

"Spending a long time above the death zone increases the risk of frostbite, altitude sickness and even death," he said.

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Ten people who have died this climbing season, including an American and an Indian who fell ill and passed away on Wednesday after being stuck in a bottleneck of climbers. An Irish climber also went missing this month and is presumed dead.

On the Tibetan side, a Swiss man and an Austrian man have also died. Nepal has issued a record 381 permits to climb to the top of Everest this year.

Officials say between five and 10 climbers die on Mount Everest in an average climbing year.

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cw/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)