This year has brought to light the large number of deaths on Mount Everest and the massive overcrowding taking place there. One would think that the danger involved in this climb would result in people who find themselves together on the peak being solicitous of one another and helping those in distress. Instead it seems to have bred a kind of callousness as people become so determined to get to the top that nothing, even the sight of others in obvious distress, will deter them. This article describes what the crowding has done to people.
Chatur Tamang was on his way to the roof of the world when he hit a traffic jam.
Ahead of him, on the final ascent to Mount Everest, he saw more than 100 people bunched together on the narrow ridge that leads to the summit — a place so high that it is known as the “death zone,” where the human body has trouble functioning.
Some of those descending from the summit pleaded desperately with those ascending to clear a way for them to pass since they had run out of oxygen. “That sent chills down my spine,” said Tamang, 45, a mountaineering guide who lives in Russia. He fears that if no action is taken, the crowds next year could be worse, with potentially fatal consequences.
Because of the crowds, some climbers took longer than normal to make their way up the mountain. One of them was Nihal Bhagwan, a 27-year old Indian man who died of dehydration, exhaustion and high-altitude sickness, said Keshav Paudel of Peak Promotions, the expedition company guiding Bhagwan’s trip.
Bhagwan spent two days each at two intermediary points on the climb, said Paudel, though he should have spent only one at each place. Already weak when he climbed to the summit, Bhagwan became totally depleted while descending, said Paudel, who attributed his death both to the traffic and extreme exhaustion. Others who died this year included two other Indians, two Britons, two Irish citizens and one American.
One person who made it to the summit describes the callous behavior he saw that disillusioned him.
Former U.S. Navy corpsman C. Michael Fairman has climbed the highest spot in five continents and 41 states for the sake of his own mental health and to raise awareness about veteran suicide.
First in 2014 and again in 2016, Fairman climbed Mount Everest, where 11 people have died this climbing season.
”Somebody keeled over, and people would just walk over them and keep moving with not much interest in taking care of people,” Fairman, 54, of Columbus’ Clintonville neighborhood, said of his first trip to Everest.
That lack of humanity mixed with inexperienced climbers and ambitions to reach the world’s highest point were key contributors to what has become the fourth-deadliest climbing season in Everest’s history, Fairman said.
This illustrates how once people strongly set their minds on a goal, other considerations that are seen as standing in its attainment can disappear from their minds, even those that one would consider basic humanity. It may be that the oxygen deprivation plays a role in affecting their thinking, damaging their judgment and undermining their sense of empathy.