Daily Archives: 31 May 2019

Mount Everest

It’s a long way from the days of Mallory and Hillary:


Traffic jam at the top of the world; Photo credit: Project Possible/AFP/Getty Images

I’m absolutely fascinated by the recent photo to come from the summit of Mount Everest. Over 100 climbers, queued up in a line, in the death zone of Everest, waiting to summit. The death toll on Everest has reached 11 this year, as a result.

A record number of permits, 381, to climb the world’s tallest peak were issued. Which means at least double that number, if not closer to triple, were on the mountain, since guides and sherpas are not included in the permit number.

Also, the window of good weather was extremely small compared to most years, so everyone was forced to summit basically at the same time. Waiting in a line, using up oxygen, stepping over dead bodies that had been left behind, all while trying to combat exhaustion in the death zone.

The entire concept, just spins my head. The desire to climb Everest, I get, although I’ve never really had that great burn to do so. We’ve reached the point where we wait in a line at the roof top of our planet, for what? To take a selfie? Thank about it: One couldn’t take a picture from the summit without people in it! I live in Fairbanks so that I can avoid lines. I walk out of the post office if the line has more than three people in it. I realize, I’m the odd duck on this planet, but I can not imagine my extreme disappointment, if I climbed Everest, only to be forced to endure a conga line before summiting.

One has to ask about the skill level of so many climbers. Are they experienced climbers, or thrill seeking amateurs on a selfie hunt? Peter Beaumont wrote in The Guardian that climbing the world’s tallest peak “has become a trophy experience.” I have to admit, I agree with him.

What would George Mallory think about The Mountain now?