Mt. Everest summit human traffic jam

Take a look at the picture that accompanies this article about 5 recent deaths on Mt. Everest. I’m really curious - it all these people are lined up and waiting to summit, how do the people on the summit get down? It seems like there’s no place to go.


In Into Thin Air, Krakauer reports that his descent was delayed (by an hour or so?) due to slow climbers, though there were only about two dozen summitting that day. But what OP’s photo depicts looks ridiculous.

Looking at the pic from this article:


I see people coming and going on at least this part of the route. Which means people descending have to wait for people to get out of the way.

I wonder how much time you get up there? If I got myself up there I’d like to take a few and take it all in. Or is there a Sherpa waiting to take your picture for you, only $15, and you can pick up the print at base camp?

There is no place to go - people are so delayed in line/ups that people are dying. It is a problem - the issue with having less climbers is that Nepal is a crazy-poor country and climbing permits is a big source of revenue. People die, but there is no repercussions, it’s assumed the risk of death is part of the deal. In fact, more people die, the more people want to climb it!

I think it’s only the Hillary Step where passing is not possible.

That’s not to say that it isn’t difficult and dangerous for oxygen-deprived and exhausted climbers to pass one another along the ridge.

There’s a long running Everest thread where this year’s traffic is already being discussed -

I was wondering - do people who’ve succeeded in the climb put a snowy mountain decal with the label “Everest” on the back of their vehicles, like marathon runners do with 26.2?

It must be a bummer having spent all that money and maybe had a toe or two turn black, if people back home don’t immediately know that you conquered Everest. :frowning:

*I was once offered a job working with one of the “Into Thin Air” guys who nearly died on the mountain. Didn’t take it though.

there was an amateur climber who turned back near the top because he was told to. He barely made it back alive. The next year he had a broken hand and made the summit and down OK.

Remember that ‘up there’, the summit of Mt. Everest is about the size of a pool table. So not too many people can be up there at once, and there would be obvious peer pressure from those behind you to get moving back down.

(Also, time pressure from the need to get back down before sunset – you don’t want to be climbing Everest in the dark! I seem to recall reading that most of the deaths have occurred on the way down, so it’d be sensible to not wait too long before starting back.)

I don’t see the point of this. Can’t somebody do a life-size reproduction of Everest from the Hillary Step to the summit? Put it in one of those high cube warehouses, lower the temperature and air pressure, blanket the walls with megatron displays, install a few fans… who’s to know? Where’s Disney? They have a fake Matterhorn already don’t they?

I suppose it will have to cost less than $11,000 a ticket or Nepal will undercut them.

They did something like this to make the film Everest. The footage on the Hillary Step and at the Summit was done on a replica on a sound stage.


If there’s so many people ascending the mountains, why not install some real infrastructure? Anchor a cable line so that at a minimum, cars full of supplies can be winched up and down. Install some shelters along that route where there would be staff, small heated and pressurized areas, etc.

And, most importantly, since the cable hoist system would be able to move up supplies, every climber would be required to check in at each waystation, have their pulse ox and core temperature checked, and get oxygen refills as necessary.

This would make it much safer - as I understand it, the primary problem killing climbers is just running out of oxygen tanks because they are forced to carry them themselves and can only carry a limited quantity.

I really hope this doesn’t happen. Everest should not become Disneyland. I don’t want to see Nepal suffer, but it seems to me if Nepal quadrupled the fee, it could make the same amount off of fewer climbers. I also think you should you should have to qualify in order to climb.

Excerpts from a New York Times article:

There’s a simple solution to the Everest situation: under-qualified climbers should stay off the mountain.

Nepal should double the price! Get half the people, same income! Make the inexperienced take courses…IN NEPAL !

Keeping it expensive has saved Bhutan from over tourism, and while I’m a budget traveller and this goes against my own interests, it’d be worth it to keep such places from being over touristed.

Just keep jacking the price till you get down to manageable numbers.

The authorities could send them up Annapurna first. When they come back down, they may pick up their Everest permit.

What kind of job? Toe autopsies? :confused:

Or we could level it:

A lot of people do not understand how difficult bringing in any kind of infrastructure to such a remote place would be. The “airport” runway at Lukla is only about 1700 feet long and has an almost 12% gradient. On arrival, the planes land uphill! On departure, after the 1700 foot runway, there is a cliff that drops down thousands of feet. Just on the other side of this drop off is a huge mountain. After clearly the runway, the pilot makes a sharp left turn to avoid this mountain. This is why the airport can only accommodate STOL aircraft and why passenger luggage weight is closely controlled. When I was there in 1981, the runway was dirt and grass. At least today its asphalt. The airport is only the beginning of your problems. There certainly aren’t any roads to Base Camp, only a somewhat narrow hiking trail. And Base Camp is a week’s walk away! The distance isn’t the worst problem. The altitude is. Lukla is at around 9300’; Base Camp is almost double that at 18000. One has to spend at least a couple of days along the way just resting at the same altitude or you’ll die. Helicopters can be used but their carrying capacity is greatly diminished due the to the thin air. Alright now you are at Base Camp. How are you going to get these heavy, unwieldy materials up the 29000’ mountain?

Maybe you can make American welfare mothers and freeloading immigrant food-stamp fraudsters carry them up in order to qualify for their monthly benefits?