There may be too many people, too much rubbish, climbers fighting with sherpa guides, but Mount Everest remains a wonder of nature
In recent years, mountaineers have complained about the over-commercialisation of the Everest ascent, likening the climbing path to a “traffic jam”.
And although more than 4,000 people have scaled the summit since Sir Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first conquered the mountain in 1953, hundreds have also perished.
Here are the things you need know about climbing the world’s tallest mountain:
• Scaling Everest is much easier than it used to be. In 1990 just 18 per cent of summit attempts were successful, but in 2012 that figure was 56 per cent.
It’s also getting safer. Better equipment and modern weather forecasting are credited with improving fatality rates.
• Around 250 people have died in pursuit of Everest’s peak. The “death zone” begins at 8,000 metres high, where oxygen levels significantly fall and conditions become increasingly harsh.
• Avalanches are particularly deadly. It was an avalanche that killed 12 sherpa guides in the latest incident, just as it was another that killed four people in October 2013, and another that claimed nine lives in 2012.
Tashi Sherpa lies on a hospital bed after he was rescued and airlifted from the avalanche site at Mount Everest (REUTERS)
• There are too many people trying to climb Everest. Until 1985, Nepal allowed only one expedition on each route to the summit at a time. But no such strictures exist today, and 658 climbers made the summit in 2013.
• Nepal has announced it will introduce new restrictions for aspiring conquerors of Everest, and is even toying with the idea of placing ladders on Hillary’s step.
• Such action is being taken to reduce the number of queues like this one. Ralf Dujmovits, the mountaineer who took the photograph, said: “My deep hope was that the number of climbers on Everest would be reduced. But I fear that I’ve made Everest more popular with this picture.”
• The overcrowding has been dangerous, with a South Korean man suffering snow blindness, delirium and hypothermia as he waited four hours for more than 300 climbers to pass.
• The sweet spot for Everest climbing occurs for roughly fortnight in the spring, with 70 per cent of 2013’s climbs taking place between May 13 and 22.
• Littering is a big problem on Everest. So much so that new rules state that groups must return to base camp with eight kilogrammes of rubbish for each team member or they will forfeit their deposit of over £2000.
• Climbing Everest is getting cheaper. Where it used to cost £15,000 to scale the summit during peak season, it now costs £6,500.
• And if you fancy yourself a pro, pay a reduced rate of £1,500 for an off-season pass.
• In 2013, there was a hundred person brawl at 23,000 feet during which three European mountaineers were told by a group of around 100 sherpas: “Now we kill you.” It is reported that the sherpas were disrespected by their wealthy clients.
• Use this interactive image of Everest and the surrounding area to see the trail, the camps, the people and the wonderful sights.