KATHMANDU, May 25: As many as 600 individuals have climbed Mount Everest as of Friday even as the weather window for this season is closing.
Some remaining climbers numbering less than 100 will try to head for higher camps within May 29. The weather is predicted to worsen for a couple of days but will improve again from Monday.
“As of today, over 600 climbers have climbed Everest. Remaining climbers will head to the summit once weather improves. It may take a few days,” said Mira Acharya, director at the Department of Tourism.
The Everest season starts in March and ends by the end of May. This year, the Tourism Ministry issued a record number of permits to climbers. As 381 summit hopeful headed up within the brief weather window, climbers and Sherpa guides faced the worst traffic congestion, especially on two days – Wednesday and Thursday.
At least four of the climbing deaths are said to be due to the congestion on the world’s highest peak.
On Wednesday, American climber Donald Lynn Cash had died at the Balcony of Everest while descending from the summit. Three Indian climbers—fifty five-year-old Anjali Sharad Kukarni, Kalpana Das and Nimal Ashpak—died on Thursday.
The death toll reached seven on Friday, the latest casualty being a mountain guide. Dhruba Bista breathed his last at camp III. He fell sick while at a higher camp and died when efforts were underway to bring him down to base camp.
Earlier, another Indian, Ravi, was found dead at camp IV after reaching the summit. Likewise, Irish national Seamus Sean Lawless has gone missing from the Balcony.
Ravi had reportedly fallen into a gorge while descending together with his Sherpa guide. So far, the expedition company Seven Summit Treks has not been able to trace the body.
Why is Everest so overcrowd?
Officials at the Tourism Ministry say delay in fixing the ropes in time and climbers’ reluctance to head for the summit unless the weather fully improves also caused a traffic jam. Expedition operators initially planned to fix the ropes by May 11, starting their work from May 7. Consequently, plans to allow climbers to head for the summit were delayed.
Icefall ‘doctors’ were able to fix the ropes only in the second week of May. But the climbers were still unable to head out due to high winds and cyclone effects. All the climbers headed for the higher camps from May 21.
Climbers and Sherpas, who were camped at camp IV with a view to summiting Everest on May 21, couldn’t head out. Instead, they remained at the camp and climbers faced the worst crowding.
“There was not much human error. We tried our best to reduce accidents but in vain. It was because of mother nature,” an official said.