Hyderabad: Following an unprecedented “traffic jam” near the summit of Mount Everest, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) has stopped accepting applications for expeditions to the “peak of heaven”.
On Wednesday, over 200 mountaineers from several countries who took the South Col route to reach the summit of the 8,848-metre peak were forced to wait in a distressing queue.
According to the latest report, eight mountaineers have died, and another eight are missing.
In an alert published on its official website, the apex national body for mountaineering and allied sports has stated, “Applications for Mount Everest expedition are no longer being accepted. No further applications will be entertained.”
The number of deaths recorded this week is more than the total number of deaths that took place last year. Two Indian climbers, Kalpana Das (52) and Nihal Bagwan (27), died while descending on Thursday. According to local tour organizers, Nihal Bhagwan was “stuck in the traffic for more than 12 hours and therefore exhausted.”
Mountaineer Tashi Malik explains, “I didn’t really have to wait in a line, but waiting in a queue can be daunting. It sucks the energy out of a climber. In a traffic jam, exhausted climbers are often forced to wait several hours for their turn to ascend or descend on a single rope, thereby increasing their chances of exhaustion, frostbite or altitude sickness. Climbers also run out of oxygen during the final phase of the ascent.”
Mountaineer Aneesh Dawan said, “Spending a long time above the death zone (where there is not enough oxygen for the human body to survive) increases the risk of altitude sickness. Some climbers even collapse after they scale up the peak. And if one has to wait too long to descend, one could die out of weakness, in addition to a likely quake, avalanche, and an increase in wind intensity among other causes.”
Mountaineering has become a lucrative business in Nepal. Nepal has issued permits to 379 climbers this season to scale Mount Everest. Mount Everest has become a hub for tourism as even those who can't do as little as pitch a tent for themselves want to travel deeper into the mountain, provided they have local help. The famous trek routes Kheer Ganga and Triund, located in the Dharamshala district, witness over 5,000 tourists every weekend.
“The conditions this year have been far worse than what we’ve witnessed previously. Factors such as high-intensity winds are leaving a large number of climbers with a narrow window to reach the summit,” said Mr Pradeep Sangwan, founder of the Healing Himalayas Foundation, which takes up mass clean-up operations on the mountain.