Climbing and conquering Mount Everest and seeing the world from the highest place on the Earth was once the holy grails of mountaineering. And this still is. Though more and more people every year are making attempts to climb Everest, the number of people going to climb Everest hasn’t decreased. It must be the dream of every climber and mountaineer to climb on the summit of Mt. Everest one day.
Not only, the climbers or the mountaineers, but this dream may also have a place in the heart of most of the people who have heard the name of Mt. Everest and knows that it is the highest peak on the Earth. So why don’t we go there? The reasons may be anything. That’s only my assumption.
Not everyone who tries to climb Mount Everest makes it. Every year, the numbers of climbers have to give up their lives in this attempt to touching the peak of Mt. Everest. When you are going to touch the world’s highest peak, then you must understand that the journey wouldn’t be so easy.
Though this is the fact that only about 1% of the climbers and mountaineers who attempt to climb Everest lost their lives every year, with the massive increase in the numbers of climbers and mountaineers, the death number seems much. So, the number of people dying on Everest has been increasing though, the death rate is about only 1%.
Causes Of Death On The Mount Everest
Mainly, the causes of all the death that have happened on Mt. Everest are Avalanche, Falling, Frostbite, Altitude Sickness, High Pressure, or Exhaustion. But here you will know why Mt. Everest is claiming so many lives.
It isn’t just falling. Mt. Everest is more than 29000 feet tall, which might make you think most victims of the mountain die. But in reality, the thing is that’s only the second most common cause of death. There are many other factors and causes that have been taking lives on Mt. Everest.
Deadly Climatic Conditions Like Avalanche Of Mt. Everest
The most common cause of death on Everest is the deadliest Avalanches that keep occurring timely and often on Everest. According to the BBC, most people who die on Everest are killed in avalanches. According to the reports, 68 people have lost their lives in avalanches until now.
The third most common cause of death on the mountain is exposure or frostbite, which accounts for about 11% of the fatalities. Other causes of death include falling ice, rope accidents, pneumonia, or even drowning. Surprisingly, more people die on the way down from the summit than on the way up, and route preparation is dangerous too.
A total of 120 people have died while working on the routes, with a handful more dying at base camp, en route to base camp, or during an evacuation. So literally, you aren’t so safe anywhere on Mount Everest.
High Traffic Jams And Very Long Routes
One of the things that have been killing people on Mt. Everest is something most we wouldn’t ever expect. And that’s is traffic. With the increasing numbers of climbers going to Everest, you may think there is a high traffic jam on Everest, but in reality, it’s not only about traffic jams on Everest.
Mt. Everest is one of the remote places on Earth. It takes 10 days just to get to base camp in Nepal, six weeks to acclimatize, and another nine days to climb to the top, and that’s assuming conditions are ideal.
So, in the real sense, it is not even so easy to reach the base camp of Mt. Everest. These are the things that make the Everest expedition very expensive.
In a strange and unexpected development, modern Everest has become something of a tourist trap. On the perfect climbing day, you might encounter hundreds of other climbers, all trying to reach the same exact point. So now, much like your favorite theme park, you have to wait in line.
The difference is, if you stand too long in line at a theme park, the only pain and suffering you will experience is the endless whining. But if you wait too long in line at Mount Everest, you might run out of oxygen and die. So bring lots of oxygen canisters. Or you know, just stay away from this mountain, and go line up for space mountain instead.
Lack Of Experience In Climbing
You can climb Everest from two different base champs: One in Nepal, and the other in Tibet. The governments behind both camps used to be pretty selective about who got to go up the mountain. Until 1985, Nepal tended to allow only one expedition on each route at a time.
But Nepal is not a wealthy nation, and a single climbing permit costs 11,000$. That represents a significant income for Nepal. In total, the climbing industry is worth about 300 million dollars in a year. The Nepalese government issued a record number of 381 permits in 2019 and announced no intention of scaling back, despite seeing the highest death toll since 2015.
ANG DORJE SHERPA who has summited Everest 20 times, says he has never seen the mountain so packed. There are also no official physical requirements for climbing permits, and some of the adventure outfits operating in Nepal are less than strict about who they will take to the summit. That clearly means more inexperienced climbers on the mountain, which means more danger for everyone.
Very Small Window Of Opportunity
You might imagine the best time to visit Everest would be high summer when you don’t have
to worry about blizzards and freezing temperatures. But you can only really climb Everest during the month of May, in a very short window of time between storm season and the summer monsoon season.
At base camp, daytime temperatures max out at around 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and at night they drop to freezing. That temperature drops roughly 2.7 degrees for every 490 feet of elevation, and the summit is 11, 429 feet above the base camp.
On the flip side, some parts of Everest can be hot in May, up to 90 degrees, especially broad, snowy expanses that reflect the sun. So even in ideal conditions, the weather is going to be bad. And just because you book your ascent during that narrow window doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be safe.
In recent years, there has been a rash of so-called BLUE SKY deaths, because everyone wants to climb Everest when the sky is blue, and in the 2019 season, the weather window was especially narrow. On May 22, 2019, climbers set a record for the most number of humans to reach the summit in a single day with a total of more than 200.
The Most Dangerous Death Zone
No matter how fit you are, once you reach a certain elevation, your body starts to literally die and you still have more than 4,000 feet to go. At that point, you’re racing against your own mortality.
That last 4000 foot is known as DEATH ZONE because there’s not enough air there for the human body to continue functioning.
Outside magazine editor Grayson Schafer has described the death zone by saying that,” Once you get to about 25,000 feet, your body just can’t metabolize the oxygen. Your muscles start to break down.
You start to have fluid that builds up around your lungs and your brain. Your brain starts to swell. You start to lose cognition. When you are at the altitude, each breath you take only contains about a third of the oxygen than it would if you were at sea-level.”
In the death zone, climbers can suffer from a heart attack, stroke, and altitude sickness. Fluid can accumulate in the lungs, leading to altitude pulmonary edema, which causes a cough that sometimes so severe it can crack a rib.
The low oxygen can also lead to transient blindness or hemorrhage in the blood vessels of the eyes. And the whole experience is so physically taxing that one study found Everest climbers typically lose between 10 and 20 pounds.
Exhausted Body And Mind
As the climber’s body fails, so does the brain. The climbers in the death zone can experience high-altitude cerebral edema, which can cause vomiting and impaired budget.
Some climbers might actually forget they are on Everest and behave irrationally at the worst possible time. Some climbers may have even experienced a kind of psychosis, and there are plenty of reports of people hallucinating. The conditions make it very difficult to make life-or-death decisions for yourself or anyone else.
Once you are in the death zone, there is very little you can do to help a fellow climber in distress, meaning that trying to help someone may just result in both of you dying.
Impaired Judgement And Summit Fever
Last but not the least, these two are also one of the main reasons for death on Everest. Impaired judgment and high altitudes are not a great combination. But when you add ego and heavy financial investment, you have got all the ingredients for death and despair.
There is a phenomenon called “Summit Fever” that experts fierce control over many Everest climbers. Its partially caused by impaired judgment, but it also has to do with fear of failure, and unwillingness to spend tens of thousands of dollars to not make it to the top.
People who have spent years preparing for Everest may not be ready to face defeat even when it’s obvious they are not going to make it. So instead of turning around and being humble, people push themselves through deadly conditions, and often they get deadly results.
Our Final Thoughts
These are the reasons that we thought are the exact reasons behind deaths on Mt. Everest that have been causing increasing numbers of deaths every year on Mt. Everest even though, the death rate is close to 1%. The data and the references in this article are taken from several sources like different sources.