Overheard on CNN.com: Is Mount Everest like 'a morgue'?
This photo, submitted by iReporter Chelsie Kozera, shows a Mount Everest base camp.
May 22nd, 2012
04:08 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Is Mount Everest like 'a morgue'?

What is being called a "deadly traffic jam" of climbers ascending Mount Everest might be a factor in the death of four people descending the world's tallest mountain.

The news came amidst the celebration of a landmark climb for Tamae Watanabe of Japan, who, at 73 years old, became the oldest woman to climb Mount Everest on Saturday morning. She broke her own 10-year-old record.

Bad weather has also been blamed. Sandra Leduc, a Canadian woman who is climbing Mount Everest, has been tweeting about the storms. She saw lightning in the distance and tweeted that the peak winds were roaring at 100 kph.

She also tweeted that two or three hours from the summit, her sherpa wanted the team to descend immediately, because it was the worst weather he had ever seen. The very low temperatures appear to have affected a regulator she was using, which also has an effect on her oxygen supply.

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But her most chilling tweet referred to those who did not survive their trek.

Michael Harley also made an observation that many are considering, perhaps for the first time.

Six people have died on Mount Everest this year, but it's not the disaster faced by climbers in 1996, the deadliest year to date for the mountain, with 16 deaths. On May 10, 1996, 10 teams were stranded by a storm and white-out conditions, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees below zero.

Adventurer Bear Grylls, who was one of the youngest climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest, shared his perspective on the tragedy.

Readers had much to say about the dangers of the climb versus the rewards. We received more than 1,500 comments on CNN.com.

Madhu: "Everest: Earth's highest graveyard."

daddy2010: "At least they died doing what they enjoy. Better than dying in a cubicle on Friday and having no one find the body till Monday."

darcechoke: "This is why I don't climb Mt. Everest. Well, this and the fact that I get winded climbing a flight of stairs."

Isocyanide: "Everest is the Disneyland of mountain climbing. Standing in line for hours and hours for the ride a million other people have taken."

Some talked not only about the dangers but about the bodies, the expenses involved and the waste left behind. The following commenter suggested a deposit to cover recovery expenses.

Unit34AHunt: "Everest has in excess of 200 known corpsicles, and massive heaps of discarded trash. Seems properly respectful of this earth to clear out all that detritus rather than allowing it to accumulate. 'They died doing what they love?' Tell it to the corpses of the ones who begged not to be left behind as they froze to death."

djfl00d: "Going up after dead bodies or trash means you bring less with you, which means you won't be carrying what you need to survive, and there's another dead body to go after."

For many, the sherpas who accompany climbers on some treks are indispensable.

MrsColumbo: "I hiked to Everest Base Camp in 95. The Sherpa's are unbelievable. They leave after you with your heavy pack, run by you get there ahead of you and have camp set up. It is not them who get paid the big bucks to take you to the top, it is the companies that sponsor them. You will not meet a nicer group of people than the Nepalese Sherpas."

Others were quite saddened by the news.

smc77: "I feel for these people and their families. I hike mountains, nowhere near this challenging, and have turned back when I thought the risk was too great. I can only imagine the draw to complete this goal, the costs (planning, physical, financial) involved, and the disappointment one must ponder when making the go / turn-back decision. I hope that all can take solace in knowing they died doing something they enjoyed and was important in their lives."

Would you climb Mt. Everest? What do these attempts say about humanity? Comment below and tell us what you think.

You can also sound off on video via CNN iReport.

soundoff (532 Responses)
  1. Little Bit

    No way would I climb, nor would I let my spouse ever climb. Forget that NEED you have, if you have a family, your first concern should be them!

    May 23, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  2. Chris

    I agree with most of you that it is increadibly foolish and a little selfish too – but I do also understand the irrationality of human nature and the reasons some people have to want to do these sorts of things. I just think that there should be some kind of minimum training or health scans etc before you should be allowed to go up there. I think if people go up there to die (suicide) then that is truly awful. Their decomposing bodies up there for all to see no burial for the family to say goodbye? Selfish, if it's true.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      They bodies don't decompose up there. They stay frozen.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Chris you say "It's incredibly foolish and a little selfish too". What is a non-selfish pursuit? If you enjoy something and participate in it, aren't you being selfish? If you don't enjoy something and refuse to take part in it, aren't you being selfish? Aren't the family members being selfish if they insist you die locally so they can have a burial and they can say goodbye? Everyone is selfish and pursues the things that they think will make them happy, it's not fair to call others out on it because their selfish pursuits are different from your selfish pursuits.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. HikingExpert

    Climbing Everest is so common that the only time there's a story about it is when someone dies trying.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Julnor

      Agree, and you notice not one statement about how many people will summit this year. Makes it seem like 50% of climbers die, whereas it's closer to 1%.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Sadly, HikingExpert, that's the truth of media today — "If it bleeds, it leads." So going to school is so common that the only time there's a story about it is when someone dies trying. And flying commercially is so common that the only time there's a story about it is when someone dies trying. And driving is so common that the only time there's a story about it is when someone dies trying. No matter what people do, no one cares unless someone dies tryin'. Then it's news.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Robert P.

    - Mount Everest is slowly becoming another Easter Island or Haiti : A lifeless desert filled with garbage !! Another brilliant example of mankind's stupidity with it's environment !!!

    May 23, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dantheman

    It's a modern work of art in progress, a tribute to the futility of man vs nature when given such hubris.... popsickle anyone?

    May 23, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. Melodykari78

    Absolutely amazing that people take on this mountain.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. Michael

    If climbing a 29000 ft mountain inspires you, then do it... There seems to be so little to be inspired about in the world today.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Yes, and make it a real challenge and do it without tons of equipment, oxygen tanks, and Sherpas doing all the work for you. Then I'll be impressed. Oh, and remember to take carry out everything you brought with you.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sigh

    People pay hundreds of thousands on fancy cars, houses, advance degrees, and other "things" to prove what they're made of to their neighbors, community, and others in general. These people spend the money to prove to themselves what they're made of. They know going up that they can be left behind or die. They agree from the onset that they are responsible for their own safety and have no expectation of others to abandon the climb because they were ill prepared. It's not about stoking their own ego or wasting money. Most of these people have spent a lifetime preparing for the climb, saving, training, and show a great deal of respect for the environment. The garbage and other stuff is nothing compared to what the average person contributes to landfills. The money is nothing compared to what the average person wastes on materialistic pursuits. I sure hope those who are critical of those pursuing a once in a lifetime opportunity and dream aren't turning around and buying products, watching shows, or buying merchandize to support the drug habits and frivolous spending of NASCAR drivers, pro athletes, television celebrities, and pop stars.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Landfills are built to contain garbage. Mt. Everest is not. It seems incredible to me that climbers would think it ok to leave their crap on the mountain.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dave

    The great mass of humanity works nine to five every day, comes home, cooks dinner, sits on the couch for three hours and then goes to bed and they are content with this level of challenge in their lives. On weekends they garden or shop or eat out; for them a big adventure is theater, wine tasting or eating out at a pricey restaurant. Do we really expect them to understand the motives of mountain climbers, scuba divers, hang gliders, paragliders, mountain bikers, bungee jumpers, base jumpers, long distance sailors, motocross racers, trail runners, hikers, campers, river rafters, kayakers, test pilots, astronauts, inventors or innovators? Just as the masses say of the adventurers "I can't believe they live like that, it's stupid." the adventurers look at the masses and say "I can't believe they live like that, it's stupid."

    May 23, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Pam

      I agree with you Dave. I am one of these people who works 8 to 5, goes home, cooks dinner, spends three hours on the couch watching tv and then goes to bed. I wish I had the desire to climb Everest. These people who set such impressive goals for themselves are an inspiration to me. Who knows maybe someday I will. I respect people who, against all odds, die doing something they love. Our lives belong to us and us alone.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. dawgfish

    If you have a family that relies on you to support them, you are a fool to try Everest or anything else that is as dangerous as this. An extremely selfish fool at that.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      If you are spending the time and money to undergo Everest, chances are there isn't anybody that actually needs your support. Haven't you ever wanted to commit to a great undertaking? No, you'd rather sit behind your computer and insult people who went out and tried to conquer something? Well then keep quiet.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim in PA

      Agreed. Anyone with young kids would have to be supremely selfish to attempt this. For every 10 succesful ascents, there is 1 death. This is literally in the same order of magnitude as playing Russian Roulette. But if you are young/single... go for it. It's your life and your business.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. phan

    I'll let other people climb Everest for me. It's not worth it.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    It's a tough challenge no matter how 'common' is may seem and many seem to want to test themselves. As for selfish, well most of us are selfish and can't seem to think a good thought about others or do anything but what they want to do so finding it on Everest is no surprise.

    On the subject of "dieing doing what they wanted". They did die but I don't think any of them really believed it would be themselves that died (goes back to the selfish thing). I feel for their families and lament at their passing but that is life and they have moved on to the next stage in their lives.

    And I salute that spirit of adventure that so exceeds us that comment from our safe spots in front of our computers like we are something special when we are not. We can't even make comments that improve the human condition when others die.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Well said Mike. Those people on Everest are doing something big and exciting and challenging and most of us sit in front of our computers all safe and warm and bored and mock them. We will never know the feelings of accomplishment that they feel and we will never attempt anything big because we won't think we can do it, but those who return from Everest will know that they can accomplish big things.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. JoJo

    Seriously? We are even trashing the great Mt. Everest??? I don't have any pity for these people. Stupid is as stupid does. If you're going to kill yourself at least don't leave your trash and crap lying around. Getting tired of the human race. "I'm going to climb that mountain!" Ok, idiot, you go! Take your kids and relatives with you! Accomplish some real things in life, like helping other people or making a difference in someones life. Climbing a rock is meaningless. Frigging animals.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Seriously, Jojo? Isn't this how the Dominicans feel about Christopher Columbus? Sure North Americans all him a hero for sailing across the Atlantic, but he also brought European diseases to the Caribbean. So clearly one man's saint is another man's sinner. You decry the garbage on Everest (a place you will never see) and yet you produce as much garbage every day but feel pious because it's trucked off to a place you will never see. What's the difference? Everyone of us has a standard we judge others against. We expect everyone to work hard and support themselves and their families. We expect that everyone can save up some extra to enjoy something special — a vacation, or a sports car, or a swimming pool. If climbing Everest is the special thing someone wants to enjoy, why cry foul on them and not on someone who chooses to buy a sports car or travel in Europe? What's your dream? Saving a bunch of money to make a generous gift to charity? I doubt it.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. DaINfamous

    Why in the HELL, don't they stop these dam people from claimbing this mountain. Its just REDICULOUS!!

    May 23, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jim in PA

    The adventurous will always be criticized by the jealous lazy masses. Personally, I lack both the desire and ability to climb Everest. But to those who do attempt it; good luck and be safe.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
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