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. Norkio

    So climbers don't even carry their own stuff? The Sherpas carry it all? That's kind of cheating, isn't it. The first climbers to reach the summit didn't even have oxygen masks. Climb it old school to really impress the world.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. t-bone

    People should be allowed to take all the risks they want.
    Taxpayers however should not be held responsible for sending rescuers out after them.
    If you choose to leave your home to pursue one of these dumb ideas, you are responsible for your own safety until you return.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      I absolutely agree, t-bone. As does every Everest climber. They know they could die out there and have no expectation of rescue. I think that people who want the safety net for their adventures should pay for it either in insurance or after the fact (like when a mountain climber is rescued domestically and presented with a $20,000 invoice for the costs incurred in saving their life). But operating a tax-funded rescue service for idiots goes against darwinism.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hypocrisy Hunter

      t-bone, who gets to decide which ideas are "dumb" and which are not? Some people think that spending your life sitting on your butt and never getting off it all day is a dumb idea too.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tag

      I agree with T-Bone to a point. Yes, it's all right for people to take the risks. However, the expeditions should be responsible for hauling out what they take it. As a former hiker on the Appalachian Trail the rule was to leave it as you found it. Everest is a wilderness area and should be treated the same. These expeditions should be required by the Nepal government to leave the mountain as they found it. Of course, after all these years, it's a little late. Sad, very sad to see a mountain trashed as this one has been.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hypocrisy Hunter

      Extending t-bone's "logic" further, no taxpayer should ever have to pay for public hospitals, lifeguards on public beaches, safety programs taught in public schools, OSHA, enforcement of safe-workplace regulations, safety guidelines for food, water, air, automotive and airplane safety requirements, etc. After all, anyone engaging in any "dumb" idea, such as eating, breathing, traveling, commuting, recreation or holding a job, knew the risks. We should all live by t-bone's ideals – everyone for themselves, and no one be causght dead hellping anyone else. That's what life is all about, right t-bone?

      May 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • vsg

      I'm sure you would't say that if you had a loved one facing that challenge... Besides, i can think of 100 things that I pay taxes for that I can't stand; none of which has anything to do with rescuing people from a life threatening situation.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • vsg

      t-bone... I'm sure you would't say that if you had a loved one facing that challenge... Besides, i can think of 100 things that I pay taxes for that I can't stand; none of which has anything to do with rescuing people from a life threatening situation. t-bone

      May 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. LadyB

    Dave is right, from what I've heard, it's an open air frozen toilet. It's slopes are literally covered in frozen human feces. Nice.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. FLorEs

    why don't they bring the bodies down.??

    May 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • TonyInNYC

      How much would it cost for a team to climb up there and retrieve a body?

      May 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Noel Hollis

      Because in order to hike that far you have to carry all of your supplies, and it reaches the human limit, so in order to bring down bodies, supplies would have to be left, which just makes more bodies.
      Not to mention, it's insanely difficult to get yourself up and down, much less carrying 130+ pounds of frozen deadweight.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grmmpy McFister

      Who says they have to come down in one piece?

      Chainsaws aren't that heavy, and frozen meat isn't hard to cut.

      It's not like it's possible to be "disrespectful" to the remains of someone who cared so little about their well-being, or the feelings of their family and friends, that they purposely placed themself at fatal risk for the ego-stroking gratification of being able to say "I climbed Mt Everest - and you didn't."

      I suspect some enterprising Sherpas would be happy to get into the rich western corpsicle-retrieval business. $100,000 for the dismembered thawing leftovers, jammed in a garbage bag, sounds fair.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Me

    in most cases (at least in Nepal), you are required to leave a credit card on file before you begin your climb in case there is an emergency and they need to rescue you. They make you sign a letter stating that it is okay to charge up to $10,000 to your card if an emergency rescue is needed and then you can deal with insurance later. So, I don't see how taxpayers would end up footing the bill in most cases

    May 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. elvisg

    Somebody should open a McDonald's or Burger King up there. It would probably get a lot of business. Also a funeral home and some spot-a-pots...

    May 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. tez07

    When I go, I will drag a step ladder to the summitt. When I get there, I will pull it out and climb the three steps, this way ensuring that I will have gone higher than anyone previous.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • toldUso

      You will not go. You may not even get off your couch.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. NewYorker1

    What's the point to mountain climbing? I mean, really? You can't find anything else better to do with your time? It's just dumb.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      That's stupid. Just because you have no interest in some activity doesn't make it pointless for everyone else. I don't have any interest in professional sports but I don't begrudge others from enjoying them.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Climber

      Do you play video games or watch NASCAR? That is just turning your brain into mush, and watching people drive in left-handed circles. Why critique people's hobbies, it's what make their personal life that much more fufilling to them. I'm sure that you have a hobby that someone else would call 'dumb'.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cvw77069

    I don't need a life threatening activity like mountain climbing, my wife threatens my life just fine
    .

    May 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. just a gurl

    wow – Ever Rest – names tell a lot more than we think *chilling*

    May 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. lorne

    These people get the Collective Darwin Award for 2012.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Greg

    Hey I ride a motorcycle while you idiots in cars text and talk on your phone, it doesnt stop me from doing what I love to do.
    Climb on people climb on.......

    May 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Grmmpy McFister

      On behalf of transplant recipients, I thank you.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Unit34AHunter

    Ethical outdoorsmen follow the credo "Leave no trace" set forth by Aldo Leopold, John Muir, and Theodore Roosevelt. Obviously, American outdoor values cannot be enforced in Nepal, but any American who leaves anything behind on Everest is a lout. Just because they let you get away with it, out of desperation for your money, does not excuse doing it.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Will-o

    The commercial services that take people up Everest are so good at this point (thanks to the Sherpas) that they
    can get just about anyone who is reasonably fit and wants to pay the fee up to the summit. Most of these people actually survive and make it back down although a sudden change in weather can alter that outcome. They use aluminum ladders and fixed ropes to get clients past the technical sections and Sherpas to carry thier packs and if necessary push/pull them up. What kind of accomplishment this is for the clients IDK. Why a serious adventurer would want to do this is beyond me when you have K2, Anapurna and other more challenging mountains nearby that are not nearly as crowded with amateurs as Everest.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Unit34AHunter

    Have read Ms. LeDuc's twitter feed. I wish her the best of luck. Have to say, though, since I have no skin in the game, that what I'm reading now looks like rationalization.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Grmmpy McFister

      Hope she dies and joins the corpsicles.

      She doesn't care about "the dying" right there in front of her. Why should anyone care about her?

      May 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
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