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.

What is altitude sickness?

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. Celina

    The lack of respect for oneself is appalling.

    “They died doing what they love” is a phrase that should be reserved for service men and woman, lawmen and fireman, NOT for people who are careless with their own lives and have no regard for the lives of others. Putting your life on the line doing something so incredibly selfish such as “climbing” is nothing to be proud of. These people leave behind loved ones, who are now trying to understand their loss.

    To those who admit to witnessing the dying, SHAME ON YOU. It sickens me to read about those who walked by dying climbers and did nothing to aid for fear of their own demise. If you fear your own demise WHY are you on the mountain? You should at the very least turn around and save yourself out of respect for the dead. How do you live with yourself knowing that you left someone to die? Do you tell tales of your own survival? Do you make the most of your life after having witness something so tragic, and if so how could you ever enjoy it.

    I read and re-read Sandra Leduc tweet, “Lots of dead or dying bodies. Thought I was in a morgue.” So nonsensical, there is no shock, no feeling in her words. I do not know her character but this, probably her last communication to the world, speaks volumes.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cheese

      Wow. Bleeding heart much?

      May 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Scruff

      Joining the military is a careless act with your body. Being told to kill people so the rich can get richer is not what I would call doing what you love.

      The sherpas are the real heros.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mudsock

      Celina says: “They died doing what they love” is a phrase that should be reserved for service men and woman, lawmen and fireman, NOT for people who are careless with their own lives and have no regard for the lives of others. Putting your life on the line doing something so incredibly selfish such as “climbing” is nothing to be proud of. "

      Your comments are cold-hearted and hateful. So, let me get this straight...example. Someone chooses to be a professional athlete, because that's what they love to do. During an event, the athlete dies unexpectedly whether it be from injury or sudden health issue (heart-attack), one is not allowed to make that statement of “They died doing what they love?" Is that what you're saying? No one said that statement should be or is reserved only for those who are service men or women or in law enforcement or protecting people. And I have direct family members that have been in the armed services, fire rescue and law enforcement, and some current as well. Your comments are one-sided and disrespectful. Shame on you..................................

      May 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      It is clear you no little to nothing, about climbing or the dangers of climbing Mt. Everest. What did you expect other climbers to do? Stop and carry stranded climbers down the mountain? Another example of your clueless-ness.

      As far as people dying pursuing a personal goal of theirs, I'm just going to assume you were typing this from the comforts of your little box, which you rarely deviate from. You're true, and make a most obvious and berated point, that they leave loved ones behind...but this is true for anyone who dies. Your solution would be to never do anything adventurous, risky, or challenging. Yeah...sounds like a great life!

      May 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeanie

      I agree. And so does Sir Edmond Hilary. And as to whether people can be rescued from Everest; people should look up Lincoln Hall. It takes a good person and help

      May 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grmmpy McFister

      I would be happy if everyone of these egotistical jagoffs died on Everest.

      They spend tens of thousands of dollars to litter a mountain with their garbage and corpses, and expect us to be impressed by their actions?

      "A morgue"? Good, let's hope more of these fools with too much time and money on their hands join the corpscles already there.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mike

    Crowded South Col route with inexperienced climbers? Then go Mallory's route over the three steps
    and do some real mountaineering!

    May 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Zelda

      The north side is extremely technical, especially the infamous "second step" and the ladder. There are also bottlenecks at that point due to inexperienced climbers getting hung up on the ropes with their crampons. The year I summited from the South, I spoke with folks who later summited from the north and they had a long wait to get DOWN the second step, some had to turn around going UP due to oxygen running out before they reached the summit. We began our summit bid a day before the rest of the crowd began to avoid being tied up with climbers who didn't even know how to properly use an ascender.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike C.

    When it's your time to die it's your time to die! Too many people are so afraid of death that they don't live the only life they will ever know consciously. NEWFLASH: WHEN YOU DIE YOU NO LONGER PHYSICALLY EXIST NO MATTER THE METHOD OF DEATH! These people are spending their own money to do what they choose. So they don't want to work 9-5 and don't get a thrill out of walking around Disney or Opryland. No slight to those whose existence consist of living out each day making sure that they don't die, but some of these comments are pathetically contorted in favor that everyone must live that way.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. alfadoc

    Now that so many have been to the top and the lines are getting longer for groups wanting to go, even with a limited list of groups wanting to go for several years from now, Mt. Everest will always be the greatest trek anyone can take. The trek to the top takes a team effort and corporate sponsorship to fund the expenses. The hike is not for the faint of heart and comes with the risk knowing you may not come back. You will die on the trail and no one can help you down. The trail is so steep and oxygen so thin, it is all a single individual can muster to get yourself up and down the mountain. A suggestion will be to take one piece of trash with you when you descend. This is what my Boy Scout troop did when we went camping, leaving a clean camp for the next person. As to the corpses, push them over the edge to fall down the mountain.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sandy

      Great idea (each trekkeer taking one piece of trash down with them) it's the law of the land when trekking elsewhere. Why make Everest the largest disgrace to Mother Earth? And yes, tumble the corpses down to a lower elevation to be recovered later.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Unit34AHunter

    In another hundred years the bodies will be head to toe along the entire route and there will be more trash up there than in your average urban garbage dump.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. stupid.pride

    Why don't they set up a top camp with permanent staff, rest rooms, a hostel plus hospital and perhaps even a McDonalds? They might also build safe solid cable car for the less adventurous?

    May 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      Seriously. If the Sherpas are so nice, let them run the hotel. Make it happen, Donald Trump!!

      May 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BigD

    Privileged humans have defiled Mount Everest with trash, camping gear, flags and their own frozen bodies. Am I impressed you trekked the mountain while someone else carried your techno-crap life support? Not at all. It was climbed once by men with rucksacks, woolen clothes, and wooden handled tools. Read the accounts . The mountain should be closed down after it is cleaned up.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. stupid.pride

    Maybe it made sense to climb that mountain back in Queen Victoria's days. A real "going forward to where no man has gone before". But now? In the days of space travel, not to mention hundreds of jet carriers shuttling old ladies and their fat nephews way over the Everest? Well, I guess it became some sort of open-air parcour of sorts, in the same drawer with base jumping and radical skating.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ian

      Nobody climbed Everest in Queen Victoria's time. The first successful ascent to the top was during the early days of Queen Elizabeth II reign.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AmazedinFL

    Celina, you said something very clueless here: "To those who admit to witnessing the dying, SHAME ON YOU. It sickens me to read about those who walked by dying climbers and did nothing to aid for fear of their own demise. " Let's engage in a basic level of logic and critical reasoning here: it's unbelievably difficult to get up and down Everest carrying the weight of enough supplies to keep oneself alive. If a person is dying on the mountain, there is nothing that is saving that person except getting them back down the mountain. Given what's involved in getting ONESELF up and down that mountain, how could you imagine it would be even POSSIBLE to get yourself, plus an inert 150 lbs or so of someone else back down? You might as well be expecting one of the climbers to grow a pair of wings or gain superman-like powers. Really...

    May 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Celina

      Continues to read the rest of my comment please. A logical person would turn around and go back down, not continue on their climb.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grumpy McFister

      You'll grasp at any rationalization to avoid facing the inhumane facts.

      If it's just a "burning building, every man for himself!" place then maybe people have no business there.

      Anyone who can coldly watch another person die and then continue on their recreational climb has proven themself to be a vile sociopath unfit to be amongst other human beings.

      May 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anne

    It is not sad if someone dies knowing the risks and having chosen to take those risks.

    What is sad are the families ( and trash ) that these selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed climbers leave behind.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. AmazedinFL

    Erik, your analogy is way off here. Columbus, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers were creating something, exploring something new that could actually help other people. The climbers going up Everest are serving nothing but an ego-based need to challenge themselves. They're not exploring any new frontier, doing something else that will help other people, or even doing something that wasn't done by others under rougher conditions (the original climbers who didn't have any of the steel ladders, oxygen, etc. used by modern climbers). I'm not begrudging their right to do it, but let's not be inaccurate and aggrandize it way beyond what it is, or by comparing it to folks like Columbus, Edison, etc., whose accomplishments and actions were actually things that could help other human beings or contribute something new.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Marcus

    I think people who climb Mt. Everest are stupid. It's been done. Nobody even cares anymore. I think the nepalese government should close Mt. Everest off and disallow any further attempts. If I had a relative or a friend who wanted to climb Mt. Everest, I would tell them they were stupid and ask them to put me in their will.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Celina

    My point Mudsock, which you so clearly missed, is that putting oneself in danger and dying for something so meaningless and without purpose is a shame.

    Oh and I too have family in the military and law enforcement, father, brother, uncles and cousins and I can guarantee you that they feel these lives were carelessly lost. I would be very surprised if your family didn’t feel the same.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. The Freezer

    Train for six months, pay 60K, pack all the gear you can up to 300 lbs. Add volunteer to the nearest frezzer that can have the temperature lowered to -50 degrees centigrade, and a wind upwards of 100kph. Raise the elevation to 36 thousand feet, or higher, and reduce the amount of oxygen accordingly, add fake snow as needed to complete the effect along with proper scenery on the walls. Come on, it sounds like a recipe for disaster, and in the case of the 200 bodies, it has been just that. These people think they can train for six months, and then pull an eighteen wheeler?

    May 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • AmazedinFL

      To The Freezer: that's not even mentioning all of the other hazards associated with the elevation and steepness of the mountain (e.g., the crevasses that climbers can fall down...).

      May 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AmazedinFL

    And by the way Celina, I don't disagree that many of these climbers are generally selfish–particularly the younger ones with families depending on them. It's one thing to take some risks because they're part of your job, part of what you're doing to provide for your family, put food on the table, pay bills etc. It's quite another thing spending a ton of money to put your life at risk for the sake of nothing else but your own ego. I don't have so much of a problem for someone who's single, or who's married but with no kids or grown kids and a spouse who is ok with the risks being taken. But someone in this situation who has young children and decides to climb Everest–this is an incredibly selfish risk. If taking care of your children and being around for them as they grew up was such a low priority–then you had no business having kids in the first place as you're clearly not responsible enough to be a parent. "Responsible enough" means placing the welfare of your family and your duties as a parent above any risk that is not taken to serve your family–particularly such an unreasonable risk as climbing Everest. It's like playing Russian Roulette with a gun to your family's head–for no purpose other than self aggrandizement.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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