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. Marie R.

    Anyone who makes ignorant, stupid comments like 'at least they died doing something they loved' I recommend you read Jon Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air" about his own Everest climb, his survival and the many who didn't survive in 1996. Krakauer said he wished he had never gone there. Everest or K2 or any high altitude glacier mountains should never be approached lightly. There are at least a thousand ways to die before you get anywhere near the summit. Ask the families of those who have died climbing that mountain "because it is there" if they would prefer their loved one be sitting behind a desk instead of dead on Everest, another interment in the graveyard that is the Death Zone.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Prasad

      K2 is, of course, much more difficult to climb than Everest is. We rarely seem to hear (or read) about expeditions to K2.

      May 22, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dante

      One of the recent deaths...I can't remember the exact nationality so I won't speculate.....died 1 or 2 meters from Scott Fischer. Scott Fischer died on Mt Everest during the contraversional 1996 season.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • whineyface

      It's easy to say you wish you'd never done something after the fact. Why'd he do it in the first place? Because he probably loved challenging himself.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Mace

      That was the year of the worst storm ever recorded on Mount Everest during climbing season. I wouldn't wade into the middle of the Mississippi when it's in flood stage either....

      May 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. evensteven

    Everest is a challenge precisely because it is a dance with death. If there was no risk of death, it would have much less appeal, therefore the dead bodies are a fair reminder of the price to be paid for failure . . .

    Such risk also symbolizes the great need egos have to conquer "big" things . . . one without much ego does not see the need to take such risk merely to make a statement . . .

    May 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Safira

    The human race has always accepted challenges, each in his own way. It's who we are and what we do. The trouble with the Everest challenge of today is that the challengers are outside their capabilities, lured and lied to by technology and other people's efforts and sacrifice. Got the money? Nothing else required.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Paul Wilson

    Time to seal the mountain off forever from any & all human contact. There are dozens of bodies up there lying under the stark sky -because it's unfeasible to bring them back down for ID & burial.

    In a fan-fic I wrote, a being named Sephira destroys mt. Everest, leaving but an open plain. She also later destroys the planet Pluto, and countless comets and asteroids, throwing them into Neptune,Jupiter and the sun !

    May 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. JBC

    What a bunch of IGNORANT comments. Is there no one monitoring these posts? Everyone who says it is easy are displaying their naivity and ignorance. The sherpas are HIGHLY respected by those that climb. The sherpas are also WELL-PAID for their time and skill. Most Napalese dream of the money they can make helping those climb everest. These posts are a bunch of cubicle no-goods who like to sound off on issues they have read about for the last 2 minutes. Just because it is on the internet does not make it the complete truth.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • nsaidi

      Thanks for your opinion. Posters can share their opinions, and we encourage a thoughtful and respectful debate.

      May 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hipster

    To me, climbing mount everest seems a little like going into space. Sure you can do it if you have enough money, but is it really an accomplishment if all the work is done for you and you just fork over a big sum of money?

    May 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jeff

      "Sure you can do it if you have enough money, but is it really an accomplishment if all the work is done for you and you just fork over a big sum of money?"

      An obvious exaggeration, but with a grain of truth. The ropes are laid for you by the real mountaineers and climbers, as are ladders. You are told where to go and how to walk and what to eat and breathe. As someone else said, the Disneyland of mountain expeditions. Still very difficult and dangerous, of course. But it's something of a farce nonetheless. What it partly does is allow people there who don't belong there. They clog the route, causing standing delays at chokepoints, and frostbite at the very least. Why 100 people are allowed on the summit on a given day is outrageously dangerous. Pure greed on the part of the local governments and expedition companies.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  7. annie pace

    I find the whole risk taking industry a very selfish endeavor. The only good thing about the Mt. Everest climb is that it is impossible to rescue these selfish individuals but there are many risky pursuits that do put others in jepardy to rescue the fools that do this type of things. I am amazed at how myopic these people are that they do not realize thier addiction, as with all addictions, leave loved ones left grieving for their foolish choices.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mace

      The people that rescue them make the same choice... No one forced them into their occupation either, think before you speak.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Stephen

    This does seem pretty simple and common sensical. But then again most of these adventurers care nothing for the cost or lives of those who are put in danger trying to rescue them during their idiocy.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Smart Human

      Let me guess...you're 300 lbs. and sit on the couch watching TV and that's your life in total.

      May 22, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy the Mick

      No, but i am 6ft 215, and am presently keeping up with the "Mid-West" situation, following the "Tracking" and
      storm structure as it form's. " Maybe, that's a little above your I.Q. to understand how we "TRY" to help our
      fellow "Mankind", to help them to save their own live's ! Give up "Twitter & Facebook" for a moment of 2,
      and try { Eventhough it may make you reach your extreme's } and realize WE are trying to help people and
      get them safe. before it's too late. { The comment's i am giving, are the result's of 30 + year's of education,
      that was NOT given to me by "Public Education", rather than education & information that i paid for out of
      my OWN pocket. You see, some of us "Really" want to know, VS, some of us who just want to "Pass"

      May 22, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • matt

      generally speaking, people with money don't tend to flaunt it.
      that being the case, i believe your entire statement is suspect.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
    • mike k.

      Lots of spelling, grammar and general stylistic errors. Maybe a sound public education would have helped.

      May 23, 2012 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
    • shutyaface

      Who peed in your Cheerios?

      May 23, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • enigma65

      Oh, so that's why your grammar and syntax are so bad. Shoulda' gone for public education after all... lol

      May 23, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Not sure who you are talking about, but actually I dedicate myself to making the world a better place. When not working, I spend a fair bit of time on community projects. I am sickened by the waste of time, energy and resources that these people spend climbing a hill. It's selfish, egotistical and absolultly pointless.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Julnor

      So long as you're not judging......

      May 23, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Drew

      YEAH! All that money that is paid to Nepal's government doesn't help anyone. And the stimulus that comes to the economies of the Khumbu are non-existent. Actually do some research on the number of charity projects that have stemmed from climbers on Everest, and your ignorant comment will be utterly destroyed.

      May 23, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      To each his own, Bob. And trash-talking those who love mountaineering does not make the world a better place.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • SmellFunny

      I agree Bob. People spend so much of their time and resources satisfying themsleves by climbing up a hill that has already been climbed thousands of times just so they can pat themselves on the back. I would not call this exploration, I would call it a waste of time and money.

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

      Well Bob, we all are allowed to make our own decisions. I'm sickened by protesters. I hate that they are out there waving signs and yelling and screaming about what they believe in. But you know what? It's their choice. Our society is set up so that you work a third of the hours in the week and have your evenings and weekends to do what you want. You choose to serve in the community and that makes you feel good, others choose to go dancing, or hiking, or climbing or lay on a beach or protest whaling ships. To each his own, live and let live.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • ProgHead777

      And so what if he or she is? If that person is sitting on that couch next to their children then they're doing something more worthwhile than those human popsicles frozen to the side of Mt Everest. Don't fool yourself into thinking you live a fuller, happier life than most people because you enjoy risking your life. Maybe an adrenaline junkie is just another kind of junkie, hurting people around them for their own selfish pleasure.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • truebob

      Don't knock it until you've tried it. It takes determination, resources, and looking death in the eye to get to 300 lbs, and I should get some respect for the effort.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • KK

      180 pounds. The rest is correct.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      but my taxes dont pay for the 300 pound guy sitting at his computers rescue either.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • BR549

      Lol, do you think your taxes pay for the rescue or something? These people pay 40, 50, $60,000 to make a climb. They and the rescuers know what's at stake. Just because you're afraid to live on the edge, don't bad mouth someone else for doing it.

      May 22, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • BosMonkey

      Maybe those same people can respect the earth and cleanup – or pay someone to cleanup since they seem to have teh money – the tons of garbage they leave!! So disrespectful. There's no honor or respect coming from me and probably most people for junking up the earth all for their own, selfish act. I could care less if they can't carry the stuff back down, find a way.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • MsNimitz25

      From the comfort of my armchair, I read about one expedition leader who carefully lectured his clients when they were still at Base Camp that there was no way they could expect the Sherpas who were supporting the expedition to give up their lives to try to rescue them ( I think he was referring to rescues in the Death Zone). Those who climb Everest must surely know that they are truly on their own when they get way up high in the Death Zone, in the dark, in bad weather.

      God! I wish I could go there, but I would need oxygen just to survive Base Camp.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • pierce

      Well done. Good point.

      May 22, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      Columbus was an idiot, too. So was Thomas Edison, for playing with electricity. Wright Brothers? Morons. And let's not talk about astronauts. Anyone who pushes the boundaries of human discovery, endurance, and exploration is to be ridiculed. Now go back to your couch and eat a potato.

      May 23, 2012 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Don`t like fools

      Yes and someone climbing Mt Everest is doing it to make the same type of discovery that Edison and the Wright brothers did. Your comment makes no sense. Think about it before you bash others`points of view.

      May 23, 2012 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
    • ProgHead777

      If you think that climbing a rock that has been climbed thousands of times for nothing but bragging rights is even remotely equivalent to astronauts and explorers pushing the frontiers of the human race then you are just as delusional as those people who died on that mountain. It's true that people have the right to kill themselves however they please but they don't necessarily deserve respect for doing so. At least, not those individuals that are leaving behind grieving children, spouses and parents, which is almost certainly the vast majority of them. Abandoning the people who love and depend on you for a photograph of yourself standing on top of a frozen rock does not make you a hero.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Toto

      Totally agree ! Most likely, these climbers are people who are unable to get a divorce etc.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Enlighten me. Tell me how climbing a peak that has been climbed thousands of times before is comparable to any of these accomplishments.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Morons Everywhere

      Erik....did you really just compare people that feel the need to climb a mountain for no important reason to some of the greatest minds/explorers that ever lived? You sir are an idiot!

      May 23, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • HikingExpert

      All the people you mentioned benefited fellow man. How can you compare the two?

      May 23, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • MW

      Human discovery? How many time does this mountain need to be dicsovered? The analogy doesn't fit.

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

      Yes but you'll note that Edison wasn't figuring out the lightbulb by licking car batteries.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • JeramieH

      I hate to break this to you, but Everest has already been climbed by thousands of people already. It's hardly pushing the bounds of human exploration.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Gaz

      Yes, but Columbus, Edison, the Wright brothers, they broke new ground to do something that had never been done. The summit of Everest has been reached many times by many people so this is not new ground nor is it going to help or change the world in any great way. This is climbing rock and ice to see if you can survive, not really a good comparison. Now that said, if someone wants to do it, so be it, but unless you are testing new equipment that could save lives or the like, it’s simply an individual’s goal, and if it doesn’t go well, hopefully only impacting that person and not, say a young family left behind.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      What a stupid argument. Climbing Mt. Everest has nothing to do with exploring or inventing something. It doesn't make you a pioneer, anymore so than visiting any other landmark.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Exactly... just rely on the bible, it has all the answers....

      May 23, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Dr.Cole

      I couldn't have summed up the haters, trolls, etc...any better than you did. Thank you for your words. :)

      May 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • tez07

      The efforts of those you mention had a benefit to the greater society. It is called personal pursuit for a reason. While I do not diminish the importance at the individual level of pushing oneself beyond a comfort level and self achievement, I would not put them in a category with Edison.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • tez07

      The efforts of those you mention had a benefit to the greater society. It is called personal pursuit for a reason. While I do not diminish the importance at the individual level of pushing oneself beyond their comfort, I do not put them in a category with Edison.

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

      Everyone you listed served a purpose, they did something with their lives which resulted in progress for humankind. What purpose do these climbers serve, what is the greater good in all of this?

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

      @ERIC....

      Could NOT have said it better myself.

      BREAKING STORY: Obama now supports climbing Mt. Everest! He did not flip-flop, but rather "evolved". The hitch is you have to give your oxygen and food to those who are running low.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raf

      Bad comparison. These tourists are contributing nothing to human discovery or invention.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      One problem, the discover of America, electricity, and manned flight had a purpose to better humanity. What purpose is served by climbing Everest? Only to stroke a few self-absorbed egos.

      May 26, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      @Erik - apples and oranges - those people were discovering something that changed the world. Climbing Mt. Everest is a self serving adrenaline junkie adventure. Certainly an individual's choice, but not going to impact all of civilization. Find a better metaphor.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • lemon

      They know noone can rescue them, idiot.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • gin

      Who is this "noone" guy who goes around rescuing hapless climbers?

      May 23, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I believe that no one cares about "the cost or lives of those who are put in danger trying to rescue them" no matter the situation. If they are in a plane, train or automobile wreck and the fire is at their feet they don't care what the cost is in rescuing them, or if a firefighter is injured trying to save them. They will care later when presented with the bill or at the memorial service, but at the time of crisis, they just want to live. The difference is that months before the Everest climb they signed a waiver saying that they could die and if they did no one was going to rescue them or drag their body down... and they agreed to it. They knew the risk and accepted it... in writing. So there is no cost or lives put in danger rescuing these folks.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • keltari

      Rescue? There are no rescue teams. No one comes to save you on Everest. Thats why there are so many bodies that sit there for decades.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeanie

      look up Lincoln Hall.
      There ARE rescues on Everest,..just most people never set their minds to it

      May 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mace

      Actually, if you begin to experience major problems on Mount Everest, they will leave you to die. There are no rescue attempts as things go wrong too fast and it takes too long to climb the mountain. Often times, if the climber experiences snow blindness they will be left to die while begging to not be left behind.... there is no rescue...

      May 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Scamtannehill

    Another thing of beauty ruined by to much money and to many people.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. the_dude

    Fact of the matter is a lot of people who attempt this climb have no business being there and are ill-prepared for the physical aspects of it. Its a shame they had turned the place into a graveyard / trash dump. Nature deserves better.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. nsaidi

    Commenters: thanks much for the fascinating discussion! Have any of you ever tried a big climb or other feat? Can you recall any experiences that have shaped your opinions about this story? (And yes, we are checking in from time to time to read posts and such. Not constantly, but when we can. Thanks for your patience.)

    May 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sean

      Yeah, it's called combat.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ProperVillain

    Dying chasing a thrill or in pursuit of a hobby is just stupid. I'm pretty sure the loved one and families the thrill seeking dead left behind feel the same way....

    May 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul

      I don't agree. Spouses and families of race car drivers, soldiers, or even law enforcement officers know the risk. Ask them if they would rather that person sit at home and be disgruntled and NOT chase their dream or have them die doing it and I'm sure they would all say they would accept the risk of death.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mace

      Yep, much better to die of a heart attack or getting smashed into by a drunk driver... I don't understand all these people saying what a horrible way to die... death, by itself, is horrible. Grow up, let people die how they want. Would you want to go out and live your life differently because someone else told you you had to? I highly doubt it. Typically people don't jump up and down anticipating death, however it happens, everywhere, not just on Everest.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. challenge can be found here

    At a time when volunteer fire departments and ambulance squads are dwindling in size and as a result it's driving everyone's taxes up. we have people jetting off to all corners of the world to face a challenge that at the end of the day gives them a nice memory, a few photos and not much else.

    how about spending a few years of your life accepting the challenge of helping others? The memory you get when you save a life or even just rescue the wedding photos from a burning home is infinitely better. Trust me.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • edvhou812

      Amen.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • mgc6288

      Called free will. Let them do what they want with their stash, and reap the consequences of their actions.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • whineyface

      Sounds like you both do what you do for personal satisfaction.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. edvhou812

    I'm not a climber, but if I was I would not take the climb. Sounds less like a climb and more like that gamle of a lifetime. The only problem is that you lose a lot more than money if the gamble doesn't work out.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • dwech

      You have defined well the reason you are not a climber. Stay home.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    We each have a *Mount Everest* that we climb with in our own souls each and every day.
    Those that do so with out a thought to caving in when life's issues become unbearable are the stories I find victorious. :)
    Let us give a *cheer* to those people on a regular bases, whether it be people you know or an incident that you see one day out of your life.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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