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. Jimmy the Mick

    I know, that it is common for mankind to explore things that we were not ment to, but to spend extreme $ to go to the top of a mountain? I am a "Severe Storm Chaser", by profession and have been through some extreme's, that would
    make your hair "White " when it was all over. I have been "Picked Up" from the ground at 150 m.p.h. + in my research
    only to find, that "Mother Nature " will take you when she want's. We only use the best equipment, logic & pattern's
    available at this moment in time to help mankind ability to survive ! Climbing a Mountain, that will take your life 75 %
    of the time, while it doe's NOTHING except "Inflate" your ego, is of no worth to mankind, is really stupid, to say the least ! At least what we do HELP'S mankind, in understanding, providing useful info, and helping other's in there
    living through a " Real Extreme" situation, if were to attack them in such a short period !
    "Playing in the Snow", is only a display if too much money and not enough sense !

    May 22, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      I get it Jimmy, you're cool. Look, most people reading this story have done something that would make others "hair turn white". For some it's extreme skiing, for some it's free diving, I've known soldiers that are borderline addicted to gunfights, you like storms. Good for you.

      Belittling somebody's love of mountain climbing is like somebody saying you follow rain showers. Just because it's not for you doesn't mean others don't get a thrill from it.

      May 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Smart Human

    No one ever congratulates you for turning back. Though, they should. I am living proof.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Smart Human – I wish this had a "like" button

      May 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Curlybit

    No, I would not climb Mount Everest. I don't like the cold. I don't feel like I have anything to prove. The chances of dying are way to high. For those that climb it, they know the risks. It is their decision and have a right to climb it if they wish.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bob

    This is like the article recently about diving to extreme depths in the ocean. What are these people thinking? This type of thrill seeking is really something close to insanity. Gee, let me risk my life, so I can say I did this?

    May 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tanic

    Wow, people. Just wow. You all make me absolutely sick. I am proud of each and every person who died on that mountain, because they had a hope, for some of them, it was even a DREAM, and they were perfectly willing to give their lives for it. The fact of the matter is, it ISN'T easy. If it was a cake walk, people wouldn't be DYING up there. But these people were able to see past the risk. They were able to see what they wanted and go for it. Yes, life is a precious thing. But it's not worth living if you have nothing to live it for. I'm sure these families understand that. Any family who would rip a person's dreams from them and force them to die they life THEY wnted them to is no true family at all and THEY are the selfish ones. No matter what the goal, whether it be becomming a famous actor or climb the world's tallest mountain, one should always follow the goal they choose. THAT is humanity. And you all suggest that they just throw their dreams away because DREAMING IS SELFISH?! I am absolutely apalled.

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

      Okay, okay. Knock yourselves out.

      May 22, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • RockyMtnHi

      Tanic, while we don't know yet who these people who died were, don't you think you're injecting a little too much sappiness into this, saying that the posters here are knocking peoples' dreams and are the selfish ones? My father was a mountain climber, though never attempted Everest. But he spent an inordinate amount of time and money with his passion to the neglect and detriment of our family. So what if he died doing what he loved? What would have happened to us? Tell me, who is the selfish one?

      May 22, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus

      I bet that's very comforting to all those children whose daddy is now a trail marker for other idiots on this planet who just HAVE to climb Mt. Everest!

      May 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Walt

    I have been to Everest base camp and Kala Pattar but I would not try to climb Everest. I want to keep all my fingers, toes and my life.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Texan

    If you want to confront death, be prepared to die. Otherwise, don't fly to the base camp, hire some sherpas, and tweet about your adventure.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jude

    some have to check off that bucket list...no matter the cost. and the bucket list can have many extremes as the list gets shorter. i know someone who has so much money they have bought everything possible and now they want to buy president. just for kicks. extreme and dangerous? who cares...you only live and die once.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Where Eagles Dare

    Even if I could afford it, I don't think I'd attempt the climb up Everest. Just not worth the risk to me. That said, I don't understand some of the very hateful, ugly comments on here targeting those who choose to make the climb. People who have vision, determination and are willing to take serious risks often pave the way for the rest of us. The human spirit, the willingness to try the impossible, that is what makes man great. I admire and respect those who go where most of us never will. RIP to those who didnt come back.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jackblob

    There are stories of climbers falling ill during the climb and being abandoned by those who consider their chance to reach the summit more important than a life. There are also stories, however fewer, of climbers who abandoned the climb to help another climber. Yes, there are cases where a climber cannot be helped or that it puts other climbers lives at risk if they try to help. But without a doubt, there have been several instances where help could have been provided and it wasn't for the sake of reaching the summit.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gumby

    In a few more years, Mt. Everest is going to be nothing but garbage and corpses. A sick monument to our obsessions.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • s kel

      exactually....selfish and stupid motives of the rich in climbing this beautiful mt.

      May 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • durrrrrr

      I guess, but who cares? People can complain about the dead bodies, but those complaining aren't going up there to see it... Trust me, it still looks beautiful from afar, corpses and all.

      May 22, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Hadenuffyet

    Riding in a commercial jet at 35,000 ft. ....much more comfortable and I dare say substantially safer. The view is basically the same if not better...lol

    May 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Hadenuffyet

    or ...a zip line , now that would be a real rush...woooooohooooo............

    May 22, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rocket

    I have been over there you know before you go dying on the mountian is a possibilty. And we do it anyway. I climb I also drag race. As a drag racer you know when you get in the car there is a possibility of being killed in the car, If climbing isn't for you then fine but dont judge us that do it and accept the risks for doing

    When you have a passion for something you do it plain and simple. Everest is not the only mountian people die on, Every mountian in the area over there has had a death on it. You only hear about everest because its the tallest.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dick

    Funny, people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and pay for their own death. It is and has always been a playground for the rich who have nothing else to live for. Please, by all means, continue to add your worthless lives to clutter up one of earth's most treasured places.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sherry

      Good point, wealthy people are always looking for pointless pursuits to give meaning to what they consider a dull and boring life. I pity them, instead of taking time to help their fellow man they have them pack up their equipment, serve their food and then die for them if needed.

      May 22, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
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