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

    OKAY,OKAY....I get it ! ... Im just trying point out the difference in "Helping Humanity" , VS doing, OR performing a
    Feat, for just fame . I TRY MY GOD-***est to help my fellow human's from the loss of life, rather than "BRAG" about
    how i "Damn" near did it, but did not ! Many are in the cemetary's that " Tried BUT failed, but myself, i would rather be remembered for "Those" that i tried to help & save, VS, those who tried,failed, and did nothing to help others.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Simmer Down Now

      You have done nothing but "boast" and "brag" about how much more "noble" your profession is; you have "dismissed" the people who climb "Everest" as somehow "less" than you because it isn't "something" YOU would "do". Big "whoop". You're a "pretencious" "blowhard" who hasn't got a "clue" as to the "proper" way to use "quotation marks" and you're just as "big" of an "adrenaline" "junkie" as anyone else, so climb down your high horse, and oh yeah...don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. Bitter because you haven't been on the Weather Channel yet?

      May 22, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Bodies scattered on the mountain – a monument to stupidity

    May 22, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DellStator

    Always a traffic jam. This is a permitted climb. You'd have to wonder why the authorities on each side don't limit the no. of permits to what "trafffic" will bear? Nepal could claim poverty, but it really isn't that much money on the Chinese side, I mean, China has a HUGE economy. Wanna bet on both sides its the amount of bribes that have to be paid locally to get anything done, etc.. I think I read a bit about foreigners having to go to extremes to get their wastes off the mountain on the Nepal side, yet, the officials not beating up on locals the same. Not that anyone with the money to waste on this shouldn't have to clean up, plant a thousand trees, and anything else the locals can think of. Actually, I think the folks along the hike in to Everest and other trekking trails have the better standard of living in the land, due to trekkers and climbers donating money, equipment, etc to local schools, hospitals, etc..

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

      people should be allowed to practice stupidity if they so choose. I am not interested in hearing about the stories of heroic rescues during meaningless, reckless climbs. I see lives being saved by heroes every day in my hospital.

      May 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Danny

    To the person who suggests spending money and human resources to clean up the slopes of Everest: are you that narcissistic? If people want to flaunt mortality in the face of a high percentage of death, go ahead. Just don't expect others to literally clean up the mess.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Skyhawk

    Gumby and Stephen are right. Living on the edge ? who are these clowns with their self inflated ego, to think that once in trouble, 40,50, $60K are enough to get them out. Very often the authorities have to mobilize land, air, sea assets ( in the case of those lost in tryimg to cross oceans solo ) for days, weeks in rescue mission. They should be forced to put 500K bond at the minimum.
    Want adventure ? Here is an idea: apply to the French Foreign Legion. Marines are sissi in comparison.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Syd

    I do feel bad for the climbers' families and I hope they can get some closure somehow. But let's face it. Doing this is like jumping out of airplanes for fun: you're kinda asking for it.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fluidfilm

    It's easy to dismiss adventurers as wasteful, rich, thrill seekers, but the truth is they are doing what many people don't dare to do. (No, not climb a freezing cold mountain so high you need to bring oxygen.) What I'm talking about is pursuing a dream: taking on a meaningful challenge while armchair naysayers poke and criticize their efforts. Everyone who has attempted something great has sacrificed, risked, and fought the status quo, whether flying solo across the Atlantic (Lindbergh did 85 years ago today) or standing up to apartheid and being thrown in prison for 27 years like Nelson Mandela, emerging as the president and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Daring to attempt something and overcoming impossible odds is the greatest of humanity's accomplishments. People who do this are who we celebrate in movies and novels, and with accolades and stories. Don't be so quick to tear down people who dare to do great things.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      "It's easy to dismiss adventurers as wasteful, rich, thrill seekers, but the truth is they are doing what many people don't dare to do. Everyone who has attempted something great has sacrificed,"

      The problem is this is no longer something great. Thousands of people have done it, even those who don't know how to climb mountains. It's a cliche "adventure" that has little to do with real mountaineering or rock climbing. Yes it's still a difficult hike in a low oxygen, cold environment. But this is not Mallory or Hillary, believe me. Everest has become a caricature of itself. Climbing it is, essentially, trendy. If you want to sacrifice, then go climb a real mountain and do what it takes to learn those skills and prepare yourself. Don't just buy it. If you have the money and want an athletic vacation where you get a great view, then that's fine, but even then they are letting WAY too many people on this mountain given the tiny window of a week or so out of the year the general public can feasibly make it to the top.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  8. Russ

    I don't feel sorry for those who died. They knew what they were getting into when they went there. A big part of the reason they do it is because they could die. If they survive, then they feel it is a huge accomplishment. For every X number who attempt, Y will die. That is the way it is. The only thing I don't like is all the trash and bodies still up there. Sherpas are paid to go up and bring it down, but there is evidently too much for them to retrieve. Maybe the government should shut it down for ten years and bring the bodies and trash back before they open it up again. Then, when they do, there should be strict rules about bringing back the garbage.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alex

    Why exactly is Everest a "treasured place?" It would be just another mountain, of many thousands we don't care about, if it weren't for the human pride that makes us want to climb the biggest thing around. So it is somewhat confusing to say that foolish, selfish rich people are cluttering a monument when it wouldn't be a monument at all if those foolish people didn't want to climb it.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Glenda

    I think it may be the time to call and end to climbing Mt. Everest. It doesn't make since to leave all those bodies and trash up there. There needs to be a preservation movement.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AndyM

    Why all the hate? People pay THEIR money to climb the mountain. They have to take out special insurance to pay for any medical problems, including helicopters to get them out. They are out doing WHAT they want to do, living THEIR lives. All people do is say how stupid it is. Stupid to you, not too me. I wish I had the money to make the attempt. I would in a heartbeat. I'd rather die up on that mountain, living life, then sitting on my couch playing some wizard video game.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      "Why all the hate? People pay THEIR money to climb the mountain."

      Because incompetent climbers are getting in the way on roped paths that only allow 1 person at a time. Thus, they are literally endangering the lives of those around them. Sections of the mountain must be completed in a certain amount of time to be considered safe, and you must keep moving to avoid frostbite. Imagine being a good driver on a highway full of drunk drivers who have "paid" for their cars and license plates. How would you feel about that? Yes, I'm saying you should in effect be "licensed" and prove your climbing competence to be allowed on that mountain, and even then only a small number per day – perhaps about 10% the number of people that are allowed now.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Suave Guy

    try to win over nature.. its goona take its toll

    May 22, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jazz1910

    I was thinking it was going to be really crowded so I stayed home and went shopping instead. I guess I made the right decision.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. kgt

    This says a lot about the people who attempt Everest. If they were true climbers and outdoor enthusiasts, they would leave no trace. It's never ok to pollute as the "climbers" have been doing for years.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SuccessButSoWhat?

    We as humans need to weigh the cost of being successful at something that doesn't matter.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
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