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. Tim

    The situation is sad, but nothing new. People die on Everest each season. To say they died doing what they loved may be true, but tell that to the family they left behind. I'm sure that's super comforting. I agree with someone who said "climb K2 and then I'll be impressed". Mt. Everest may be the tallest peak, but it's no where near the hardest climb. I will give it to the Poles who climbed it in the Winter season though. They had balls.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mike H

    Why don't they just build a giant chairlift to the top so these idiots can go up there safely, take a few pictures and say "I was there". If so many people are attempting the climb that it creates traffic hazards, obviously it's not a challenge for elite professional climbers, and amateurs are just making fools of themselves, damaging their brains and risking death. For what ?

    May 22, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      They should go to medical school instead, where the long hours cause brain damage and exposure to disease causes risk of life. And at least the morgue is better run.

      May 22, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Todd Eckstein

    I'm quite content taking a 5 mile walk up and down a beautiful beach in the hot sun. Sure, there could be a tsunami, but I feel pretty safe. Would never consider going the Mt. Everest. I don't even like skiing. I hate the cold!

    May 22, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Rudy

    A waste of human energy that could be used to help our fellow men. Their death helps clear the earth of hedonistic parasites.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • chefitup

      This comment is incredibly rude. These people have goals they wanted to accomplish, and died trying. Now, jerks on motorcycles doing dangerous things on the roads and risking other peoples lives... Those are hedonistic parasites trying to get an adrenaline rush. These people climbing m Everest are not the same.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
    • chefitup

      This is an incredibly cruel response. People who ride motorcycles like idiots on the road and put other peoples lives at risk are hedonistic parasites, but these people were trying to accomplish a goal and died trying. It's not the same.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
    • billy gee

      Rudy, please enlighten us to the sacrifices you are making, or are you just throwing stones from your thin-walled glass house?

      May 23, 2012 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jo Jo

    Dumbest thing ever in my opinion. I for one would never do risk my life for the sake of a thrill... especially if I had a family. I remember seeing the Imax movie where the guy called his wife on a satille phone from the mountain right before he died. I wished he had lived, but it did seem self inflicted. I'd personally get no thrill from playing russian roulette.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. alkhuu

    Although I understand the lure of climbing such a mountain, I think it is a travesty that humans have spoiled this pristine environment to such an extent that the place is littered with 200 bodies and who knows how many tons of trash. These climbers do not seem to be the type of people who appreciate nature and its beauty. Rather, they are there to fulfill their own self-interested goal of climbing the world's highest mountain. If people were to trash any of America's national parks to such an extent, there would be an uproar, yet magnificent Mt. Everest is allowed to be littered so.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • anpel

      Yeah, it is a shame that sometimes now it is just an exploit rather than real exploration and that the mountain is trashed in the process. I think they do need to start limiting access to the mountain, both in terms of numbers and also only to very experienced climbers. Otherwise it makes things just too risky for everyone.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • lollypop

      I aree completely– understand why they want to be there, but there should be cost requirements that require clean-up cost deposits, including their corpses before they are allowed to climb–that would cut down on the traffic!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. caroline

    It's not sad, it's not tragic, it's stupid. Obama should try this. Better them than me!

    May 23, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • CK1

      What on earth does President Obama have anything to do with this?

      May 23, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. Marc

    I was always taught when I went out into the wilderness to bring out what you take in. I think if you can't do that one simple task, you shouldn't be on that mountain to begin with. If it was that spiritual experience a lot of the people that do the climb talk about, they'd want to keep it pristine and even clean up after themselves.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • jeff

      "when I went out into the wilderness to bring out what you take in. I think if you can't do that one simple task, you shouldn't be on that mountain to begin with"

      Don't be so ignorant. If they can't retrieve a body, do you seriously think they'll go to the trouble to retrieve trash? God, of all the dumb things to say.

      There is a definite problem on that mountain, and it's totally out of control. As long as it remains within the borders of third world countries it will remain so. Traffic jams along what is essentially a hiking route now, which in and of itself puts lives and limbs in danger, is insane. Incompetent climbers and way too many of them. It has become a pathetic spectacle of humans not playing well together.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. Moe

    You must be crazy. Climb Mount Everest? I rather play in the Hunger Games!

    May 23, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. John Tucker

    Dead or dying people no one can take the time to deal with.

    I woudnt trst anyone that did that. Everest is a curse.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Bill

    I can fully understand the desire to make the climb. I also understand that there are risks, but there are risks throughout life. Are they worth taking? That would seem to be up to the individual. One can climb Everest and succeed, and feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment, perhaps a lifetime goal. You can aslo die trying, but the same is true about crossing Main St at rush hour. There's a chance you won't make it, only on Main St the sense of accomplishment is also much lower. As to the bodies that are left on the mountain, it seems ghastly, but one must consider that the cost in lives to retrieve them will just compound the problem. Those who climb no the risks, and take them willingly. Just like the driver who straps into a race car knows there is a risk they won't make it to the end, those thoughts are pushed back by the hope of success. As to the litter – that's just disrespect for the planet, and the climber that follows you.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Did you really just compare crossing a busy street to climbing Mt. Everest?

      May 23, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. xx4zu1

    The worst part of this is climber will go past a fallen human just so they can say I climbed Everest. I'd rather claim I saved the life of a fellow human than I walked past dead and dying but hey that's just me.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jonny b Good

    No one there died doing what they love. I am assuming, of course, that none of those people loved freezing, pain, and crushing defeat smashing upom them in a single overwhelming feeling. The recycled sentiment being used by many to justify the loss of those people for comfort to those still here would be applicable in many situations, but certainly not here.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. BlackDynamite

    When I climb it, I didn't need a sherpa. Just my afro pic and a compass.......
    BD

    May 23, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Rogue351

    These people made the choice to climb. It is not a cheap decision, it use to be 100K would get you to an approach at summit. The rich think it as a big adventure. Well surprise money cant buy everything. But I guess in these cases it bough them a great view for a long time. What do you get when you have alot of people with egos as big as their back account. You get inexperienced climbers with all the best gear, a trash heap at base camp and a mountain littered bodies. But travel permits will keep getting issued because some one is getting paid. Does not matter how rich you are, it is not a disney ride. You can still die up there no matter how much you pay. BTW- the ego usually disappears at the khumbu ice fall, but because of money they go on. Proof positive rich people don't always make the best choices.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
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