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.

[tweet https://twitter.com/#!/sandraclimbing/status/204867301152014336%5D

Michael Harley also made an observation that many are considering, perhaps for the first time.

[tweet https://twitter.com/#!/obsolete29/status/204993129554788352%5D

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.

[tweet https://twitter.com/#!/BearGrylls/status/204966551584116736%5D

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. talkic social network

    sad...but at least they lived the lives they wanted to.

    May 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Humanity...it's like waiting in line for the newest Ipod.

      May 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • just sayin

      Sad????? they are responsible for their own death. Get a clue.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • boom

      u mean living to climb this mountain to die because of the traffic jam of people causing u to die from oxygen exhaustion?

      May 23, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
    • sam sam

      What? They died for nothing. If climbing Mt. Everest was the only one thing that they loved and they died for it then that's pretty sad isn't it? there are bigger mountains in life. Mt. Everest is climbing is just a pride, and too much of it will kill you. Try to climb higher than that, love people not adventures. And for crying out loud, that's what you get when you mess with mother nature.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Religion

      Yes, because they wanted to live by dying slowly on a mountain.

      May 23, 2012 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. Edmun Hillary

    No guts, no glory. An Everest ascent is not for the weak or feint hearted. Better to leave your corpse on top trying than to have relatives squabbling over your estate as you decompose on some sofa in Illinois.

    May 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • diego homans

      "Better to leave your corpse on top trying than to have relatives squabbling over your estate as you decompose on some sofa in Illinois..." 25 YEARS LATER.

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

    I am totally in awe and humbled by the effort of this 73 year old Japanese woman who made it to the summit and back!

    May 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jon M

    anyone who attempts to climb everest knows the risk they are taking. if it was easy, anyone could do it. maybe it's selfish to the folks back home that care about them, however you only live once and you have to do what makes you happy. if you sometimes need to 'touch the void' to feel alive, then go for it. yes, i plan on attempting everest one day.

    May 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • jk

      It is relatively easy and virtually anyone can do it, which is the problem. Armchair litterbugs go up there and die for fake glory and fake accomplishment. Hitchhiking across the U.S. or Australia would be more of a challenge, and a lot less damaging to nature and fellow humans. Find a truly meaningful goal in life.

      May 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Superman

    Id rather die in a mountain then die in a hospital or in a car accident at least on a mountain there is a reason

    May 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Missing Link

      That is completely ridiculous. You must have no friends and no family. Rather die on a mountain? Enjoy your cold, empty death with no one around to care for you or be with you until the end.

      May 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Captain Obvious

    Everest is a tourist destination. It's no longer even on the checklist of most serious climbers.

    May 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • John in WNY

      What amuses me is how one group climbing often involved a totally different group who without fanfair climb the mount and set up supply dumps, ropes and other items the climbing group will need.

      Is it still dangerous? Sure it is, but it's become as much a guided tour then a true climb.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. steve

    I always love the living saying that "at least he died doing what he loved." It makes it sound like the person is happy to be dead. The question now is, "If a God were to say, 'I'll give you a do-over if you promise never to do this again,' I wonder if the dead guy would prefer to stay dead?"

    May 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • John in WNY

      So true, or even give them the choice "You can die now doing what you love or die in 25 years doing something you might not love?"

      May 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Missing Link

    Human bodies are not meant to be on Everest. Nothing is meant to be on Everest other than snow, ice and horrible weather. I get the mountain climbing thing. I've reached the summit of Hood and Rainier. And those were not easy tasks either but Everest is a bit out of reach for nearly all human beings.

    May 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. George Spalding

    REALISTIC training regimen before attempting Mt Everest (if you have better than average fitness) should be a minimum of 5 years. That would include 6 days a week of a combination of gym workouts and mountain hiking with weighted backpacks. During that period there would be at least 3 major climbs a year to mountains of increasing heights and maybe living the last six months at a high elevation. If you are not prepared to do this then you will either die or risk the lives of other hikers who will try to save your ass. For those that think money will buy the mountain, think again.

    May 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Missing Link

      Well said George. FInally a post that is realistic and makes sense.

      May 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • WS

      Money buys Everest every year. Everest is NOT a technical climb, and with sherpas doing all the heavy lifting, fixed ladders and ropes on the Khumbu icefall and Hilary Step, etc., anyone in good physical condition can literally walk up that mountain.

      May 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anna

    Hey Superman , What is the reason for you to die on a mountain . Just curious.

    May 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Reality Check

    The bodies provide a emergency source food to those who might get stranded.

    May 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. thicnredscorpio on bp

    I loved mounting thicnredscorpio's big beuautiful mountains! Ans she knew how to climb my thick8 mountain too!

    May 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Speed

    Life and all the people you love in it should be way to valuable to give it all up to a mountain.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Fiona

    It takes a huge ego to make the Everest trek. Why else would anyone bother, since so many average climbers have done it before them? It is a selfish pursuit, a box to tick off. I am not impressed by those who have told me they summiteers. I'm impressed by the work the sherpas do, but not by the tourists they shepherd up and down the mountainside.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    Anything and everything can become a morgue if one is not prepared for it.
    All of life is a journey.
    I intend to enjoy it.

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