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. marion

    I think it is ironic that the non Sherpa climbers end up leaving this beloved mountain full of trash and dead bodies. Fits in with our throw away society.

    May 23, 2012 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. ThinAir

    How many people have you conversed with that can say "ya sure I climbed Everest"? Not many I can promise you. To accomplish such a feat is a great accomplishment. Many have completed the climb without the use of supplemental oxygen to assist them. You should look in our own back yard, we lose people every year on mountains like Rainer, Hood, Denali, etc.

    And Yes I would agree that is was a noble way to go.

    May 23, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      Great accomplishment? Noble way to go? Haha! They're idiots that have a death wish, I have no respect for anyone that is dumb enough to climb a mountain anywhere. I just feel real sorry for their families having to deal with it, especially when they die.

      May 23, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. Zelda

    I summited Everest in 2007, the year after the David Sharp incident. I climbed with Alpine Ascents from the south side of Everest. Going through the "rainbow valley" of bodies was a clear reminder on the task ahead of me: THE TOP IS ONLY HALF WAY. Climbers must remember that getting to the top is optional, but climbing down is mandatory, especially on peaks such as Everest. HAPE and HACE can play a huge role in decision making, especially when climbers get summit fever. I understand spending a large sum of money to reach the top of the world is a reason, but base camp managers remind everyone, as well as the sherpas, you must return safely. Everest was a dream of mine since I was 10 years old. I finally reached the summit at the age of 32. To stand on top of the world, to achieve your DREAM, I cannot put into words. The beauty and fierceness of the mountain is so raw and tests your strength and you really see what you are made of.

    May 23, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      do you want a cookie?

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

      Sorry, though you are blowing your own horn and really trying to impress which is funny, I am NOT impressed at all. You are lucky you are not dead, though doing something as stupid as mountain climbing you would deserve to be, I think it is pathetic that you think what you did was important and impressive when it is NOT, it was stupid and I actually have no respect for you whatsoever.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • kelly james

      Life is not just about you. People love you..... your folks, your kids, etc.. Your chances of dying a slow painful death for the sake of finding out what you are made of is way to high .Who is left to be ever tormented by the vision of how you must have suffered when you are gone....the people who loved you. I would love humanity to be able to speak to the corpses on that mountain and ask them now...was it worth it? Jan may be a little harsh with the name calling, but there is something to be said about the ripple effect. it will have on loved ones. Furthermore, I question the true reasons someone would willingly put themselves in such a position that when you do get into trouble, there is no one who can help....you just die. It is not space exploration. It is not for mankind or some noble cause. It is a facetime thing and I agree Everest should be outlawed along with any other summit that climbers refer to as a morgue. I am willing to bet every last corpse up there would choose life over Everest knowing what they know now. Someone needs to protect these climbers from themselves. Spend there money on therapy and try to find out what drives you to be so self centered and put yourself in a position where you have a good chance of dying and destroying other lives right along with your own all in the name of adventure..

      May 23, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Congratulations, Zelda! You Go! The negative people here are not worth the time of day because they just don't get it. TBone & Jan sound like very bitter, unhappy people whose best form of exercise is probably at the keyboard. And Kelly, most climbing families would rather say their loved one died climbing Everest than saying he died 40lbs overweight and in front of the TV. Alot of people spend so much time fearing death that they might as well be dead anyway. Other people are actually living life. I choose the latter.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • HikingExpert

      Give yourself a good pat on the back.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • mingming

      Zelda, congrats to you and your achievement. it truly is amazing to accomplish a lifelong goal. don't worry about naysayers and haters. we cannot tie ourselves down worried about the fate of others. one can get killed crossing a street. We have the right to live our passions and our dreams. Climbers know the fate they may encounter unless one is very naieve or stupid, the risk of death is there. again congrats.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jan

    I obviously meant: due to YOUR stupidity, NOT "do" to YOUR stupidity. Typing too fast...

    May 23, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. NSPanther99

    Um... going to dangerous places and putting your life at risk is a thrill to some folks. Stupid folks. Climbing a mountain is no different than taping a thosand dollar bill to your butt and forehead and sign that sez kill me for teh money and then trying to make it through a Sao Palo slum alive. And the latter is a lot cheaper. There is no difference.

    May 23, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. t-bone

    I say let them die.
    The world is overpopulated as it is.
    Let the stupid ones go before they can pollute the gene pool.

    May 23, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Darth Cheney

    Look at this way, every death is one less carbon footprint in the world. And they die doing what they love besides.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. MightyMoo

    "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."

    So very true.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bleh64

    What an utterly ignorant statement. If everyone shared you reduced grey matter way of thinking, countries would never have been explored, many inventions that make life easier and last longer would not have been created, etc., etc. Human by nature are adventerous, it's what separates us from the primates, well, not you with your narrow minded thinking.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ned

    It worth building the lift and restaurant on top so all this could end......

    May 23, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. josh

    so what is your take on space exploration?

    May 23, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dan C

    Wow Jan – That's harsh. Using your logic I should never leave my house for fear of being hit by a car, struck by lightning, fall victim to a random drive-by and any number of things that can befall any of us at any time. Anybody climbing Everest is taking a risk, but your post makes it sound like you think anybody taking a casual stroll up a low hill in thier neighborhood should be jailed. Do you ever leave your house?

    May 23, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. flip

    My ambition: climb a low hill, beat up a small man.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. nokoolaidcowboy

    I have often thought that something should be done to clean up Everest. More and more I see photos of trash, as for the corpses...if they sign waivers asking to be left up there if they do not make it, that is fine. Because putting others at risk to pick up corpses is a whole another matter.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  15. Dave

    Haters gonna hate...

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