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.

[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. Brian

    So Jan, ANYONE that goes outside and climbs a mountain is an idiot huh, I supposed that YOUR idea of adventure is changing nail salons.

    Your statement is the most idiotic i have ever heard, and sounds like someone that has never (and I mean NEVER) tried ANYTHING remotely adventurous.
    Mountain climbers are NOT idiots, nor are the stupid or have a death wish (if that was the case, id be long dead). Do climbers die trying to acheive their goal? yes they do, and I will not argue about it, death happens. Unless YOU have ever pushed the limit of your ability just ONCE, you might be able to understand WHY people climb.

    lastly "Jan", please do everyone a favor and just stay on your couch.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. What are you talking about?

    "Anyone stupid enough to be climbing a mountain anywhere. deserves to die"

    Really? This is such a short sighted statement. People live on mountians, should they die too? Millions of people drive over mountains every day, should they also die? According to your comments no one should set out to accomplish anything that is remotely dangerous. Lots of people die running marathons, are they stupid too? What about those that die playing sports or making movies for our entertainment? The point is that all of these people (mountain climbers, runners etc.) understand there is a chance you could die doing what they choose to do. To call them stupid or ignorant simply becuase they choose to do it is not only annoying but unfounded and a slap in the face to those they left behind.

    “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
    ― J.K. Rowling

    May 23, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. jpbrooklyn

    This is such a ridiculous comment: "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." Yeah, I'm sure thousands die in this manner every Friday. It's an epidemic!

    May 23, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. asche

    you're probably the type that likes to sit around at home and brood over how your CDs are growing at .021% interest rates while complaining about how the neighbors park their cars and other fun restrained bitter activities : )

    May 23, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. Kathleen

    You must lead a nice, safe life Jan. How nice for you. Live long and prosper. Just stop judging others for following their adventurous spirit. Without the risk takers, we would not have the technologies that make your life nice and safe.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Luke Daniels

    Some choose a life without limits. It's not okay for them to experience the wonders of this earth, but it's okay for you to hurl insults their way. No wonder you don't climb mountains, your throne is already so high.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. Canopy

    I would love to climb mount everest just to be able to see what its like on the top.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. sam sam

    Thank you! Exactly my thought.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dale

    It's time to severely limit the activity on Everest to only those who are well equipped and well qualified for such a climb. Nations around the world limit access to controlled substances that cost human lives. The percentage of people who attempt Everest and die, is far higher than the death toll caused by drugs, alcohol, etc. I feel for the families of those who lie dead on that magnificent mountain, but the climbers knew the risks when the headed out. Now the slope is littered with human bodies. It's time to protect people from themselves.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kyne

    Sorry, but I agree. It's pointless tourism. If it were scientists who climb the mountains for research and experiments, I might agree with the exploration in the name of advancing mankind argument, but most, if not all, do it for personal, selfish reasons. I don't think resources should be poured into supporting and/or rescuing them. Exploring your personal physical and mental limits is your own business, you do it on your own, at your own risk.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • shutyaface

      So everything we do in life should be selfless?

      May 23, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. SGT Adams

    LOL, hey I have a good idea! Let's climb a mountain, leave some people behind to die, just so we can say we climbed it! Not to mention, the Sherpa's have been climbing the very same mountain since it was a foothill . . . people are stupid. But hey, if you want to Darwin yourself on top of a mountain to be left there forever . . . feel free. In 1000 years Aliens are going to find the bodies up there and say "They took their sacrifices to the top of the mountain to leave them for the Gods. The bodies are still there, must not be any Gods. No wonder they are here no more." lol

    May 23, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      would that be illegal aliens? lol

      May 23, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      I don't think you understand the complexity of bringing down an incapacitated or dead person down a mountain like Everest. If you'd like a similar experience, try to carry a friend from your roof, onto a steel ladder (which may or may not support both of you), and down to the ground. Now tell me, if someone is nearly dead, how valuable is your life? Because your chances are less than 50/50 if you decide to help them.

      May 23, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Michael

    While my sentiment is somewhat similar to your, I'd have expressed it more like a decent human being.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Breck

    Oh sorry and for you grammar Nazis.... "ambition"

    May 23, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. digitalclips

    If most die on the way down perhaps they need to build a cable car for the descent. It sounds like they could charge a nice large fee with that many going and make money! Seriously perhaps hang gliding down would be safer.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. Craig

    It's natural Cryonics!!

    May 23, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
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