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. john

    Ridiculous and selfish people who climb the Everest just to satisfy their ego. Walking among corpses and trash. If you like the Everest so much, spend your thousands of dollars to pick up the corpses for a decent burial and take the trash to a dumpster.

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

    Jan – did you write this post from your comfy cubicle chair? Or perhaps lounging on the sofa on your Macbook? 1. Who are you to tell any other human being on the planet what he or she can or cannot do with his or her life? Climbers/Mountaineers should be fined/jailed or the sport made illegal? WHAT?! Do you wish fascism upon the globe, because that's what you advocate. 2. It is clear to me that you don't appreciate the beauty of the mountains climbers ascend. You probably don't appreciate nature or the planet you live on itself. When's the last time you took a hike in the forest? Rock climbers aren't out to please you or anyone else in society. The sport is about personal growth and challenging internal limits, pushing the human body to new limits, breaking barriers. And their families know the risks, and are very much supportive. You may not realize this yet, but you are going to die, one way or the other, we all are. I'd rather look back on my life saying at least I went out, climbed the world, pushed my physical and mental (because climbing is mostly mental in the advanced stages, ask the 73-yr old) limits rather than die hooked up to a ventilator in a hospital bed, obese, hacking up a lung. Climbing may not be your cup o' tea, but do not push your ignorant and ill-informed beliefs on anyone else. The problem with the world is that there aren't enough climbers, not too many.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bert Cascade Mtns.

    I heard it once said that Mt. Everest is where good Mountaineers go to die.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. Howie

    Jan, how does it feel to be the perfect combination of stupid, opinionated and heartless? I could go on and on but you're not worth it. Have a good long life typing on crappy message boards while some of us are enjoying/experiencing life. LOSER!

    May 23, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. ricardo

    Climbing Everest is like gay marriage to me . . . irrelevent. Nevertheless, my best to all engaged in both endeavors. Each is fraught with great risk.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. William Sherpa

    Oh, the price those serotonin-addicted folks are willing to pay for just "one more fix".

    May 23, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. Borealbob

    I attempted "the hill" in 1985. Expedition got wiped out in late season monsoon at the South Col. Stupidest thing I ever did in my life. Anyone who thinks climbing an 8000 meter peak is "fun" is a fool. Its a crap shoot- no matter what condition you are in. Don't do it.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. dejanero

    Taken from the film: Into Thin Air
    If you watch that film, you will see why, guaranteed.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. kathleen

    Given the ages of many of the climbers , I seriously suspect they are doing the ' last big thing' type suicide .
    Possibly some of the others have terminal conditions & this is there exit also ?

    May 23, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. TheDoctor

    I think they should air lift some D8 dozers and cut a road down to the bottom and put a restaurant at the top. so everyone could see how useless the trip was

    May 23, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Carole

      That would be OK if you could fly to the top, but the air is too thin. That is why so many dead people remain up that mountain. It is impossible to take a helicopter and remove them so the bodies remain frozen in time.

      May 23, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • hiboy00

      A helicopter has landed at the top. Look it up

      May 23, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. Carole

    I would never do mountain climbing as a job or hobby but I love reading about it. It captures my interest for some reason. I lived in Alaska for two years and climbed one very small mountain and that was enough for me. I thought every rock above me was the summit until I got to that rock and saw another rock above that..I thought I would never get to the top.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. emintey

    I know this post will not make me popular but climbing Mt. Everest is juat plain stupid. I think that for the next year all those who want to venture it should be required first to clean up the bodies, w/o the help of Sherpa's.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  13. why not

    Exploration is part of humanity. We are naturally curious and want to search new things. Just because people have climbed Everest before you, does not mean that you should not do it, because it has been done. I am not an adventurist, at least not right now, with a family to support and raise. But if things were different, I would climb Everest. Mountain climbing may be dangerous, but there are a lot of other dangerous things in everyday life.... Motorcycles, cars, smoking, scubadiving... the list is endless... Sheesh you could slip and fall in your bathtub getting ready for work and die.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  14. Anne

    It's the highest point on Earth. There really is no point in disputing the fact that people are making their own choices when they go up. They know that people die. The dangers are spelled out. As long as businesses and the Nepal government are willing to make money off of it, it will continue to be something that people do. To say that it is unethical to to pass by a stranded climber is just not realistic. Its not like helping somebody out of a car accident. People are rolling the dice when they go. I understand the draw but would not take the risk myself and risk doing that to my family. As far as the bodies, I feel like it is what it is. They are the people that came to Nepal but did not go home. It feels like that is where they should be. It's death, do we not want so clear a reminder that this is what we would face here?

    May 23, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. Julnor

    I'm more concerned about the trash left behind than the bodies. The people who go there know the risks. A vast majority do this without incident. But trashing the place is just low class. Pack it in, pack it out.

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