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. Jokesterer

    The whole planet is a morgue.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. annieLD

    There is only one good reason to risk your life, to save another person's life. Everything else is just ego. What good does it do humanity? Does it make you a better person, ie, one who comes down from the mountain top and makes peace with his neighbors, feeds the hungry, visits the lonely,. The valleys are where the people live.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Drew

      When asked why he climbed, Ed Viesturs offered the best answer I've ever head: "If you have to ask, you'll never know."

      Tell Taylor Swift who just donated $4 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame to go help impoverished people. That does a lot more good than the 15-40 thousand most people spend on this climb.

      May 23, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • PKSwimmer

      I disagree with this. It's not about ego. – it's about experience. Sure, this is a fairly extreme form of experience, but it isn't anything different than someone deciding they want to go to Egypt to see the Pyramids. Is that "ego"? – or just a desire to do/see something in this world?

      May 23, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mike cook

    Why so jerky?
    You don't know any of those people I bet, why the venom?

    May 23, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mike cook

    And who needs your respect anyway?

    May 23, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike cook

      This was a respinse for user Jan

      May 23, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Scott M

    Climbing Mt. Everest is the absolute pinnacle - of self-indulgence.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. littleblackcar

    These people aren't "pushing the boundaries of human discovery". We know what's on Everest. Snow. And, apparently, corpses. This is an endeavor of egotism and thrill-seeking. They're not heroes, they're just selfish people with too much money to spend who have burned through all the usual methods of pumping adrenaline.

    This is voluntary. I think they have every right to try it, but they also have every right to get left up there if they don't make it. That's the risk they accepted (or should have accepted) when they decided to try it. If you participate in an activity in which you might very easily die in an environment that makes it almost impossible to retrieve your body, you have given up the right to a normal burial.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. J. Johnson

    Am I understanding this right, that people leave their climbing buddies behind, to die, and continue to ascend, simply because they want to accomplish some arbitrary personal life goal? Wow! That is one of the sickest, more selfish things I think I've ever heard.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • J. Johnson

      Make that "thing," not "think." I wasn't thinking.

      May 23, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. Reader

    What don't people understand about this mountain? It's over 29,000ft high, near and at the top there is only 1/3 of the oxygen you normally breathe, there's no safe way to bring the bodies down. None. Everything feels 10x heavier, imagine trying to bring down a body.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. noone

    I bet there is a lot of poop up there somewhere....

    May 23, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • rtbrno65

      Everywhere, all over the place.

      May 23, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • MargieM

      There are actually reports of many piles of human waste all about, as it freezes rather than decomposes. Sounds like a nasty place to go ! Every group of climbers leaves more trash, oxygen canisters & excrement to add to the existing trash heaps!

      May 23, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. WaitWhat?

    News Flash – Mount Everest is slowly getting higher... due to trash and human bodies. At some point the problem will get so bad it will have to be dealt with. Its also interesting to see referals to the dying as bodies? Dead and Dying Bodies??? I thought I was a person until I was fully dead... no?

    May 23, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  11. Pete

    If any of them were Real Climbers.... they would be attempting Kanchungjunga...

    May 23, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. WaitWhat?

    We have stations in the Arctic and AntiArtic and the space station. Since this is something humans clearly want to do, then perhaps the companies charging $40-$60K to climb the mountain should sponsor a First Aid station near the top?
    It sounds impossible, but I bet it could be done. Lots of arguments for and against that I am sure.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. paul

    seems like you could just give those bodies a good kick, and they would bring themselves down

    May 23, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. vatoloke

    But, why?

    May 23, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff

    Everest has become a tourist attraction. Every year people who have no business on the mountain are carted up by companies with no conscience. And every year someone dies due to the incompetence of these corporate climbers. I has ceased to be the adventure and accomplishment it once was. That's plain said

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