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. Not a Scholar

    Natures cryogenics. Some day the dead will rise!! I see a movie coming...

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

    Mauna Kea in Hawaii is the tallest.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      only if measured from the base (which is under water) Everest is substantially taller when measured as height above sea level.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      Wrong.....tallest & highest equal the same thing.....both are a measurement of 'Above Sea Level'.

      Mauna Kea has the most measurable height since it can be measured from it's base which is several thousand feet BELOW the ocean surface. Everest can't be measured as such.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil in Oregon


      May 23, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • ReadsTheNews

      Does this papercut look okay to you?

      May 23, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Mauna Kea (4205 m) is half as tall as Mount Everst (8,848 m).

      May 23, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      ....when measured from its oceanic base. I don't think this comparison is appropriate.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      Al........Muana Kea rises well over 10,200 meters from it's base.....but that base is 6000 meters UNDER the ocean.

      So if you measured both mountains from their BASE, Mauna Kea wins out. BUT.....mountains aren't measured that way.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jason

    I really don't understand how climbers can enjoy their triumph of Everest when they passed up people painfully dying on the slope on the way up. It seems that would take some of the joy out of it.

    I've read far to many stories of people being simply abandoned on the mountain so as not to jeopardize the ascent to the top.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      Most abandonments are on the way down.....not on the way up.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • TonyMontana1

      What I don't understand is why people try to climb this mountain? How stupid can people be? So you made it, now what?

      May 23, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      If I decided to kayak alone from California to Hawaii, I would know that I could very likely die — of starvation, dehydration, exhaustion, heat stroke, capsizing, etc. I would also have no expectation of help. I would make out my will and say goodbye to family, etc. If I died out there, I would have no one to blame but myself and I would be content with that because it was a solo effort. If I was exhausted and dying and another exhausted and dying kayaker happened by me, what does he have to offer me? He needs every last ounce of energy he has to save his own life. But he will have to live with it his whole life if he passed someone and couldn't help him, even if attempting to help him would have resulted in both their deaths. Most of us don't choose high mortality activities, but those who do "knew the risks."

      May 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. asdf

    Met a woman at my wife's medical school who summitted earlier this year – absolutely crazy story...

    She found 2 guys on the way down who had frostbite and were stuck. She radioed down, but they couldn't send a helicopter because of the thin air and high winds – basically they told her to leave the guys to die. But this woman is brilliant – going to Jefferson Hospital's ophthalmology program, literally the hardest residency to get into. She had the camp connect her with a surgeon who guided her through a surgery that she performed with a dull knife near the highest point on earth. She also risked frostbite to her own fingers that would have ended her career before it began and wasted the last 4 years of her life.

    In the end, she saved both of them. She makes people who just climb Everest look like pathetic children.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      That is awesome! Thanks for sharing!

      May 23, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Nadya

      Awesome Story!

      May 23, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Mad Cow

      Your story sounds phony to me. These two climbers were stuck, with frostbite, so this woman stops to cut away the frostbite and now they can make it down? It would seem that they would be in even worse shape after being cut on, and even more unable to fend for themselves.

      May 26, 2012 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. Thor

    Next goal: Climb Mount Everest and experience an orgasm on the peak with the most beautiful woman in the world there.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      ...while high-fiving Michael Jordan

      May 23, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. citizenUSA

    Look, I admire people who have the talent and drive to do what they do. I've done, and do, things that could lead to injury or death. I go white-water rafting all the time over some class 5 and 6 rapids. It's lots of fun but I don't think about trying to navigate some river with far more dangers. As fascinating as it is, I think it's selfish to risk your life just to say you've climbed the world's tallest mountain.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. Rich

    This has become some kind of trendy climb. Reminds me of the crowds of hikers going up the cables on Half-dome in Yosemite. Most of these "climbers" sound like they're on some kind of ego trip. Anyone who tells me that they climbed Everest won't get any more reaction than I would feel if they just told me they spent their vacation in Alaska.– Me: "Cool–did you get any nice pictures?"

    May 23, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      To be fair, it isn't like, "show up and climb it." You have to spend a couple months on it, acclimate slowly so you won't die when you get to 25000ft. It is a challenge, but not a really tough one. However, although many have summited, many still die.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. Richard

    Everest is not a technically difficult climb, there are many others (K2, for example) which are much harder. But, when a storm comes in and wind chills drop to -100F, all bets are off. The more they let well-heeled incompetent laggards hold-up ascents and descents, the more people are going to die.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. tuffyturf

    I'm waiting for 2032 when they are scheduled to complete the pressurized cable car that reaches the top of Everest..we'll get a team up there and clean up all that trash and get those bodies back home.. Nano Technology is here and will change everything..

    May 23, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  10. Marvin

    Mt. Everest is like a bug zapper light. We can't resist the temptation to seek out the light at the top.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff

    To be fair though.. if you willingly enter a place called "The Death Zone" what do you think is gonna happen?

    May 23, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. lindaluttrell

    I will never understand the mountain climber's mentaity. Why do we as humans to have to climb something in order to "conquer" it? It is such a beautiful spot on earth and I would not wish to needlessly die there for such an effort. The photo was depressing to me for another reason: look at all the man-made rubbish left there...

    May 23, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. CarrieM

    There's something that seems wrong about tweeting from the one of the most wild symbolic places on earth.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. UseYourSense

    Sherpas are dying. Hello? Is your sense of self so low you'll, "try to reach the summit at your life's peril." LOSR.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  15. ja

    I got a challenge go clean the sickness, violence, disparities in the ghettos of the world, the tell me about a summit

    May 23, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
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