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. Mark

    Couldn't they just ride the corpsicles down the slope like snowboards?

    May 23, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. rjhampton

    I am just starting mountain climbing. While these stories are sobering, they don't deter me. Most of us have spent a few years "thrill seeking" other aspects of nature. By the time you decide to climb mountains, you already have a profound respect for nature.
    Nature happens. We understand and accept that.
    8 people were just shot over a basketball game they didn't play in. Would you rather die that way?
    As far as rescue costs, they are far less than what is paid to ER rooms across the US to save people from themselves. Most who complain over this haven't put one dollar towards a rescue effort.
    It is like deal with a couch jury.

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

      Dying over a basketball game is far far less common than dying on Everest... and Everest isn't even the deadliest mountain.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmazedinFL

      It's not something I'd do myself, but if someone wants to take the risk it's their business. I just hope their families, including any children, etc. who are dependent on the climbers are also ok with the risk, as if the climber dies they'll be left to suffer the consequences.

      And why SHOULD I have to contribute any money towards the recovery/cleanup effort if I'm not one of the people who are directly causing or contributing to the problem? And it is a problem if one of the world's natural treasures is being turned into a giant trash heap by littering climbers. If there is to be any cleanup of that trash (not sure how it will occur or who will do it), it should be funded by climbers rather than anyone else, as it's ONLY the climbers who are causing the problem by littering. Why should I have to pay for someone else being irresponsible? And no, the difficulty of the climb is not an excuse for the littering, which is akin to spitting all over one of the world's natural treasures.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmazedinFL

      Sorry, I realize that it wasn't clear what my last post was in response to. It was in response to the person saying that I and others shouldn't complain about the trash heaps, etc. if we're not contributing to the cleanup effort. My response is that it's purely the responsibility of climbers–those who are putting all of the trash there in the first place–to fund any cleanup effort. Why should I have to contribute money to solve a problem that's purely the result of someone else's irresponsibility?

      May 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tracie

    I would love to smell one of the climbers underwear after they climbed everest. I love smellng skidmarks.

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

      You know what, Tracie? You just now with your stupid comment brought out something in me I had not even imagined before reading it. I've never called ANYONE this.......EVER and I see it being said lots and lots when refering to stupid comments. Many may think what I 'm about to say is not bad at all but remember I said I've never called anyone this before. BUT.............. YOU ARE A TROLL!!!!!! A troll many, many, many times over!

      May 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JeffJ

    Really love some of these comments.....do any of you know any of these people that climb? How do you know what they do for a living, they could be doctors, teachers, policemen or firefighters!!! They could be saving lives everyday of their lives and this is just a vacation for them....not my type of vacation...I prefer being on a tropical island sipping a margarita....oh wait that could kill me too.....

    May 23, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. freshnewblog

    Shouldn't the real story here be that people are tweeting from the top of Mount Everest?

    May 23, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. combatkelly

    Stupid is as stupid does. Just because it's there is no reason to act stupidly and risk your life in my opinion.However not being a liberal,i'll not try to tell YOU what to do. Go for it if it floats your boat.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Wrong - climbers are risking not just their own lives but the lives of others - No man is an island - try to understand this - Rush's obesity drug abuse and serial marrying hurt more people than just Rush

      May 23, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • c s

      I am a liberal and I beleive that people have a right to do with their body what they want. So if you want to climb a mountain or shoot a rapids go for it. The so called Republican conservatives are all for government telling people who they can marry and that a pregnant women MUST have a baby.

      The conservative Catholic church want to keep birth control from everyone, not just their members. I would guess that at least 95% of practicing Catholics practice birth control or you would see families with eight or ten kids. The Catholic church does not excommunicate its members who practice birth control, why would they object to employees having medical insurance with it?

      May 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Randy

    Natural Selection IMO. They know the risks.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. dave

    It more like a giant open air toilet than a morgue

    Spoiled selfish rich idiotic - it takes a special combination of traits to want to risk other people's lives so you can claim to have done something that other people really did for you

    May 23, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rich D.

    Look if you climb everest there is about a 70-30 chance you are going to survive. No Remourse for these indaviduals they knew what they were getting into. The craziest thing is all the dead bodies you pass along the way. that should be telling you something right there!! If you climb everest there is a large possiblility you will no come back.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. mike

    Look, Everest is no more an exploratory adventure than running out and playing in the middle of a busy interstate would be.

    It's a giant landmark that everyone knows about, a and the only point in climbing it is to prove you can survive. I.E., once again, just like playing in traffic.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. mcampbell

    Dying while you're doing something you "enjoy" doesn't make being dead any better. These aren't people making discoveries, Mt. Everest is the same and will remain so whether are not these egotist get to the top are not. Edmund Hillary was the first and that was a true accomplishment. After him, it doesn't matter.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      That's not true, mcampbell. Sure the history books only record Hilary's ascent as significant, but your own history book would record climbing Everest as an achievement. You have no idea the kind of training and commitment and investment it takes. Those people who died weren't rich couch potatoes who thought it'd be "neat" to climb a mountain and decided to try the biggest one first. They are all mountain climbers who have hiked hundreds of miles and climbed dozens of the world's tallest peaks already. Just because you don't set big goals for yourself, don't belittle the goals of others.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tony

    I guess I'll scratch this off my bucket list. I've already got my plot and I plan to go in it one day, not rotting on a mountain.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike C.

      @ Tony – A. You don't rot if you die on Everest. Your body will be fully intact until the end of time (every hair/every blood cell and organ). B. When it's your time to die it's your time to die! Should you die in a fire, in the ocean or other catastrophe that plot you cherish will essentially be symbolic. Too many people are so afraid of death that they don't live the only life they will ever know conciously. It's a sad testament to the human psyche.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tjp44

    I meant Tracie

    May 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    I'm sure climbing Everest is amazing for the view...if only you couldn't get an even higher view with far less risks in just about any modern aircraft.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RW-1

    Not badmouthing anyone who wishes to go, it's the companies that are trying to make the $$$ off of it. You have enough $$$ and they will take anyone up there who can pay, then if they can't make it or back, they are left there.

    I'm sure there still are pros there who are trying to push themselves, but those who are along for the "Adventure" without fully knowing the risks because they figure they are going to be taken care of are simply foolish.

    It has ceased being an "Adventure" or a "sport" when you have companies advertising to get you, the layman/woman up to the summit, etc.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
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