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. Wellcraft19

    If attempting Everest, everyone knows (or should know) it is a high risk "game".
    You can be in peak physical shape (or you HAVE to be in...), but weather, other climbers, and "nature" can still ruin your day.
    If you are not prepared to face those dire consequences, don't go. No money in the world can or will save you high up on that mountain.

    All that said, I truly admire the ones who have summitted, and come back home to tell about it, but maybe even more those who showed amazing strength and turned around just before the summit. The late Göran Kropp did show that strength in 1996, and still managed to muster superman powers and summit on his own later the same season.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SarahSoAndSo

    There is no more clear cut example of the all-consuming nature of our dependence, nay, our obsession with social media. Climbing Mt. Everest and *tweeting* of all things. Unbelievable.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • SherBear2012

      LOL, yeah instead of enjoying the experience of being up on Everest or whatever, she is tweeting. unbelievable is right!

      May 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ficheye

      I totally agree. Many times it is best to achieve something and just keep it to yourself. This is called 'character building'. The other is called 'ego boosting'.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jan Lang

    I have notice that non of the death are Sherpa people. The Sherpa's have made the climb with very little gear.
    The Earth is a living organism – Respect it and it will respect you – it is not a toy.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • beelzabarber

      The sherpas have common sense. The Foreign climbers have money

      May 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bill

    Nothing new here. George Mallory was lost on Everest in 1924, and they found his body in 1999.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 4tobate

    Seen it for myself. Memorial for dead people and literally frozen human crap everywhere. No thanks!

    May 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Svabicek

    10% of those attempting to conquer Everest have died and will die (technology can't conquer Mother Nature). Denial is a powerful trait, but everyone attempting Everest knows the odds. They've assumed the risk. But I'm in favor of increasing the Nepalese/Chinese tax on Everest climbers to fund clean-up/recovery expeditions (to the extent safe/possible).

    May 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cindi

    I am not interested in climbing Mt. Everest because of the risks, the hazards to the body, and the cost. But I have always thought that those that whose answer to the question of "Why climb Mt.Everest?" is something besides "Because it's there,", understand the risks and go for it anyway.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Adam

    Into Thin Air is a pretty darn exhilarating book, not that anyone asked... Its accounts of people leaving others to die near the summit are pretty chilling, especially when the author can make one understand and tacitly accept such a cold, pragmatic rationality.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suzanne

      THANK YOU, Adam – I'm glad SOMEONE mentioned the book by Krakauer – forget all the bad press about him – this account of that May 1996 climb – mentioned above with the death of 16 – is am amazing work of art. It's an obsession I don't have, but to those who do they go in knowing that no one will stay behind to rescue them – each moment lost in helping, is oxygen lost, and lives lost. The Nepalese name for the mountain translates to mother...for some it's the ultimate return home. I do think they oversell spots – at, last I read, $45,000 per person just for the permit. And yes, they leave garbage...it's all a shame, really, but it's also a choice.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jenny

    so wait,,,these people actually "freeze to death" and are left there? aren;t they covered "burried" in snow, is it their grave? a beautiful "untouched" place is now riddled with trash? what is the "wait in line" for? i don't think alot of us understand the concept of "rope ladder" ??? do you actually turn around and the person behind you is now frozen to death??? wth fun would that be, and then you leave him there, standing, and frozen to death in that spot????

    May 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • KG

      You have to read the book "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer. He explains in vivid detail, what is meant by waiting in line and yes, ALL teams who accept the challenge have to wait in line to ascend and descend- and May is the only time to climb, because the weather is untolerable any other time of the year. It's absolutely amazing how political climbing a friggin mountain is.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nit

    With all respect to their courage climbing Mt. Everest I would say it's worth to die doing what you love to do ! ....RIP

    May 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sumo

    I don't see what's "brave" or "adventurous" about paying a bunch of sherpas to drag you along to a place that gets more foot traffic than your average McDonalds.

    Is it these people's horrible risk assessment skills that make them so "courageous"?

    May 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Morbid

    I didn't think Mt E was worth climbing. But now that they mentioned the corpsicles..., makes for an interesting sight seeing.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Crystal

    I think it is a total waste of human life. How can you explain these people willingly walking up a mountain to their death?Were they so bored with their lives? There are soldiers, emergency workers, and others just trying to make a living who are killed doing what they have to do to survive. Not to mention people in third world countries that have no choice but to starve to death or die of disease. It seems a little disrespectful to flaunt an unneccessary, deadly decision when people are killed everyday just trying to live and survive.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • SlaveWorld

      You need medication to balance out your emotions.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Timo

    No WAY should a 73 year old woman be allowed on Everest!!!

    May 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • MsNimitz25

      She made it to the top and, what's more important, back down again. More power to her! I hope she tries again when she's 83. What a fine example for my daughters.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • MARKO

      figure out some way to clean up the mess....come on we landed on the moon. Much worse climate than Everest ..right?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jymbo

    I would go in a heart beat and should I die up there on the trek that would be a fate that I accept. Hopefully I would freeze in such a position as to be used as a landmarker or a "you must be this tall to ride this ride" sign.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • MARKO

      There are very tight controls on the number of people that raft the grand canyon. There should be the same kind of thing for Everest. Limit the number w/ a strict permit system. figure a safe number a day and stick to that.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
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