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. just sayin

    It is hard to feel sorry for people directly responsible for their death. This was no accident, rather a choice. Let their death be a lesson in stupidity.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heidi

      I totally agree ~ It is such an irresponsible thing to do for "fun", especially when the dead leave behind spouses & children.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jung

      Are your feelings as fervent towards smokers and drinkers? One would hope.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • nunez

      I agree with you 100%

      May 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • ni

      i agree 100%

      May 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. lrt24

    It's just become a kind of tourism for rich people now. These aren't mountaineers. If you can't climb the thing without ropes, ladders, and oxygen bottles that were all carried up there by someone else, you should not be allowed on the mountain. Especially as what generally kills people is the crowds of inexperienced climbers struggling up the narrow steps.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • .Jung

      There's steps to the top of the world? Who knew, well of course other than Led Zeppelin.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. danger

    This article was worth reading until you provided cliff's notes of the comments from the original article. That's not journalism–that's embarrassing. "Reporting" tweets is bad enough, but copy/pasting comments from your own articles? It would be hard to find more stupidity than what you find in the comments sections of online articles (including this). Try again.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      @danger Thanks for your comment. I can certainly understand why someone might feel that way, but we've actually been featuring readers' comments for a long time on this blog. They have a lot of interesting things to say, and the posts often raise interesting thoughts and ideas. We're trying something a little different with the format this time.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • fingolfin

      @danger Couldn't agree more– annoying article. More annoying are the folks whining about people doing dangerous things. Live and let live. However @lrt24 has and excellent point about it being a rich playground.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deej59

      These are lazy times in the media. CNN shows some of the laziest policy of them all. Do you read the sports via CNN? Probably not. Most people probably gave up on that when they realized CNN was just linking to something called Truth & Rumors, where a few misguided Sports Illustrated interns post fragments of sports stories from around the country so a few hundred aggressively negative regulars can make nasty comments. And about 90% of the time it really is just rumor and speculation. Click on what looks like it's going to be an important article about a crime and you get Nancy Grace passing judgement before the trial starts. Not news. Just dressed like news. But we brought this on ourselves, with our hunger for the 24/7 news cycle. Just like we're responsible for the awful flood of reality shows.

      May 22, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. just sayin

    There should be zero rescue attempts for situations like this.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • HikingExpert

      There ARE zero rescue attempts for this situation. So relax.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. The Master


    May 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jacob

    Something i think people are forgetting is that it was their own choice to make the climb. Yes they may have underestimated it, but that's their own fault. I am not trying to be disrespectful to the loved ones of the dead, but It was the climbers who made the choice to climb. There fore it was their own stupidity that resulted in their deaths.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lila

    Yes I would do it. There is a base camp around 17500 vs the top(where the bodies are 26-27000) that isn't dangerous. If for some reason I really wanted to go all the way, I would take the risk without any regrets. Everyone isn't afraid of death and it's a perfect place to left or buried.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. melvynman

    They paid a lot of money to risk their lives on Mount Everest and they got what they paid for. Next in line...
    Most climbers don't dream of Everest anymore its for tourist.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nsaidi

    Do you have any thoughts you'd like to share here, or is there something you would like to know more about?

    May 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • anpel

      The closest to a mountain adventure I have had was skiing in the Swiss Alps and I personally would not take such a risk as the mountain climbers. I have found it fascinating to read accounts such as "Into Thin Air" though and also the stories of some of the first people to climb Everest. The adventure and pioneering spirit is absorbing even though I don't want to take such risks myself.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ray

    One report says Sriya Shah collapsed and died just 250 m. from camp 4. It sounds like many people walked by without stopping to help. Yes the weather was bad, and it would ad risk to themselves, but what is the point of this if you have to sacrifice your human values and ignore the possibility of helping one in need. With these deficient values, it points to a need for somebody to change something.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Ray – If I read or hear about ONE more example of someone blaming a death on someone else (vs taking personal responsibility), I am going to jump off a cliff and blame you for it. Pretty wreckless of you to suggest and infer "many people walked by" simply based on how close person was to camp. We are about 13,000 miles and 26,000 ft away from where all this took place. I have been in storms where I could not see more than 1 foot in front of me, let alone somewhere on the tallest mountain in the world.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James

    There are so much to do to make life worthwhile, why waste your life doing something that worthless? What about the loved ones, don't you care? Only the empty headed selfish ones would go do something they enjoy.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bucktooth

    What is anybody even doing up there?????

    May 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Josh

    One would think that the dead, frozen, bodies along the sides of the trail, would be a really good warning to those climbing it.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. lindaboroff

    Risking death can become an addiction. People do not feel really "alive" unless they are inches from being dead. This was brought out in The Deer Hunter when the Christopher Walken character loses his mind after being forced to play Russian Roulette, and when he is freed becomes obsessed with playing it over and over. I undertood instantly that he only knew he was alive when he heard the click of an empty chamber. So he was compelled to risk death over and over again. Climbers seem only to feel totally alive when they are preparing for an ascent or actually enduring the physical nad mental torture. Down on the ground, amid friends and family, safe and sound, they feel only half alive or even...dead.I think it is a pathology at work there.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Summiting First

    I would climb Everest in a second if someone else could pay the bills to sponsor me.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
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