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. LJ

    I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy livin' or get busy dying. I for one wouldn't climb Everest, mountain climbing isn't my cup of tea, though if I was forced to, I'd go for K2, everybody knows it's the more difficult and less conquered mountain. But I'd never in a million eons allow myself to spend a decade or more incapable of taking care of myself, being shuttled in and out of hospitals every few months and having my last moments be of a doctor breaking my ribs as he's doing CPR trying to squeeze another few hours out of my life.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. LJ

    I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying. I for one wouldn't climb Everest, mountain climbing isn't my cup of tea, though if I was forced to, I'd go for K2, everybody knows it's the more difficult and less conquered mountain. But I'd never in a million eons allow myself to spend a decade or more incapable of taking care of myself, being shuttled in and out of hospitals every few months and having my last moments be of a doctor breaking my ribs as he's doing CPR trying to squeeze another few hours out of my life.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. ProgHead777

    "They died doing what they enjoy." That's crap. This is something that really annoys me. Some surfer gets killed by a great white shark down in Australia: "Oh, at least he died doing something he loved." No he didn't. He died getting chewed to pieces by a fish, in unimaginable agony. And these people on Everest died freezing and suffocating. They weren't happy; don't be stupid. I wonder if they had the time and the decency before they died to realize that they'd effectively abandoned their family and friends just to stroke their own egos. Just for some worthless accomplishment to brag about. Wait, what am I saying? Egotists don't think of other people.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Schillaci

      I don't think that one should not be allowed to attempt to enjoy life and acheive goals simply because loved ones may be abandoned! With that said, I have two young daughters and I have significantly reduced my climbing because of them. However, I would rather show my girls that living life is more important than just passing the years. At times, I have lived an average life, at others not. I can tell you that if you never risk life, then you never live it!...and I am no adrenaline junkie!

      May 23, 2012 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
    • lollypop

      Please troll, show some respect for the living; I know you feel that way but you don't have to say every thought that pops into your head like a 2 year old. Their families deserve some respect and I think there is a certain portion of our current culture that fails to admit that not every problem can be solved, not every risk can be cushioned; it leads to people feeling safer than they should in the face of extreme danger. They see so many success stories they feel that no one can fail and certainly not them, no if a 73 year old lady or a 17 year old girl can do it they can too. Respect nature–she is scary.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |

      ProgHead777 is a 1000% correct. At my friends funeral ( died on motorcycle head on with a semi) some fool got up and said he died happy doing what he loved, I told him to shut it,I don't think he was happy with his underwear full right before he went through that semi's radiator.I'm sure he'd perfer to go out sitting on his rocking chair on his porch at the ripe old age of 92, instead of 45 facing down a Kenworth at 80 mph.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Chef Sunun

      Very well said.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Schillaci

      Some people would rather not reach 92 years old, and many do not want to die in a rocking chair! Live life! Don't just watch it go by.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. jeff

    "REALISTIC training regimen before attempting Mt Everest (if you have better than average fitness) should be a minimum of 5 years."

    Yeah, that ought to be true, and I wish it were, but it's not. That mountain is literally roped out for you and you just go and walk and climb where they tell you to. One girl literally didn't know how to attach crampons. She didn't make it, but they allowed her to try and she got a ways up. Lots of simply "fit" people have made it. Which, essentially, is the problem.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. Schillaci

    As a climber, I can tell you that it is not necessarily a question of being stupid or not. I am no adrenaline junkie, but I can say that if you never risk life, then you never truley live it. However, as a climber, Everest is not high on my list of dream climbs. It truley has become Mt. DisneYverest and quite dangerous for that reason. As far as bragging rights, it's NO K2!!! There are at least 200 mountains in the world that are more difficult that are very much lower. Additionally there are many high mountains (6000+meters) that are much more serious non disney climbs. Moving on, yeah it was their decision to climb Mt. DisneYverest and nobody should risk their lives to bring down their frozen corpses. Finally, I do feel for their loved ones and I hope that there are no young children left behind!.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  6. captvideo52

    Obama said that its all Woodrow Wilson's fault.................

    May 23, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
    • lollypop

      That is not the topic; do try to keep up, dear.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Charly Brains

    Noup... I rather to swim in a beautiful caribbean beach and get a nice sun tan while I enjoy the beautiful life around me... 😉

    May 23, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  8. charli

    I just don't see the purpose of climbing it to be honest . I also am not sure I could get in that sort of shape to do it anymore, i have a irregular heart beat so not very wise.

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

    Sorry if I was unclear – my message was meant for "Jimmy the Mick."

    May 23, 2012 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. Steve

    I don't know, seems like this has always been pointless since the day after the helicopter was invented - if they can fly that high. Drop me off on the top and I'll enjoy the view for a few minutes and then I'm out of there. I don't get the climbing part. Some 'man against nature' thing, I guess.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Don't you think it's nature against machine at that point. Nature created man, man created machine.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
  11. GardenGrl

    One more thing I'm never going to do...

    May 23, 2012 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    To ascend a mountain, to complete a puzzle, to get the job of your dreams, to dive to the farthest depths of the ocean, to reach your arm out and explore the outer reaches of the solar system, to walk on the moon. These are all feats that the human spirit, the human need and desire to reach the unreachable. And all of these have seem unreachable to every single person on this planet at one point or another. It is sad, horrible and often tragic when it ends in failure. But the opposite side of the fence is just has equally and even more rewarding. That is the human spirit. It is amazing, and inspiring to me everyday.
    Imagine where we would be today, as a race, if we didn't have that need or desire to push ourselves to the maximum limit or beyond? Where would we be today?

    May 23, 2012 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  13. Tyokol

    I was in Mt. Everest back in 1999 and then again in 2004. People, in their hysterical zeal to score reaching the summit continue on when good judgement would demand turning back to base camp. Others use all their energies in the way up perishing to exhaustion and cerebral hypoxia in the way down. I counted over 80 corpses my self, and is not uncommon to see a survivor using a corpse as a sled to ease their way down to safety.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. thebes42

    Of course its "like a morgue".
    Anyone who has read on the subject knows that climbing Everest is a sketchy proposition and there is a fair chance that a climber could die in the attempt.
    Add to that these guide services taking up climbers who have little experience but lots of money, and its not going to get any better.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gaunt

    There are two reasons people die climbing Everest.

    The first is bad luck. nothing you can do about that, its an incredibly dangerous place.

    The second, and more common is lack of preparation, lack of awareness of the dangers and lack of the exceptional fitness required. People are stupid and think this is just another mountain, and then they die.

    Dont forget there is a Sherpa who has climbed to the summit of Everest TWENTY-ONE times. Skill, preparation and fitness can mitigate the bad luck.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
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