Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Assault of Mt. Everest and the challehge of human traffic jams on the high slopes

People line up on the slope. Mt Everest.Emirates 24|7
Wisdom of Sir Edmund Hillary. telegraph.co.uk
In the 1940s challenging Mt. Everest, the tallest peak in the world was a difficult job, almost an impossibility; this being due to lack of good mountaineering equipment and poor knowledge of weather  conditions at higher altitude. Since the first  successful assault on Mt. Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zelander with his  companion Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953, the scenario in the realm of professional mountaineering had changed, backed by improved mountaineering knowledge, better  communication equipment, new access roads to the lowest base and above all affordable cost of the expedition. 
Everest, human traffic. Telegraph
Border Nepal - WordPress.com
Despite the advances in professional mountaineering, there is no way you can avoid  the inherent dangers and challenges  existing on the higher slopes  to the summit. Mere latest mountaineering gears and gadgets alone would guarantee success as the route to the top is ridden with dangers. For several reasons,  until late 1970s, only a handful of well trained climbers could summit  Everest and the rest would withdraw from the expedition, considering the enormity of risk involved.

Since 2012, the number of people reaching the summit has gone up considerably up to 500 a year. In 2014 season when a party of climbers were ready for the further assault, a large chunk of ice fall triggered a dangerous avalanche killing 16 prospective submitters. Undaunted by such mishaps, adventurous people could not resist the lure of the majestic mountain. Until a few years ago, among roughly 4000 people, only 600 made it to the top and about 250 climbers lost their lives on the higher reach because of dangerous weather conditions, rock falls avalanches, etc. Not withstanding the risks and prohibitive costs, more than 100000 people, including several thousands from the UK  go to Nepal to hike the higher slopes of the Himalayas.  Thousands enjoy hiking up to the base camps from Lukia's Tensing-Hillary airport. 

Sixty five years after the very first assault  on Mount Everest, the  joy of challenge of the treacherous climb has been blunted and its risks almost minimized by modern technology and commercialization. Now, it has reached a stage where  the traffic jam at the world’'s highest point is a threat to the purity of ecological environment on Mt. Everest. In 2013 alone, out of 1040 people,  record 697 people reached the highest point on earth (8,848 m).  Once a forbidden peak,  Everest now has become more accessible and since 1990 the percentage of successful assault has gone up manifold from less than 20% to 67%. Well- charted routes (unlike 1960s), fixed ropes laid out by Sherpas, availability of  better, lighter equipment, accurate forecasts and more guides have all reduced the risks considerably and Mt Everest has become less adversary unlike before. Though the mortality rate has not gone up, the risk is very much there, particularly for people with inadequate training in high-altitude mountain climbing.
Mt. Everest 2012 season, traffic on higher slope. alanarnette.com

Prospective climbers do not realize the challenges on account of traffic jams on the higher slopes to reach the summit.  Unmindful of the prohibitive cost involved nowadays in going on an expedition to Everest, people in thousands flock to the base camp and have to wait in a long queue for further assault on the mountain. The moot question is: why do climbers keep dying on the world’s most famous mountaineering route with all latest facilities? Part of the reason is lots of people take a shot at the highest peak in the Summer when the weather conditions will favor the climbers at higher slopes. It means there will be human traffic bottlenecks to get to the top.  

Hundreds of climbers  have to wait for a few hours in line line to access the fixed ropes used to cross  a tough section of the climb known as the Hillary Step, a 12-metre (39-foot) wall of rock and ice just below the top, at 8,763 metres (28,750 feet) — the last obstacle before reaching the summit. The Step is at an angle of 45 to 60 degrees, which for most climbers, “is a simple obstacle easily climbed using the ropes. The hitch is it not an easy job standing in line on the slope of the highest mountain in the world. It is not line standing in line for the Amtrak train at a railroad station in the USA or any bus stand in India. The following may cause heart burns due to human traffic jams on the high slopes of mt. Everest: 
 01. The longer you stay in an oxygen-deficient environment, the more oxygen you lose in the Oxygen canister you care. 

02. When your turn is up, you run the risk of running out of oxygen, it means a threat to your life. 

03. You need enough oxygen to to be at the summit and for the descent to a safer level. 

04. While waiting in line for a long time the body temperature drops along with physical strength

05. Such conditions may be conducive to the formation of frostbite. It not taken care at the right time, you may end up losing a few toes or finger. 

06. Yet another challenge is continuous waiting in line may lead to hypothermia, a serious threat to life. 

07. At this higher level in severe cold condition, if you have stomach problem and feel an urge to relieve yourself, you are more exposed to danger.

08. Climbers must have an awareness about "Mountain Sickness". A person's mental agility and discretionary powers will be severely hampered under extreme cold conditions. 

09. In a near-death situation staying cool or aborting the climb or descending to a safer level would be a challenge.

10. Some fool-hardy customers force their guides on the summit, in the face of lurking dangers. In the death zone, bad decision will cause deaths. 

11. According to Ed Viesturs, one of the world’s most accomplished mountaineers, who recently wrote, “It’s the traffic jam that causes all the trouble. Climbers run out of bottled oxygen and collapse, or they push upward long after a sensible turnaround deadline and end up descending in the dark.”

12. Mt. Everest suffers from too many climbers who without their knowledge  contribute to environmental degradation. 
14. The crux of the problem is a majority of the climbers are amateurs and do not have effective training to deal with high-Alpine weather conditions.

15.  Correct training before the final assault is a must. Climbing teams spend weeks on the mountain acclimatizing  with the changing before making their summit push, which will be between early May and the first week of June, a brief weather window that provides favorable chances of reaching the summit—and returning alive. Every one in the group takes the same route to summit. 

16. Camp 4 close to the “Death Zone”. The Death Zone is a term used by climbers to refer to the altitude above 8000m. Above this altitude, humans have to struggle to stay alive. Climbers have to push themselves before running out of oxygen and it is the most difficult  and challenging stretch to the summit and normally it takes a few hours to get to the summit. Extra delay in wait will increase the risk.

17. A climber at this level burns 15000 calories
six days worth of energy for a normal man, hence he needs to eat and drink a lot to keep himself fit. However, your body burns fat and muscle to sustain energy as the digestive system slows down.


18. One main  reason for increased crowds is that the Everest can be challenged for  only  a few weeks, usually in May, every year.  When the weather is  quite suitable,  it offers only some windows of opportunity.  On those days, one can expect a long line of climbers.

19.  with the advent of commercialisation  There are companies that offer  guided climbs on Everest for prices which start from $50,000. The peak is no longer  a difficult frontier.

In the wake of more and more climbers willing to summit covetous Everest, the environment around Everest has taken severe beating and the environmental degradation and its impact on the water sources is not only a challenge to the Nepal government but also to  countries who send a large number of climbers to the roof of the world.

https://www.emirates247.com/news/emirates/exclusive-man-who-planted-uae-flag-
https://bordernepal.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/traffic-jam-on-mount-everest/