Ramesh Pokhrel | The TrickyScribe: Nepal Department of Tourism issued a record 381 permits to mountaineers willing to scale Mt Everest this time while climbers got three weather-windows to push for Sagarmatha between May 16 and 27 after a team of climbing Sherpas opened route to the summit on May 14. Not less than 200 climbers had to wait for nearly two hours in queues at bottlenecks on their way to the summit on May 22. Climbers, however, who died were not stuck in the jam, climbing guides told The TrickyScribe in Kathmandu.
Indian climber, Anjali Kulkarni, died below the balcony area after she got sick while heading to the summit, Gyaljen Sherpa, who guided the 54-year-old climber, said. “She couldn’t even reach the jam area,” he said, adding that she had refused to abandon her summit push as she claimed she had invested the past decade’s earnings to make it to the summit this season.
Indian climber Kalpana Das was guided by Gelbu Sherpa and Pemba Chhiri Sherpa on Mt Everest this season. “We had time and again requested her to abandon the summit push after she couldn’t move above the balcony area,” Gelbu said. “It took her more than 18 hours to reach the summit from Camp IV.” There was no congestion when she reached above the South Col, he added. Das, who complained of weakness, succumbed near the balcony area on the descent.
Other climbers, including Irish professor Seamus Lawless, Indian climber Ravi Thakar, National Mountain Guide Dhurba Bista, British climber Robin Fisher and Colorado attorney Christopher Kulish died on days when there was no rush on Mt Everest.
NEPALESE AUTHORITIES SAVING FACE
Nepal’s tourism board is defending the number of permits it issued to climb Mt Everest for this season in which several climbers have died. Authorities claim they have no plans to restrict the number of permits the next year. They hope to attract still more tourists and climbers. The image of a crowded Everest linked to the death toll was spurred by a viral photo last week that showed climbers in their neon gear, packed in a tight, unforgiving queue to the highest point on Earth.
“There has been concern about the number of climbers on Mt Everest, but it is not because of the traffic jam that there were casualties,” said a high ranking official pleading anonymity. He pointed to weather conditions, insufficient oxygen supplies and equipment instead.
Gyanendra Shrestha, a liaison officer, who spent nearly a month at the base camp this season, also said that no one died due to traffic jam this season. Traffic jam often occurs every season, said Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, an international mountain guide who was on Mt Everest this season.