Stairway to heaven?

Daily chart: Stairway to heaven | The Economist.

Although Mt. Everest is the most well-known of the 8000m+ Himalayan peaks, it is not the most deadly to climb.

Everest’s smaller and less well-trodden Himalayan sisters tend to be much deadlier. For every three thrill-seekers that make it safely up and down Annapurna I, one dies trying[.]

The chart from the Economist tracks summits and deaths on the world’s highest peaks.  Everest is definitely the most popular peak to climb.  In fact, it’s so crowded that people are complaining.  Nepal used to limit the number of permits, but not any more.  Anybody with enough money can hire guides to drag them up to the top.

National Geographic has an article in the June issue that deals with the crowded conditions on the Everest trek.  Not only does the crowd put people at risk, it is also causing pollution in a pristine, and fragile, environment.

Daily chart: Stairway to heaven | The Economist

Photograph by Mark Jenkins

Years of garbage clutters Camp IV, left behind by the 4,000 or so climbers who’ve passed through over the past 60 years. Although efforts to control pollution and haul out refuse have seen success at Base Camp, abandoned tents, food waste, empty oxygen bottles, and other types of junk continue piling up at higher elevations. Camp IV is at 26,000 feet.

Will Nepal limit the number of people allowed on the mountain?  Probably not, according to the article.  Climbers and their guides spent almost $12 million there last spring, with $3 million of that going to the government in permits.

Many people have put forth ideas on how to make things better, but nothing has happened yet.  Hopefully the government of Nepal can gain control of the situation, and restore some sanity to the “Stairway to Heaven.”

Photograph by Andy Bardon          A crowd of climbers slog up the Lhotse Face, heading toward Camp IV, last stop before the summit.

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