Mountaineers have revealed the nightmare chaos and queues that they face on climbing to the top of the world’s highest mountain.
In the past, reaching the summit of Mount Everest from Nepal was regarded as a supreme achievement and the 8,848 metre was not officially conquered until a team led by Edmund Hillary stood at the top in May 1953.
Now, 66 years later, a short window of opportunity to reach the summit, inexperienced climbers and Nepalese government rules that demand each climber is accompanied by a local Sherpa guide have turned the experience into a horror show.
Everest death and carnage
So far this year, 11 climbers have died on Everest – double the average of six for most years.
On one day, more than 200 climbers were standing toe-to-toe waiting their turn to touch the top of the world – with the same number of Sherpas beside them.
Elia Saikaly, a film maker, reached Hillary Step, the final stop-off before the summit and described his horror at what he saw.
“Death. Carnage. Chaos. Line-ups. Dead bodies on the route and in tents at camp 4. People who I tried to turn back who ended up dying. People being dragged down. Walking over bodies. Everything you read in the sensational headlines all played out on our summit night,” he said.
Earthquake triggers avalanche
“There were 200-plus climbers making their way to the summit. I came across a deceased climber … that person’s body was fixed to an anchor point between two safety lines and every single person that was climbing towards the summit had to step over that human being.
“With a line-up pushing you up the mountain there is nothing you can do. You really have no choice but to carry on.”
More than 300 people have died on Everest since 1922. The largest loss of life was when an earthquake triggered an avalanche in 2015, killing 15 as snow, rocks and ice swept through the base camp.
Moves are underway to issue permits to climbers on the Indian and Chinese faces of the mountain, where climbing companies are accused of cutting safety corners and allowing climbers with poor fitness levels on the slopes.