Asia Pacific

Mount Everest 'traffic jams' block path to summit as week's death toll hits 10

AFP-JIJI, AP

Huge lines of climbers forming near the summit of Mount Everest have vexed organizers in recent days as the death doll on the world’s highest mountain hit 10 for the week.

The deaths of an Irish and a British climber were reported over the weekend.

“A British climber made it to the summit this morning, but collapsed and died only 150 meters down,” said Murari Sharma of Everest Parivar Expedition.

Another expedition organizer confirmed the death of an Irishman on Friday on the Tibet side of Everest.

On Wednesday, more than 200 climbers were taking advantage of clear weather to attempt to summit from both Nepal and China, but teams had to line up for hours to reach the top — risking frostbite and altitude sickness.

An American and Indian climber died that day, their expedition organizers said, on one of the busiest-ever days on the 8,848-meter (29,029-foot) peak.

Donald Lynn Cash, 55, collapsed at the summit on Wednesday as he was taking photographs, while Anjali Kulkarni, also 55, died while descending after reaching the top. Kulkarni’s expedition organizer, Arun Treks, said heavy traffic at the summit had delayed her descent and caused her death.

“She had to wait for a long time to reach the summit and descend,” said Thupden Sherpa. “She couldn’t move down on her own and died as Sherpa guides brought her down.”

Pasang Tenje Sherpa, of Pioneer Adventure, said that Cash collapsed on the summit and died close to Hillary Step as guides were bringing him back.They were among hundreds of foreigners and their Sherpa guides attempting to scale Everest and other Himalayan peaks during the popular spring climbing season, when only a few windows of good weather each May allow them the best chance of success.

Cash, 55, from Utah, had a long-held dream to climb the seven summits — the highest mountains on the seven continents — his daughter Danielle Cook posted on Facebook on Wednesday.

Santa Bir Lama, the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said Cash’s body was still near Hillary Step.

“Many others who are at the summit are still there. When the Sherpas come down, then they can bring his body down,” he said.Mountaineering in Nepal has become a lucrative business since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent of Everest in 1953.The Himalayan nation has issued a record 381 permits costing $11,000 each for this year’s spring climbing season, sparking fears of bottlenecks en route to the summit if poor weather cuts down the number of climbing days. Most Everest hopefuls are escorted by a Nepali guide, meaning more than 750 climbers will tread the same path to the top in the coming weeks.

At least 140 others have been granted permits to scale Everest from the northern flank in Tibet, according to expedition operators. This could take the total past last year’s record of 807 people reaching the summit.

At least six other foreign climbers have died on other 8,000-meter Himalayan peaks this season, while two are missing

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