With the death of a US climber on Mt Everest, the toll at the world's highest mountain has touched its peak at 11, including four Indians, as the climbing season draws to a close. Christopher John Kulish, 61, breathed his last on Monday after scaling Everest. Although, he came down to the South Cole safely in the Evening, he all of a sudden had heart stroke and died, Meera Acharya, senior official at the tourism department, told PTI. Even as the number of deaths were put at 11 across the international media, the Nepal tourism ministry maintained the number at 9.
The climbing season, which began on May 14, will come to an end on Friday. Four Indians died on the Everest and two each died on Mt Kanchanjunga and Mt Makalu, bringing the total death toll of Indian climbers in the Himalayas to 8. Indians have topped among the international climbers attempting to scale the Summit this spring with a total number of 78 of them getting permission.
After the end of the season, some crucial issues are likely to take the centre stage, including what many say ‘traffic jam’ on the top of the world, The Kathmandu Post reported. “There was a record-breaking summit on May 22 with at least 220 climbers reaching the peak,” Gyanendra Shrestha, the government liaison officer, said.
Mountaineers have suggested difficult weather conditions, a lack of experience and the growing commercialisation of expeditions as contributing factors to the backlog, the CNN reported. During the week beginning May 20, crowds of climbers became stuck in a queue to the summit, above the mountain's highest camp at 8,000 metres (26,247 feet). The summit of Mount Everest is 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) high.
Most people can only spend a matter of minutes at the summit without extra oxygen supplies, and the area where mountaineers have been delayed is known to many as the "death zone," the CNN report said. Five people died on Everest in 2018.
In 2016 and 2017, the peak claimed lives of six and five climbers respectively. In 2015, quake-triggered avalanches killed 20 climbers. On April 18, 2014, there was an avalanche near Everest Base Camp which killed 16 Nepali guides. Rescuers pulled out 13 bodies and the remaining three were never recovered, Kathmandu Post report said.