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Friday, May 25,2012

Everest Overcrowding: Can It Be Fixed?

photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
In the quest to explain why four climbers died on one of Mt. Everest's deadliest days ever, much attention has gone to overcrowding on the 29,035-foot peak.

When the season's first good weather window opened on Friday and Saturday, about 150 climbers lined up to go for the summit. Many had to wait an hour or more for their turn. And some ended up making the final push, with dwindling oxygen supplies, in the late afternoon -- far too late to be safe. The four climbers who died over the weekend fell to exhaustion and altitude sickness.

To prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening in the future, some mountaineers have proposed imposing limits or schedules that would control how many climbers are allowed on Everest's slopes and ridges at a time to avoid a traffic jam. For now, regulations in the Himalayas are minimal.

Yet, some guides think it's unlikely that stricter rules will ever govern Mt. Everest. Even if there were firmer rules, climbers would likely still make bad decisions about weather, gear, food and other critical details.

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