Nearly 900 climbers are expected to ascend the world’s tallest peak.

Record Everest climbers prompt mounting overcrowding concerns

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Everest 190513
Nearly 890 climbers—a record number—are expected to ascend Everest this year, prompting concerns of overcrowding and safety. Photo Credit: DanielPrudek/Getty Images
Everest 190513

However, the numbers could put climbers at greater risk. There is a higher chance of bottlenecks forming as teams make their ascent, possible shortages of oxygen tanks, and a higher risk of frostbite and even death. 

A record number of mountaineers are expected to flock to Mount Everest this year, prompting concerns about overcrowding and safety. 

The world’s tallest peak has seen over 4,000 successful ascents since 1953, when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first made the summit, according to the Himalayan Database.

In recent years, the mountain has attracted more visitors who are drawn by the cheaper prices due to increased competition among expedition organisers. 

However, the numbers could put climbers at greater risk. There is a higher chance of bottlenecks forming as teams make their ascent, possible shortages of oxygen tanks, and a higher risk of frostbite and even death. 

In 2012, a photograph of a human jam below the summit prompted calls for better crowd management, and even a limit on the number of permits issued annually.

Nepal currently grants permits to all who apply and can foot the US$11,000 fee to scale the 8,848m peak. The government has already handed out 378 climbing permits this year, according to its tourism department. 

The figure surpasses the previous record of 373 in 2017. 

This also puts about 750 climbers on the same path to the summit in the coming weeks as most Everest aspirants will require the help of Nepali guides. 

A further 140 others are also expected to scale Everest using the northern route from Tibet, according to expedition operators, taking the potential total past the 2018 record of 807 when five people died.

The mountain attracts the most number of visitors in spring, when the icy winds and bone-chilling temperatures prove most forgiving. 

But the window for the climbing season is short, with ascents expected to begin in the coming days and ending by the end of May or first week of June. 

Expedition operators are currently concerned that powerful jet streams around the top of Everest may reduce the number of summit days and raise the likelihood for many climbers making their ascent at the same time. 

There are calls for the country to limit the number of climbing permits. But this would mean decreasing a much-needed source of revenue for the cash-strapped country. In 2019 alone, Nepal collected over US$4 million in permit fees. 

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