September 18, 2019
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Everest sees record footfall, jam as more than 200 climbers reach summit

 An undated file image shows a large number of climbers ascending the Hillary Step on Mt Everest in Nepal. EPA-EFE/HANDOUT/KAMI RITA SHERPA

An undated file image shows a large number of climbers ascending the Hillary Step on Mt Everest in Nepal. EPA-EFE/HANDOUT/KAMI RITA SHERPA

Kathmandu, May 22 (efe-epa).- The mighty Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, on Wednesday witnessed record footfalls that caused a jam on its slope, according to a Nepali government official.

More than 200 climbers reached the summit on Wednesday, making it the largest single-day ascent of Everest, Gyanendra Shrestha, the government liaison officer stationed at the Everest base camp, told EFE.

Many climbers who reached above Camp IV, the final camp located at an altitude of 7,900 meters (25,919 feet), complained in the early morning about having to wait in line for hours due to the overcrowding on a narrow ridge of the mountain at the South Summit area (above 8,690 meters), Shrestha said.

“Details of total climbing numbers are yet to come. As of Wednesday noon, there have been no casualties reported,” he told EFE.

A staggering 250 climbers had moved up from the final camp on Tuesday night, hoping to reach the top of Everest by Wednesday morning, a week before the favorable window to reach the world's most famous summit shuts down.

In 2012, around 260 climbers made their final push for the top. That year, 179 climbers successfully reached it. It had caused what many referred to as a “traffic jam” on the Hillary Step – a vertical rock with a sharp slope, considered one of the most dangerous parts of the climb – due to a narrow weather window.

The traffic jam in 2012 played a role in the death of four climbers – Ha Wenyi from China, Eberhard Schaaf of Germany, Nepal-born Canadian Shriya Shah and South Korean mountaineer Song Won-bin.

They died from exhaustion and altitude sickness while descending from the summit.

Although the number of climbers who scale Everest during the final week of window has grown in recent years, overcrowding at high altitude poses danger to both experienced climbers and the guides accompanying them.

During the final phase of ascent, climbers are exposed to risks derived from the thin air and many could run out of oxygen if they have to wait for long hours for their turn to reach the top, as well as to make it down from the summit.

This year, the Everest climbing season started on May 14, with a team of eight rope-fixing high-altitude climbers opening a climbing route. The first two-day weather window was closed on May 16 after over 150 world climbers made it to the summit. The second climbing window opened on Monday.

According to Shrestha, more than 150 climbers have been waiting at the Camp IV to mount their summit bid. They were set to start moving up at midnight, he said.

As of Wednesday, Shrestha said that nearly 400 climbers had reached the summit.

According to the Department of Tourism, 381 individuals have been cleared to climb the Everest this spring season. As each climber hires at least one climbing guide, the total number of people making the ascent may reach 1,000, the department has estimated.

For the past three years, the success rate for adventurers taking on the challenge of summiting the mountain has been close to 70 percent.

sap/dl

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