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Seven Climbers Die in Everest Summit Traffic Jam

Crowding near the summit of Mount Everest has yet again led to climber deaths. This week, seven climbers died while descending from Earth’s highest point. A favorable weather window over the last few days led to a line of climbers working their way up the summit ridge, creating traffic jams around technical portions of the route and leaving climbers exposed to strong winds and bitter cold.

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The Nepalese government issued a record 381 climbing permits this season. The Chinese government, which controls access to the mountain’s north side, set a limit on permits, likely leading to an increase in climbers from the Nepalese side. The favorable weather window led to several large expedition parties climbing together.

American climber Donald Cash was among the dead this week. Cash, from Utah, fainted on his descent from the summit and could not be revived by his guides on Wednesday. Indian climber Ravi Thakar also died Wednesday due to exhaustion. On Thursday Indian climbers Kalpana Dash, Anjali Kulkarni, and Nihal Bagwan and Austrian climber Ernst Landgraf, all died of exhaustion while waiting. Irish climber Seamus Lawless is presumed dead after a fall last week.

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Meanwhile on the north side of the mountain, pro climbers Cory Richards and Esteban Topomena are attempting a first ascent on a new route to the summit. The duo were forced to abandon their first attempt at 7,600 meters due to sketchy conditions. They spent 40 hours on the wall, including staying in an open bivvy at 7,300 feet. After resting at basecamp and waiting for a new weather window, they will attempt to finish their route in the coming days.  

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Photo @estebantopomena 1st attempt: @estebantopomena and I spent 40 hours on the wall with one open bivvy at 7300 m (around 24,000 ft). The conditions we encountered coupled with our chosen tactics compounded by exertion meant that we had to turn back at around 7,600 m. Downclimbing safely took another 7 hours from our high point. Back in ABC and reassessing our approach, we are looking into the early days of June for a potential second window and attempt. Is it a failure? In the most strict sense of the word, Absolutely. But is it a building block? For sure. I've always maintained that this is truly a journey vs. a summit sport. But to truly understand the whole process, you have to get to the summit. Fingers crossed that happens this season.

A post shared by Cory Richards (@coryrichards) on

About The Author

stash member Max Ritter

I manage digital content here at TGR, run our gear testing program, and am stoked to be living the dream in the Tetons.

Photo says it all.