Nepalese officials are bracing for a “traffic jam” at Mount Everest this season due to a surge in the number of climbers eyeing to conquer the world’s tallest peak. This time, there would be around 400 climbers who will embark on the journey to scale the 8,848-metre-high Mt Everest from mid-May, according to the Department of Tourism.
As climbers are accompanied by high altitude workers, whose number is usually more than that of climbers, there could be around 1,000 individuals on their way to the summit, creating a queue whose snail-paced movement will be punctuated by frequent halts, The Kathmandu Post reported.
Expedition teams have started arriving at the base camp a month before the start of the season to acclimatise. “Everyone will be in a hurry to reach the peak when the weather clears; there is no management up there to fix turns for the climbers,” said Sonam Sherpa, who has scaled Mt Everest five times working as an aide to climbers.
“So there is a possibility of a traffic jam this year. Returning climbers in general have depleted stock of oxygen with them and they are exhausted, which means life hangs in the balance,” he said.
A good weather means expedition teams will start climbing up from camps two, three and four, resulting in “traffic jam”, the report said.
Those with 2014 permission are likely to return to scale the peak this year as in 2015, the government introduced a new law allowing climbers a three years’ window to scale Mt Everest with a single permit and fare.
“This is the final year of the three-year period and the climbers who had taken permission earlier have also arrived to ensure that they do not miss the chance. That is why the number of climbers this season is high,” Durgadatta Dhakal, information officer at the Department of Tourism, was quoted as saying.
This year, 267 climbers have already started trekking from Namche to the Everest base camp, said Kapindra Rai, programme officer of the Everest Pollution Control Committee.
Around 290 climbers had arrived at the base camp after acquiring permission to climb Mt Everest last year when hundreds were able to reach the summit following two years of disasters on the mountain.
The 2015 season was called off after 19 climbers were killed and 61 injured by an avalanche triggered by a massive earthquake. In 2014, 16 Sherpa guides died in an avalanche.
More than 3,000 people have scaled Mt Everest since 1953. Over 280 climbers have died attempting the scale the world’s tallest peak.