Photo of the day

Loved this NYT story about the insanity that has becoming trying to summit Everest amidst overwhelming crowds.  This image is amazing:

A long line of climbers waiting to summit Mount Everest on May 22.CreditProject Possible, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The problem hasn’t been avalanches, blizzards or high winds. Veteran climbers and industry leaders blame having too many people on the mountain, in general, and too many inexperienced climbers, in particular.

Fly-by-night adventure companies are taking up untrained climbers who pose a risk to everyone on the mountain. And the Nepalese government, hungry for every climbing dollar it can get, has issued more permits than Everest can safely handle, some experienced mountaineers say.

Add to that Everest’s inimitable appeal to a growing body of thrill-seekers the world over. And the fact that Nepal, one of Asia’s poorest nations and the site of most Everest climbs, has a long record of shoddy regulations, mismanagement and corruption.

The result is a crowded, unruly scene reminiscent of “Lord of the Flies” — at 29,000 feet. At that altitude, there is no room for error and altruism is put to the test…

According to Sherpas and climbers, some of the deaths this year were caused by people getting held up in the long lines on the last 1,000 feet or so of the climb, unable to get up and down fast enough to replenish their oxygen supply. Others were simply not fit enough to be on the mountain in the first place…

He pressed on. After long, cold days, he inched up a spiny trail to the summit early on Thursday and ran into crowds “aggressively jostling for pictures.”

He was so scared, he said, that he plunked down on the snow to keep from losing his balance and had his guide take a picture of him holding up a small sign that said, “Hi Mom Love You.’’

On the way down, he passed two more dead bodies in their tents.

“I was not prepared to see sick climbers being dragged down the mountain by Sherpas or the surreal experience of finding dead bodies,” he said.

And while I’m at it, I’ll always plug Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, perhaps the most compelling non-fiction book I have ever read.  Trust me– just read it.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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