The Everest Madness

Queue in the Hillary Step, the last few meters before the Everest summit. Two persons died this day since they couldn’t take the long wait and got taken by altitude sickness. Photo NIRMAL PURJA AFP made the 22nd of May 2019.

That’s it, this photo is real…

We are in the very middle of the high season to summit the highest mountain in the world; Everest 8848m[1]. Hundreds of climbers arrive in Nepal to acclimate and perform one of the most difficult physical challenges for the human body.

Amongst other things, climbers spend between one and two months in the Sagarmatha National Park acclimatizing and training the body for the big day.

During this period of training and acclimatization, climbers (clients) experience, amongst other things, things like the following:

Sleeping in camping tents under below zero temperatures all dressed with the down full body jackets to avoid to freeze.

Suffer big wind and snow storms in some occasions.

Waking up in the middle of the night after barely having slept, to start climbing.

Suffer strong headaches due to the lack of oxygen.

Suffer pulmonary edemas.

Suffer frostbite in some parts of the body.

Suffer diarrhea and vomiting because of Altitude Sickness.

Suffer fatigue due to being exposed to physical conditions for which the body is not really prepared to perform.

Suffer strong apneas during the sleep process, if sleeping ever occurs…

• Exhibit the body to heights where oxygen is so low that if the body is in that altitude for enough time, it stops working and therefore, stops living.[2].

• Seeing colleagues faint and some times, die in front of their eyes.

Suffer fear during the whole process.

• Contract Nepali Sherpa staff to work for them and this way avoid having to carry their own material and belongings to each camp along the mountain[3].

Produce huge quantities of trash which represents a big challenge to all human teams that are employed to remove all the rubbish and to get rid of it in an appropriate manner.[4].

Spend between $40.000 and $90.000 to pay the expedition.[5]

And, as we can see in the picture above, suffer long cues during the ascension to arrive to the top…

These long queues not only occur at the Hillary Step (the last few meters before the Everest summit), it also happens in multiple occasions throughout the ascension during weeks in different locations of the mountain from the Everest Base Camp at 5365m to the very end at the Hillary Step.

Especially in places like the known “Pop Corn” or “Ice Fall”, which is the first part just after the Base Camp. For example, in this section, there are numerous big crevasses that all climbers must overcome passing through ladders that serve as a “bridge”. This is a highly complex and slow exercise… and lots of climbers must wait a long time to cross several crevasses…

Climbers of multiple expeditions start climbing at the same hour and, often, some climbers have less experience in mountaineering than others and they cause long delays in the agenda of other climbers. There is tension, arguments, misunderstandings, and debates about who is really qualified to climb to the top of Everest.

No matter how many times I speak to Sherpas of different expeditions that have done the summit once, ten or twenty three times, how many documentaries I see, how many articles I read and how many interviews and statements I read from Sherpas in different media [6], I can’t find any case of any Sherpa that makes any positive and encouraging statement about this expedition.

Kami Rita Sherpa
Kami Rita Sherpa, artículo en “The Kathmandu Post”

Let’s take advantage of the case of Kami Rita Sherpa since the other day he broke a record of summiting the Mount Everest 23 times. Next, I transcribe some statements that the Sherpa guide made to the newspaper “The Kathmandu Post” (one of the well-known newspapers in Kathmandu city), published on the 16th of May of this year.

“Climbers can suddenly start quarreling and fighting. We might have to physically restrain them or even abandon them if the situation becomes perilous for others. We have to make difficult decisions, as death is certain if you make a mistake, even if you are an experienced climber”.

Dice el periódico: Despite of losing many of his Friends and colleagues to the mountain, Kami Rita has never faltered “Each and every moment on Everest is risky. But it is my job and I have to do it“.

But he is clear about one thing –his child will not be climbing Everest for a living. “We were illiterate and poor and had the mountains to help us earn a living. But now, the young generation has more options”.

One day there won’t be any Sherpas left to climb Everest, as Sherpas are in demand round the world and many of their children are now studying abroad. There are easier ways to make money than to risk one’s life on Everest.

“Modern climbing gear and technological advancements in weather prediction have made climbing easier and the rate of casualties has been declining each year. But one thing has remained constant: fear”.

No matter how experienced you are, there is always fear when climbing Everest. It really doesn’t matter how many times you might have reached the top”.

I am now going to let everyone make their own conclusions. Please, do not hesitate to investigate more about this topic. There are extremely interesting stories in the world of climbing the sacred mountain Everest, known by the Sherpa community as “Sagarmatha” or by the Tibetans as “Chomolungma”: the mother goddess protector of the earth…

Kami Rita Sherpa
Kami Rita Sherpa. Artículo en “The Kathmandu Post”

[1] This is the official height for now, but we are still waiting for the results of the new measurements that are taking place at this moment. It is believed that Everest height has been modified especially after the earthquake that shook Nepal on the 25th of April 2015.

[2] This is what is known as “death zone”, from 7000m the body sooner or later will stop working because there is not enough oxygen. No matter how fit the person is, it is a matter of time.

[3] Sherpas normally climb 3 and 4 times more than any other client climber, because they have to carry up all materials to the different camps established along the mountain, set up the tents, carry the bottles of gas up and bring them down again, carry the food and kitchen equipment to the camps and bring it back down, carry client’s materials like sleeping bags, and personal stuff etc… Considered the heroes of the mountain, without the Sherpas, a successful ascension would not be possible or would be a really challenging and complicated mission that only a few could do.

[4] Something that nowadays is creating a huge debate since the mountain is accumulating a great quantity of trash and human excrements on the Everest mountain causing a big sustainability problem and ecosystem impact.

[5] An experienced guide can earn up to $12000in one season of Everest summit. A beginner guide can earn up to $7000. High Altitude porters in Everest earn up to $4000 in a season.

[6] Very interesting to watch the documentary:Sherpas. Documentary on The True Heroes of Mount Everest”.


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and the InspireU Adventures Team


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