Too many climbers on Everest, say experts

Queue for the top: On 22 May, around 300 people waited for three hours to reach Everest’s peak.

Should we stop climbing the world’s tallest mountain? This photo of tourists waiting to reach its peak has gone viral. Mountaineers say traffic is not just annoying — it can be deadly.

What’s happening

In 1923, a journalist asked the explorer George Mallory why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. “Because it’s there,” he replied simply. He died trying to reach the top, but his words are immortal.

Now, experts say too many people are climbing Everest each year. They warn that it is too dangerous.

Find out more

At 8,848m, Everest is the world’s tallest mountain. It straddles the border of Nepal and China. Temperatures can drop to -60C.

Most climbers attempt to scale the mountain during May, when it is a little warmer (but still below freezing!).

This year, a record 810 people climbed Everest. A photograph of hundreds of tourists waiting to reach the summit went viral online.

This can be very dangerous. At such high altitudes, the air becomes too thin. The body cannot get enough oxygen.

Eleven people died climbing Everest this year. Nine of those people had altitude sickness. Is it time to stop?

Some say…

Yes. Tourists say that the summit has become littered with rubbish and plastic bottles. Worse still, the traffic delays may be causing people to get frostbite and altitude sickness. Climbing Everest is not worth the risk just “because it’s there”.

Others think…

Mallory was right. Climbing Everest is part “of man’s desire to conquer the universe”. It may not always be logical, but this romantic ambition is what makes us human. We should make Everest safer, but we should not stop people from climbing it.

You Decide

  1. Would you rather climb Mount Everest or go deep-sea diving?

Activities

  1. Do you agree with Edmund Hillary’s words at the end of this article? As a class, take it in turns to list reasons why people decide to climb mountains.

Some People Say...

“Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons.”

Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb Everest

What do you think?

Word Watch

Immortal
Never dying.
Straddles
Extend across both sides.
Scale
Climb.
Summit
The highest point of a mountain.
Viral
On the internet, “going viral” means being shared lots of times.
Altitudes
Heights.
Oxygen
The gas that animals breathe to survive. It normally makes up 20% of the air around us.
Frostbite
The damage which is caused to your skin if it freezes.
Conquer
Take control of.

Subjects

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