Three more climbers have died on Mount Everest, taking the death toll to seven in a week – more than the total for the whole of last year.

“The three died of exhaustion while descending on Thursday.

It comes amid traffic jams near the summit as record numbers make the ascent, despite calls to limit the number of climbing permits.

Nepal has issued 381 permits at $11,000 (£8,600) each for the spring climbing season at the world’s highest peak.

Two Indian climbers – Kalpana Das, 52, and Nihal Bagwan, 27 – died while scaling back down the mountain on Thursday.

Three more climbers have died on Mount Everest, taking the death toll to seven in a week – more than the total for the whole of last year.

.” BBC News

Again tragedy has struck the mountain and when you see the photos of the queues on the ridge it makes me shudder. 

The BBC article tries to  explain why some of the accidents happen. Yet at these great heights even the best get caught out and if you add too many on the same route/ rope and so many varying  degrees of experience and competence it can be a disaster waiting to happen.

I was lucky to part of an unguided team that went from Tibet in 2001.

The ascent from the North Tibet is in my mind a lot safer as there is no ice fall to go through. Yet there were tragedies when we were on the hill.

We were all great pals and knew each other for many years and our limitations and strengths. 

On our trip there were a sadly few deaths on the mountain and they all happened high up.

I could see then how some people treat this incredible mountain it is a huge peak with lots of problems.

I was lucky to be with a strong team of pals and 6 great Sherpa’s. We assisted on several Rescues as did our Sherpa’s and others .

My job was the Base Camp Manager and I had a lot  on but we assisted with the Rescues when we could and I was lucky that there were other extremely strong teams on the mountain who saved lives very high up.

One team led by Eric Simenson –   The 2001 Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition which conducted the world’s highest archaeology project and culminated with the accomplishment of the highest mountaineering rescue in history. They had some of the most accomplished high altitude climbers on their trip and helped save lives. They did several Rescues above 8000 metres which were incredible well worth reading about these Rescues.  There are a limited few who can cope with this at the extreme altitudes.


There were also a few operators working on very tight budgets and limited experience.

We regularly helped where we could but in the end we had only enough spare equipment I. E Oxygen if we had a snag to our own team.

As we had a Doctor/ Climber Brian Kirkpatrick he was a busy man all the time  and a great Doctor and mountaineer.

At the end of the expedition our boys we were the only ones left on the mountain as three of our team tried again to get the summit after Dan and Rusty’s ascent.

All the other teams had left after a big storm, the place was deserted. I had a worrying few days at ABC the weather was so bad we feared for our team. I doubt if anything could have been done if they had a problem.

I was so glad when we heard they were coming down and watching the descent down the North Col alone on that huge face was scary.

When they came down it was only me at Advanced Base Camp at 21300 feet. The rest of the team were a day away at Base most were totally exhausted from the Expedition.

The North Col.

The next day I went to the North Col over 7000 metres to help the Sherpa’s clear the hill.

I would be the only non Sherpa up there it was an incredible experience and made my trip.  Going up that tattered fixed rope on that mountain was an experience that few ever get and to be there without the crowds was my summit.

That was one of the most incredible places to be alone as the Sherpa’s cleared the hill. Everyone was gone yet we were still there.

The true heroes of Everest. Our great team of Sherpas.

Yet Everest is a wonderful place I went into the West ridge alone twice earlier on and  found the old camps that the 1930 expeditions used and met only two Americans who were trying the North Face. They were alone and the scale of the of this face is incredible.

This huge Face is another side of the Mountain that few see. On the normal route it is hidden from view and you can see why the original expeditions went this way thinking this was the key to climbing the route.

The Huge North Face

This was what this mountain meant to me and many other its so big and wonderful and yet so peaceful.

I had no thought of the summit just to be there was my summit.  Everest away from the crowds is magical it was superb, now it seems even an ascent from Tibet to be a different place. The huge interest in climbing the worlds highest mountain by so many who have the cash!

At the end of the trip we cleaned up the Advanced Base Camp while the rest of the team down nearly 4000 feet below at Base Camp.

After a few days I left early at first light and walked down ahead alone to Base Camp it was along  6 hour trip.  I was now well acclimatised after 3 months in this place.  It snowed and the weather was poor, yet you felt really strange on a trail of new snow cover with no one about.

Now and then the North Ridge and the summits would clear and you could see the pinnacles it was a marvellous sight.

I could drink this place in for the last time and though not getting high on the mountain it had been some trip.

Approach to the North Col

Few will ever experience what I felt that day even those who summit . This to me was Everest and its sad to see what is happening on the mountain and how many lives are lost.

Many are chasing a dream a tick list and few would make anywhere near this place without the huge support of the Guides and Sherpa’s.

Yet it will continue to pull people their dreams and many more will lose their lives for what.

Sadly things will have to be sorted by the Nepal and Tibetan authorities  the numbers cut down. I wonder if things will change and what would the effect be on the economies of these Countries.

Yet those who will continue to chase the mad rush for this the ultimate summit will they accept this, I wonder?

I have just heard that two more have died one from Ireland and the other from the UK.

As ever my thoughts are with the families and those on the hill.

Sad times indeed.





About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Himalayas/ Everest, History, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to More sad news from Everest – Queues, Deaths and questions.

  1. ptsd17 says:

    It was mentioned this morning that a growing number of people climbing Everest have never worn crampons before!! Who’s allowing these people to climb?

    Liked by 1 person

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