A person’s bucket list is often a culmination of their hopes and dreams.
And when they are achieved, it’s like being on top of the world.
Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, is located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas and hiking to its summit—a whopping 29,029 feet above sea level—is on the bucket lists of many.
But the trek is no amateur feat and in a breaking story released this week, its dangerous conditions have yet again proved fatal.
“For the 11th time this spring season, Mount Everest has tragically claimed a climber’s life.
On Monday, Nepalese officials confirmed that Christopher John Kulish of Colorado had died while descending the 29,035-foot mountain”
Kulish was an avid climber and once he reached the top of Mt. Everest, he became a member of the prestigious “7 Summit Club”—those who have climbed the highest peaks in every continent around the world.
Kulish’s brother, Mark Kulish, said in a statement that, “He saw his last sunrise from the highest peak on Earth. At that instant, he became a member of the ‘7 Summit Club,’ having scaled the highest peak on each continent.”
It is suspected that Kulish passed while descending the summit where oxygen levels are fatally low.
Kulish’s death comes shortly after another fatality, that of British climber Robin Haynes Fisher, 41, who also died from a lack of oxygen on the difficult descent.
This risky area has come to be known by locals and hiking enthusiasts as the “death zone,” according to Murari Sharma who works for Everest Parivar Treks, the company that arranged the logistics for Fisher’s hike.
Even the guide who accompanied Fisher on the arduous journey, Jangbu Sherpa, became ill during the descent and had to be taken to a camp at a lower altitude to recover.
Most of Mt. Everest’s guides consist of the Sherpa people who are native to the Himalayas.
But if even the Sherpa people—who have survived for centuries living here—are suffering, it should be a red flag that hiking to the summit of Mt. Everest may not be best at this time.
Due to poor weather conditions and heavy traffic of climbers, people have been forced to wait up to three hours near the Hillary Step where exhausted and oxygen-depleted mountaineers sat in a single-file line waiting to descend, according to ABC News.
Desperate people were said to have been pleading with other climbers to let them get by because their supplemental oxygen had already run out during the long waits.
This overcrowding of trails has become a growing concern as a record number of climbers are attempting the hike of a lifetime.
Peak season (no pun intended) for Mt. Everest is April and May, during which all 11 deaths have occurred.
But Mt. Everest isn’t the only mountain to claim lives in the Himalayas this year.
According to The Himalayan Times, “There have been 11 total deaths on Mount Everest, four on Mt. Makalu, three on Mt. Kanchenjunga, and one each on Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Annapurna and Mt. Cho Oyu.”
Could these deaths have been prevented?
Nepal issued 367 permits to foreigners and 14 to Nepalese climbers, and that doesn’t include the guides who take the groups up.
But those responsible for the safe management of Mt. Everest and its brave mountaineers are saying they have no intentions of limiting the number of climbers in the wake of the recent deaths.
They only vowed to provide more rope in the coming years to accommodate the growing amount of hikers.
Mohan Krishna Sapkota, secretary of the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, told the Associated Press, “In the next season we will work to have double rope in the area below the summit so there is better management of the flow of climbers.”
However, some believe certain physical requirements should be met in order to be permitted to hike the summit, just like there are for the Boston Marathon and the Ironman World Championship.
This would make a lot of sense considering how much physical strain is put on climbers bodies due to harsh weather, lack of oxygen, and hazardous terrain.
And while all of this does not mean you have to cross this lifelong dream off your bucket list, it’s vital to understand the severity of the journey.
Rigorous training and proper gear are a necessary part of any climb and attempting Mt. Everest is no different.
Witnessing the beauty below from atop the highest mountain in the world is a feat only the best of the best can attest to.
But there’s no one saying you can’t be next—just don’t trade your life for it.
Please let us know in the comments section what were the highest mountains you have hiked and if you endured any complications along the way.