Mount Everest death toll rises to 11
KATHMANDU, NEPAL — An American lawyer died Monday while descending Mount Everest, marking the 11th death so far this year.
Another American, three Indians, two British, and two Irish climbers died while climbing the Nepali side of the summit.
Two others died on the Tibetan route.
According to the BBC, the average annual death rate for Everest climbers remained at about six over the past two decades.
So why is the 2019 climbing season that much more deadly?
The New York Times reports that while May is the best time of the year to climb Mount Everest, there are only a certain number of days when the winds are mild and it is clear enough to summit.
Danduraj Ghimire, director general of Nepal's Department of Tourism attributes the large number of Everest deaths this year to fewer good weather days - just five in 2019 compared with between seven to 12 in recent years.
Another critical issue is overcrowding.
The government issued a record number of 381 permits in 2019, a number which does not yet include guides.
During the week of May 20, crowds of climbers were stuck in a queue on the single route to the summit, a narrow ridge known as the "death zone."
CNN reports the Everest summit is at an elevation where each breath contains only ⅓ of the oxygen at sea level.
Most people can only spend minutes at the summit without extra supplies.
According to Sherpas and climbers, some of those who died had been held up in the long lines, and could not ascend and descend fast enough to replenish their oxygen.
Others were inexperienced climbers led by equally inexperienced guides, while still others were simply not fit enough to be on the summit.
The BBC reports that experienced mountaineers have long suggested the Nepalese government to impose certain requirements for climbers, in the interest of safety.
But safety on the mountain, according to Nepali officials, is the responsibility of the trekking companies, many of which are also shady and unqualified.