Mount Everest Might Be in Danger of Overcrowding Again

In 2019, the year a photo of a bottleneck at the summit went viral, 381 foreign climbers ascended the mountain. This year, 300 are scheduled to climb.

Snow capped Mount Everest photographed from far away overlooking other peaks under a blue sky
Mount Everest is open again, but is it safe?
Andreas Gäbler/Unsplash

In 2019, observers of the conditions on Mount Everest raised an alarm about overcrowding on the mountain, something believed to have contributed to a number of climbing deaths there. Nepal announced new regulations last year, but held off on implementing them immediately. That was before the full scope of the pandemic was clear, however, and eventually the climbing season was canceled.

As certain parts of the globe begin to reopen, parts of Everest are seeing an uptick in climbers. This is largely from the Nepal side; China is being more cautious when it comes to accessing the mountain. But as a new article at The Washington Post explains, the increased activity on the mountain is bringing back the same overcrowding concerns that worried so many people in 2019.

According to the article, 381 foreign climbers attempted to climb Everest in 2019 — a record number, and one that also came with a significant human cost in the form of 11 deaths. This year, Nepalese tourism official Mira Acharya stated that the number of climbers will be lower, but not by much; 300 foreign climbers are expected.

The Post reports that one tour company has nixed plans to take climbers up the mountain this year due to safety concerns. However, climbing Everest is also a component of the local economy — so the mountain being closed off is causing locals who work in industries benefited by tourism to suffer. It’s a frustratingly complex situation for nearly everyone involved.


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