U.S. Air Force Capt. Colin Merrin

For many people, climbing Mount Everest is on their bucket list. It’s an ultimate dream, but not that many have the opportunity to climb the highest mountain in the world. But lately, it hasn’t been safe to climb the mountain. Mt. Everest has faced overcrowding, ultimately resulting in dehydration, exhaustion, and unfortunately, even death. But what has caused the overcrowding? Is there a way to prevent it?

Human traffic jams

According to The New York Times, Mt. Everest is now more dangerous than ever before. Nepalese officials described the human traffic jams as a human “zoo” on the mountain, with mountain climbers stacked against each other. Already in 2019, there has been a death toll of 11 hikers, surpassing last year’s death count of five.

Because more and more people are traveling to Mt. Everest, the flat part of the summit, estimated at about the size of two Ping-Pong tables, is packed with at least 300 climbers. To reach the summit, climbers must wait hours in line, chest to chest, on an icy, rocky ridge with a several-thousand-foot drop beneath them. So, what’s causing this growing problem in the first place?

Inexperienced climbers

Mt. Everest isn’t for amateurs. Veteran climbers claim there are too many inexperienced climbers attempting to climb the mountain, as well as other famous mountains, like Macchu Picchu and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Many climbers decide to make the journey to Mt. Everest on a whim, working as a “fly-by-night” adventure with untrained climbers who simply want to check the mountain off their bucket list. They don’t realize how tedious the summit is or how hazardous the climb could be to their health.

In addition, the Nepalese government has issued more permits than what Mt. Everest can safely handle, resulting in more dangerous threats. Nepal has a long record of shoddy regulations, mismanagement, and corruption. All of these reasons have resulted in a crowded scene at 29,000 feet.

Many of the deaths this year were caused by climbers getting held up in long lines, unable to get up and down fast enough to replenish their oxygen supply. One of the climbers, Arizona doctor Ed Dohring, commented that he even had to step over the body of a woman who had just died during his most recent trip up the mountain. He said, “It was scary. It was like a zoo.”

Deaths haven’t occurred so frequently on Mt. Everest since 2015 when more than 11 people were killed by an avalanche. This natural disaster is to be expected on the mountain, but overcrowding shouldn’t happen, according to experts. Unfortunately, conditions won’t improve. But is there a possible solution to the growing problem?

Increasing the laws

Currently, anyone can climb Mt. Everest and other mountains. Permits are issued without a care. Experts say only experienced, veteran climbers should attempt to climb the mountain. They’re trained for the mountain’s extreme conditions. There needs to be a call of action to changing the requirements for climbing the mountain. “It’s time to review all the old laws,” said Yagya Raj Sunuwar, a member of Nepalese Parliament.

Officials said new regulations should require climbers to have mandatory proof of good health and mountaineering experience before receiving permits. There should be no reason for 300 hikers to be climbing the same mountain all at once. The paths to the summit are too narrow and steep to allow for safe conditions. Many climbers refuse to share oxygen or water while selfishly forging forward, leaving others to be stranded for hours at a time.

Fortunately, Nepalese officials have confirmed that Mt. Everest’s current climbing season has concluded. Hopefully, officials will establish new regulations before 2020, limiting who can climb the mountain. This decision would ultimately save more lives, which should always be the goal.