After the Everest disaster in 1996, the 2019 season of climbing Everest has received a lot of criticism. 1996 was the glimpse of the beginning of a commercial era and today is the comeuppance of it. The picture shown by Nirmal Purja ( Nims Dai) also revealed the harsh reality of climbing Everest. It has led to a sudden wave of enlightenment amongst the entire world. All the Mountaineers (by mountaineers I mean who know the mountains and have good experience of climbing) know that the queue on the summit ridge of Everest is not new. It had been for over a decade now.
Since the advent of commercial climbing on Everest, there is a rise of people going to Everest. Why not, after all, it is the world’s highest mountain. For some, it gives an adrenaline rush and for some, it is about deriving the fame. Whatever could be the motive of ahead towards the Everest, it demands heavy money. The fact that an immense amount of people are paying that huge money to satisfy their desire shows that it is no more about the money. The Nepal government and agencies are benefiting from it. But most importantly, every common man can now dream of Everest.
I do not say I have enough experience to pass a verdict but I am only trying to analyse this problem of serving the desire of climbing the Everest and its possible solutions.
Commercial agencies should stop: Right from the revolution of commercial guiding on Everest, the agencies offering such services are censured the most. If there is demand in the market, satisfy that demand. This is the first principle of business. There are statements that these agencies must go against the golden business rule and take fewer clients. Why should they? Why will they? If they can earn more than expected why will they back out? I logically and practically do not see that happening. If there was a slight chance, it would have happened quite long back. Morally, however wrong it sounds, it is the dark truth and applies to every field. The only difference is in this field is that human lives are at stake. In fact, the unpropitious things are happening, over time more and more agencies are opening up. Surprisingly, they are also getting clients. So, the solution to reduce(filter) clients is not happening soon.
Also, we cannot forget that due to these organisations many of the serious mountaineers fulfil their mountaineering dreams. Not all are super ambitious or super fit to climb 8000ers in alpine style or solo like Reinhold Messner, Nims Dai, Ueli Steck and big mountaineers did.
Similarly, we cannot the Nepal government to limit the people entering their country for climbing.
Climbers should stop: Who does not like to be on the world top? If the money issue is solved and one thinks he/she can literally be on world top, why will they stop? Practically they should stop or postpone until they are fit enough no until they are the fittest. One should gain enough experience, learn a lot, practice, get physically stronger and only move to the peak. Again, with the increase of novice, inexperienced climbers show that nobody has the patience to do that. The crowd is ready to risk their life but not ready to prepare hard. Let us also put that they think that they are fit enough to climb that scary peak. Probably there is a lack of awareness or instances of the successful summit of a previous novice climber. Whatever may be the factors that lead to this belief that “I am fit enough to climb Everest”. It is extremely strong. Strong enough to overcome the fear of losing life out of inexperience.
Again, if the climbers are ready to put their lives at risk, nobody else can question their desire. And asking people to give away their dream is unfair. Even if it right.
Choose other summit windows: Other possible solutions are to climb up at the less favourable window to avoid traffic. That is a call to take by the expedition leader, climbers of the team and the agency members. Pertaining to hazardous dangers of weather, winds and altitude of Everest, people completely rely on that clear window. In that short time of safe weather, thousands of people head upwards. Choosing a less favourable time also means risk. It depends on the people climbing to decide whether this risk is better than getting stuck in traffic and losing life.
Choose other climbing routes: The basic principle of mountaineering is going up through safe and energy saving route. The Nepal route is considered easiest, ruling out the Khumbhu icefall section. All the climbers choosing to climb Everest, voluntarily choose Nepal. We cannot force anyone to climb through other routes.
Well, all this has led me to interpret that Traffic jam on Everest could be the next NP problem! The ideal solutions are not working in the real world. Along with deaths on Everest, there had been striking summits too. If they can do it all can do it. What different did they do?
Choosing to the summit when no one else is heading to the top, coming physically prepared with enough experience to overcome the queue of tired humans on the lifeline, listening to own body and returning before its too late, keeping human life over anything else. This gives a ray of hope. I believe the only answer to climbing Everest or any other mountain is being a Human first.
Everest is a dream. But, ask yourself is that dream worth life of people? Your one decision of postponing the climb when you are the strongest can save so many lives. More importantly, it will also save your life too. If others are in the death zone, you yourself are too. The strong climber will overcome you and come back down safely, are you capable of bringing yourself down?
In the same way, the agencies must take responsibility for the Sherpas working for them. Instead of hiring Sherpas for clients who would definitely risk their lives, do not accept the client. Make it clear to the clients that only the fittest survive in the mountains.
No problem in the real world could be unsolvable unless we are willing to solve it. The solution to Traffic Jam on Everest lies within!
PS: We should act faster because the same can be seen on Lohtse face too. It is happening gradually on every popular peak on Earth.