Jamling Tenzing Norgay: Jams choke Mt Everest. But these people aren't true climbers. They want heaters on the peak
Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of Tenzing Norgay, the legendary Sherpa who ascended Mt Everest in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary, spoke with Rohit E David on why there is such a dangerous rush to climb the peak.
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The craze to conquer Mount Everest, and the glory which comes with it, is definitely tempting adventurers around the world. Today, the Everest can be scaled by anyone who wants to climb it — and not by the best mountaineers. Since 1922, till date in fact, 307 people have died climbing the Everest — this year itself, 10, including two Indians, have perished.
Anjali Kulkarni had trained for six years to make it to the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world. On May 23 this year, she made it to the top — but it was the descent that killed her, not because she slipped but the huge jam on the Everest itself and a consequent energy loss caused her death.
Tragic Loss: Anjali Kulkarni died after she was not able come down from the Everest in time. (Photo: ANI)
The problem arises when climbers have to stand in a queue for around two to three hours — this leads to a wastage of body heat and oxygen which the mountaineer is carrying in a cylinder. Now, they are holding ropes — if one person falls, and the safety ropes fail, then everyone else will fall too, leading to accidents and even deaths.
Till the 1970s, the Nepalese government gave permits to only 20 people to climb the famed peak — but now, this has risen to 380-plus.
When we talk about 380 permits, it means that for every one climber, one Sherpa will also be there — that means the number of people climbing the mountain will be 760. Out of these 760, roughly 200 try to ascend and descend whenever there is an opportunity due to weather conditions. The government has not not put restrictions on the number of people climbing the mountain. Since 1999, the average number of people climbing the mountain has been 350; this is from both the north and south side. Until the 1970s, the maximum in one season would be 20 — in the 1990s, the number rose to 60.
In fact, May is considered to be the in-season and there are only four to five days for climbers to scale the Everest. The government needs to put a cap on the number of permits given to climbers each year.
Everest has become commercial — it’s a big money-making business. The government charges $11,000 per person to give the permit, tour operators are bringing in foreign clients, local expeditions, so in reality, they end up paying anywhere between $30,000-40,000 to climb the Everest.
With 760 people getting permits to climb the Everest, the highest peak in the world has also become the dirtiest peak.
This year, the Nepalese government concluded its clean-up drive of Mount Everest — and said it had collected nearly 11 tonnes of trash that had piled up on the peak for decades.
Trash on the mountain is enormous. There is a lot of human waste on the Everest. Imagine 1200-1500 people at the base camp, then 800 people on camp 2. One can spot a lot of debris, bottles, oxygen cylinders, bags and even bodies on the world’s highest mountain.
Before the expedition starts, the local sherpas spend time before each climbing season, setting up ropes, ladders, and other equipment along the route to make it easier to ascend.
The climbers don’t treat the sherpas the way they should. Today, they make meals for you, they carry your equipment, bottles, oxygen cylinders and bring the climbers to the tent. People who have money tend to take two sherpas, the climbers want personal guides, even heaters — now climbing has become a joke!
They're climbers, not your personal staff: Despite their huge skills, Sherpas are not treated properly by climbers. (Photo: PTI)
The attitude of mountaineers has changed since my father had first climbed the Everest. My father was passionate for what he did — they were, in fact, true pioneers, my father found the route. Now, anyone who has money can climb the Everest, they are not passionate. People only want to register their names amongst those who have climbed the Everest.
(As told to Rohit E David)