Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Tragedy of Everest

Yesterday, the 29th of May, was the 59th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest, by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay: a success that followed more than three decades of failed attempts and several deaths on the mountain. At the time, the first ascent was not just the superb achievement of two individuals, but a victory of humankind itself, adjusting the boundary of what was known to be possible.

About two weeks before this anniversary came the sad news that four climbers had been killed on Everest this year. The sadder news is that they died as a direct result of being delayed in an extraordinary pedestrian traffic jam on their way to the summit.

The Guardian today carried a photograph, taken by Ralf Dujmovits, showing a small section of the 600-strong queue of people attempting the climb up the Lhotse face to the South Col before heading for the summit.
Long queue of people climbing up to the South Col on Everest
Pedestrian traffic jam on Everest. Photo credit: Ralf Dujmovits.
I don't know that I have ever seen a sadder mountaineering photograph.

In other news, in the Himalaya alone there are several hundred peaks over 6000 m high that have never been climbed by any human being before. 

No comments:

Post a Comment