Death and Debris at 30,000 Feet

On the podcast: An American adventurer describes climbing over bodies to reach the top of Mount Everest.

By , the executive editor for podcasts at Foreign Policy.
Climbers line a path on Mount Everest in Nepal on May 22. Rizza Alee/AP
Climbers line a path on Mount Everest in Nepal on May 22. Rizza Alee/AP
Climbers line a path on Mount Everest in Nepal on May 22. Rizza Alee/AP

At least 11 people have died this year trying to reach the top of Mount Everest, one of the tallest summits in the world. Overcrowding on the mountain has caused human traffic jams along the narrow ridge leading to the top, contributing to the high death toll.

New Zealand’s Edmund Hillary and his Nepalese guide, Tenzing Norgay, were the first people confirmed to have reached the top of Everest in 1953. In the decades that followed, only the most experienced climbers set out for the summit, often after years of training.

But the 1990s brought the commercial era to the mountain—with catastrophic results at times. Hundreds of people have died over the years.

At least 11 people have died this year trying to reach the top of Mount Everest, one of the tallest summits in the world. Overcrowding on the mountain has caused human traffic jams along the narrow ridge leading to the top, contributing to the high death toll.

New Zealand’s Edmund Hillary and his Nepalese guide, Tenzing Norgay, were the first people confirmed to have reached the top of Everest in 1953. In the decades that followed, only the most experienced climbers set out for the summit, often after years of training.

But the 1990s brought the commercial era to the mountain—with catastrophic results at times. Hundreds of people have died over the years.

Woody Hartman, a 35-year-old Lyft executive from San Francisco, reached the summit last month—but he had to climb over dead bodies to do so. He’s our guest this week on First Person.

Tag: Nepal

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