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Death on Everest

On the podcast: An American mountaineer describes the dangers of climbing the world’s tallest peak.

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

This past spring, at least 11 people died trying to reach the top of Mount Everest, the tallest summit in the world. Overcrowding on the mountain 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 Lyft executive from San Francisco, joined a mountaineering team in the Himalayas back in May. He reached the summit but found himself climbing over dead bodies to do so.

Hartman joined us on First Person in June. This is a rebroadcast of our conversation.



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