Climbing Mount Everest is always an extreme challenge. But experts say tackling the world’s highest peak—located in Asia on the border between Nepal and China—became much, much riskier this year.
That’s because of a huge increase in the number of climbers allowed on the mountain, which recently led to deadly human traffic jams along the stretch to the top. At 29,029 feet, Everest is so high that humans must rely on bottled oxygen to breathe near the summit. Stuck waiting for hours in lines to reach Everest’s peak, some climbers ran low on oxygen. That was likely a key factor in many of the at least 11 deaths on the mountain this year.
Most people start their climbs from Nepal. One of the poorest nations in Asia, Nepal relies heavily on money from Everest expeditions. Its government issued more permits to climb the mountain in 2019 than ever before—many to inexperienced climbers, experts say.
In response to a global outcry following one of the deadliest Everest seasons on record, officials in Nepal say they may start requiring climbers to prove their experience.