Mt. Everest Death Toll Rises to 11 for the 2019 Climbing Season
An American attorney and mountaineer died on Monday after summiting Mount Everest, bringing the death toll for the 2019 climbing season to 11 people. Christopher John Kulish, 62, died shortly after reaching the top of Everest on the Nepalese side of the mountain. During his descent, it was reported Kulish suddenly passed away on Monday evening. Monday also saw the death of an Austrian climber Ernst Landgraf, hours after fulfilling his dream of scaling Everest. Last week, Utah resident Don Cash, 55, died in his descent as well.
Both instances have caused for renewed concern over the safety of attempting to summit one of the tallest mountains in the world. Over the past several years, Mt. Everest has become increasingly overcrowded, with some routes becoming so packed, causing climbers to become stuck on dangerous areas of the mountain. Due to overcrowding, climbers are becoming stuck on the “death zone,” a place near the summit where people can only spend a few minutes unless they have extra oxygen supplies.
This, coupled with inexperienced climbers have made Mt. Everest an increasingly deadly climb this year. Seasoned climbers call any part of the mountain above 26,000 feet an area where humans are just not meant to exist. Even if climbers use supplemental oxygen, humans can only survive a few hours before their bodies begin to shut down. If caught in a traffic jam at these elevation levels, a climb like this can quickly become deadly.
Nearly 400 climbers have been permitted to scale Everest from Nepal’s side of the mountain this climbing season. Due to poor weather conditions, it has forced many of these climbers to attempt this climb in just a few select days, causing overcrowding and long summit queues.
More than 200 climbers have died on the peak of Everest since 1922, since the first deaths’ of Everest were recorded. Many of these bodies are believed to still remain beneath buried glaciers and snow, with extreme weather making it too difficult for mountaineering groups to transport the dead off the mountain.