- The latest internet storm is the couple who clicked some lovely marriage pictures on Mount Everest.
- Why must you come to one of the world's most inhospitable environments for the bragging rights of a single picture?
- Perhaps it is time to seriously limit the number of climbers on the slopes, to preserve the mountain from damage
It may come as a surprise to many, but an unavoidable part of that magical Everest climb that so many are choosing to make nowadays are the various bodies scattered around the peak. The cold temperatures and ice mummify them, and it is too much effort to bring them back down. So they just lay where they had fallen, grisly path markers.
The bodies are an eye-opener. Climbing Everest is not a fun jaunt for tourists. However, it is also interesting that the death rate has not increased over the years, despite a steep rise in the number of climbers. 600 people reached the summit in 2016, and some seven of whom perished. Technically, it has never been safer to climb Everest.
This is bad news for the Mountain, which suffers greatly from all of this human safety.
National Geographic noted - "The two standard routes, the Northeast Ridge and the Southeast Ridge, are not only dangerously crowded but also disgustingly polluted, with garbage leaking out of the glaciers and pyramids of human excrement befouling the high camps," The Independent reported - "...human waste being deposited in holes dug in the snow has been piling up for the last four years."
Such sights and the huge piles of trash are an ugly stain on the mountain-side, which is often portrayed as the last true 'frontier' left on Earth. And while such details are carefully edited out of the lovely photos and wedding albums being made, the reality of Everest cannot be denied - piles of trash and human excrement, bodies and a rapidly deteriorating ecology, buckling under the twin pressures of climate change and human presence.
According to a report in the Guardian, "some glaciers on or around Mount Everest had shrunk by 13% in the last 50 years with the snow line 180 metres higher than it was 50 years ago." This should worry us deeply.
And that is just the environmental damage. The very experience of climbing the summit itself is under threat too. 600 people climbed Everest last year, almost all of them during the 'window', in May. There is no stronger indication that Everest has been over-commercialized than the sight of long lines of climbers, waiting for the 'jam' to clear, so each one of them can symbolically stand on the peak of Mount Everest for a few seconds.
The latest internet storm is the couple who clicked some lovely marriage pictures on Mount Everest. Their physical dedication to climbing to 17,000 feet for the breath-taking pictures is admirable. However, it does seem to set an odd example. Why must you come to one of the world's most inhospitable environments, spending more than Rs 50 lakh, for the bragging rights of a single picture?
Think of the logistics - the petrol and kerosene, the food parcels and human faeces, the tents and oxygen canisters and so on, the sheer effort and energy that has gone into that one snap. Now multiply whatever that number is by several hundred, and multiply that by several decades in years, and you can being to appreciate the staggering consumption and waste even a single such photo op is.
Long before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, climber George Mallory tried to climb Everest. When he was asked why he would attempt such a dangerous climb, he famously replied - "because it's there,"
One of the last photos of George Mallory, on Everest in 1924. He was famous for the quote, "Because it's there." His body was found in 1999 pic.twitter.com/oJKXQrgY0Q— Kristina Blankenship (@AgateHuntress) April 5, 2017
He vanished in his attempt in 1924. They found his body in 1999. Perhaps a lesson to us all. Let us not do it just because 'it's there,"
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:44 PM IST