News / Asia

Climbing Mount Everest Becomes More Commonplace

A team of climbers, including 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura, stand on the summit of Mount Everest, in this photo taken by Kyodo, May 23, 2013.
A team of climbers, including 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura, stand on the summit of Mount Everest, in this photo taken by Kyodo, May 23, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Mike Richman
Sixty years ago, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the top of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak. Their climb took seven weeks, much longer than today’s journeys up the Himalayan mountain.

But conquering Everest is not as daunting as it once was.

Frits Vrijlandt, head of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, scaled Mount Everest in 2000. He estimated that 100 people climbed the mountain each year back then, compared to about 500 a year now.

Droves of people are conquering the mountain, Vrijlandt said, largely because it is much easier to do so. He said expedition companies fix ropes from base camp to the summit along the two main routes on the mountain - one on the Nepalese side and the other on the Tibetan side. Also, Nepalese sherpas help climbers by carrying food, tents, ladders and oxygen.

Famed mountaineer Reinhold Messner, in comparison, once conquered Everest by himself without supplemental oxygen.

Inexperienced climbers on Everest

Today, Vrijlandt said, some people who scale the 8,850-meter peak have no climbing experience.

“I made a remark that I’ve seen people who have never been climbing on ice, they only know ice from the ice cubes in their drinks," Vrijlandt said. "That [Those] kind of people, I’m not sure if they belong on the mountain. But if they put some effort in and gain experience by climbing 6,000- or 7,000-meter peaks in Nepal or abroad, then it will be better preparation, and they will be more ready for climbing Mount Everest.”

According to Vrijlandt, the mystique of climbing the mountain is fading.

“It’s still an achievement and it’s still the largest mountain in the world, but to be clear, it’s still possible to die up there because it’s an extreme high mountain," Vrijlandt said. "But mystique, yes, I think if all those people without any experience and with so much help, yes, part of the mystique is lost.”

The head of a Himalayan expedition company, Iswari Paudel, agreed that the climb has become less challenging.

“But now so many things are changing," Paudel said. "So this is every year getting quite easier than like many years before, so there’s more chances to get to the top.”

Many records being set

The aid available to climbers has opened doors to setting records on Everest.  Many marks were established this year alone in peak climbing season in May.

An 80-year-old Japanese man who Vrijlandt said had up to 20 sherpas helping him became the oldest person to climb Everest. Vrilandt called that more of a "team achievement” than a “personal achievement.”

Other record-setters include the first double amputee, the first female amputee, the first Saudi and Pakistani women, the first twins, and the first person to climb Everest from both sides in the same season.

To Paudel, such feats are inspiring.  

“So many records the last month, which happened on Everest, which is good," Paudel said.  "People who climb without one hand or without two hands or without one leg or without two legs, some with no eyes, so many records we have, which encourages even the disabled people they can climb Everest, if they have the support they can achieve the mission, which is good for those people.”

Vrijlandt, however, is cynical about the records.

“It’s getting more and more almost crazy to find a record that has not been done yet," Vrijlandt said. "I don’t think Mount Everest should be a mountain for setting all kinds of records, the youngest person, the oldest person, whatever you can imagine. The first twins have been up now. I don’t think those kind of competing games should be on the mountain.”  

So many things are different about Everest since Hillary and Norgay climbed it in 1953. But one thing remains the same: the mountain still offers a breathtaking view from the top.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Pradeep Deo
July 16, 2013 3:45 PM
The mystique seems to be fading... We may see daily trips being organised to the summit shortly.....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid