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.
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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More