The reward for climbers who ascend Mount Everest is a view like none other, an expansive vista of the Himalayas from the highest point on the planet. On Wednesday, those who made it to the top saw something else: Hundreds of other climbers.
The final leg of their journey to the summit was a traffic jam of trekkers enticed by good weather, the route clogged by a single-file march of 250 to 300 people along a precarious cliff that caused delays of about three hours.
Rush due to good weather
Nivesh Karki, the manager of Pioneer Adventures, attributed the congestion at the summit to good weather. The frequently changing conditions mean that there is often only a small window of time for climbing, so on Wednesday, more groups than usual chose to push ahead rather than wait and risk harsh weather. "It was such a clear day, everyone was rushing to the summit," he said.
"Once the weather is bad, no one can summit. So in good weather, everyone will try to go for the summit."
'There is always risk'
Karki said the crowding on the mountain increased the peril for all climbers, even under normal circumstances. Two climbers are believed to have died on Everest last week: An Indian man was found dead in his tent and an Irishman went missing after a fall.
"This is a huge problem because the route is already dangerous, and there is always risk," he said. "And a lot of traffic makes the journey quite difficult."
But despite the risks, Everest has grown increasingly crowded. In 2018, a record number of climbers made it to the summit, according to figures from Alan Arnette, who chronicles the journeys of climbers on the mountain on his blog.
16 dead this season
Nearly 80 Indian climbers were allowed to scale Mount Everest this season, the highest in a list of 381 international expeditioners permitted to climb the world's highest peak, an official said Friday.
Eight Indian mountaineers have died during their expedition to the world's highest peak during this season.
A total of 16 climbers have died on Mount Everest this season.
Indian climbers get maximum permits
Indian climbers topped the list of Mount Everest aspirants this spring as 78 Indian nationals were granted permission to climb the 8,848-meter peak from the Nepalese side, Mira Acharya, Director Department of Tourism.
Hundreds of climbers flock each year to Nepal - home to several of the world's highest mountains, to scale the Himalayan peaks during the spring season that begins around March and ends in June.
Nearly 6,000 climbers have scaled the summit since Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first conquered Mount Everest in 1953.