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Editorial: Risks of climbing and High Altitude climbing ...


"Climbing can kill you," as Gary Neptune puts it so well. High Altitude Mountaineering, such as climbing Everest and these other 8000 meter peaks is an extremely dangerous activities, where people die every year. Frankly we cannot think of any more dangerous activity on earth! Have some climbers like Mike Matthews traveled to Everest not knowing the risks? We did not speak to Mike before he went, so we have no idea what Mike knew or did not know. But, yes some climbers appear not to understand the risks, or do not take them seriously. "It just happens to people who make mistakes."

There are so many ways one can die on Everest. In 2002 Babu Chiri Sherpa, probably the strongest Everest climber ever, died simply by stepping in the wrong place and falling into a crevasse.

Weather: The weather on Everest arguably has caused more deaths than any other factor besides bad judgment by climbers. At least two sources have asked EverestNews.com to post "free" weather reports to climbers. We followed both reports in 2000, and they were horrible. Some climbers appear to rely on these reports or none at all. Some expeditions commercial expeditions use the costly Bracknell reports. The Bracknell reports have proved reliable for these commercial expeditions on Everest, but one should note they are forecasts too, and one day their forecast will probably be wrong too.

Oxygen: A handful of climbers who are not happy with some of the oxygen supplied. We have investigated and investigated this. Much of the oxygen used on Everest is "re-filled bottles", however, we have found no EVIDENCE that this oxygen is bad. Yes, oxygen systems have failed and COULD CAUSE YOU TO DIE ON Everest. Oxygen systems with new bottles as well as re-filled bottles have failed. No known death has been proven to be caused by an oxygen supply to our knowledge. However, if you get up high and your system fails you could die.

Judgment: Many die on Everest because they are too slow on Summit day and are late to the Summit. That statement does not sounds good, but frankly is true. Many of these climbers are caught in afternoon storms on Everest on the way down. Were their weather forecasts wrong?

Falls and Avalanches: Continue to cause death on mountains, and probably always will.

More than 3,000 people, and counting, have died in Nepal in the fighting since the rebels, who draw their inspiration from Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Tse-tung, began fighting in 1996 from remote mountainous areas. Many ask us, is it too dangerous to go to Nepal? Well the who's who, of Mountaineering are going this year [2003] as you can see.... But everyone has their own risk level. What is your risk level?

More Americans will die in the city in car accidents, many by caused by drunks or crimes, than will die in Pakistan or Nepal in Spring 2002 due to terror. But is it safe? Everyone has to make their own judgment on the risks they are willing to take. The dastardly and barbaric killing of those in Pakistan recently are horrible acts, that cannot be justified for any reasons. These acts have hurt those in Nepal and Pakistan greatly. What a shame. 

Mountaineering is an extremely high risk activity where people die every year. The RISKS are high. Traveling is a risk even to grandmother's house... When traveling, we feel you have to judge for yourself based on your level of risk you are willing to take.

We asked Steve Bell president of the IGO 8000 for a comment. His reply might shock you! "One of the main aims of IGO 8000 is to help make climbers aware of these dangers.  That's why they insist on a certain level of mountaineering experience as a requirement for joining an Everest climb.  It is simply not possible to know what its like to be on Everest unless you're been to high altitude before, and many people attempting Everest haven't been above 6000 meters.  Just because you can run 100 meters doesn't mean you know what's like to run a marathon; the only thing that's the same is some of the equipment - beyond that, its a whole new game.  Whether IGO is successful in getting its message across will be measured by future statistics, but with the way things are at the moment, it is only a matter of time before we see another 1996."

 




 

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