‘It Was Like a Zoo’: Death on an Unruly, Overcrowded Everest – New York Times, 26 May 2019, Kai Schultz, Jeffrey Gettleman, Mujib Mashal and Bhadra Sharma
Bucket lists fuel extreme over-tourism
“NEW DELHI — Ed Dohring, a doctor from Arizona, had dreamed his whole life of reaching the top of Mount Everest. But when he summited a few days ago, he was shocked by what he saw. Climbers were pushing and shoving to take selfies. The flat part of the summit, which he estimated at about the size of two Ping-Pong tables, was packed with 15 or 20 people. To get up there, he had to wait hours in a line, chest to chest, one puffy jacket after the next, on an icy, rocky ridge with a several-thousand foot drop. He even had to step around the body of a woman who had just died.”
Through the WI Lens
The increasingly crowded quest to summit Everest is an extreme example of over-tourism. What was once a singular achievement, an ascent to the remotest spot on earth, has become an unseemly melee of humans scrambling over each other to reach the top. This article highlights not only the changing nature of the experience, and the lethal risks involved, but also the lack of care climbers increasingly show for those in trouble as they pursue their own fulfillment. The numbers ascending could, of course, be more rigorously controlled by Nepalese authorities if they chose to; and likewise those wishing to climb could be more stringently vetted. But the wider lesson is that travel companies, and all those involved in exploration and adventure, need to think outside the box a little more. There are many other mountains, many other challenges that could provide the same fulfillment. Sailing around the world is arguably more difficult and has been achieved by fewer people – and you’re never going to run into a crowd. Bucket list culture has led to the situation on Everest; it’s time to look beyond the obvious challenges and help people to fulfil their dreams in greater harmony with the planet.
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