A British man has died on Mount Everest amid fears of overcrowding, as a record number of people attempt to climb the tallest mountain in the world.
Robin Fisher, 44, made it to the summit Saturday morning, but collapsed after 150 meters on the trek down. His Sherpa attempted to wake him up to change his oxygen and give him water, but was unsuccessful.
“Our guides tried to help but he died soon after,” Murari Sharma of Everest Parivar Expedition told the BBC.
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The high level of traffic on the mountain can be seen in the photo above, which shows climbers waiting in an area 26,200 feet above sea level, called “the Death Zone.” Nepal’s tourism ministry has issued a record number of permits to 381 climbers this season, one reason for the overcrowding.
“I have climbed Everest so many times, but this spring’s traffic jam was the worst,” said Tshering Jangbu Sherpa, a guide who climbed the mountain on May 22. “Many climbers who moved to the summit without extra supplement oxygen bottles suffered the most. They suffered because of the traffic jam, not because of wind and coldness.”
Fisher is one of 10 people who died over the past few weeks of the spring climbing season. Other deaths include four Indian climbers, a man from Utah, a Nepalese guide, one Austrian and one Irishman.
Officials believe a second Irishman died after falling on the mountain last week. His family said in a statement that the search for his body had been called off
600 people reached the summit on the Nepal side of the mountain as of May 24, according to a government official. Peak climbing conditions in April and May have also been a factor in overcrowding, said Danduraj Ghimire, director general of Nepal’s tourism department, who rejects claims that overcrowding has made the climb more dangerous.
“It’s not because of traffic jam,” Ghimire said. “The number of climbers was a bit high this year, and most climbers wanted to climb within a short weather window.”
The death count for the 2019 climbing season is at 17, according to the New York Times, making it the worst in decades after accounting for disasters like avalanches and earthquakes.
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Fisher was one of those dreamers, and his family says he previously climbed Mont Blanc and Aconcagua and had “lived life to the full(est).”
“He was a ‘tough guy’, triathlete, and marathoner. A champion for vegetarianism, published author, and a cultured theatre-goer, lover of Shakespeare,” his family said.
His girlfriend, Kristyn Carriere, traveled with him to Everest base camp but left to climb with another group when he made his trip.
On Facebook she posted, “He got his goal. My heart is broken. It was his ultimate challenge.”