Indian climber dies as ‘human traffic jam’ on Mount Everest sparks overcrowding concerns

Indian climber dies as ‘human traffic jam’ on Mount Everest sparks overcrowding concerns

An Indian mountaineer has become the eighth Mount Everest fatality so far this year as concern rises over overcrowding at the world’s highest peak.

Banshi Lal, 46, who was rescued from the mountain last week, died in Kathmandu hospital, Nepal’s tourism department said.

Although the exact cause of Lal’s death is not yet known, his expedition agency has said he showed signs of acute mountain sickness.

Rakesh Gurung, chief of mountaineering at Nepal’s tourism department, confirmed Lal’s death on Tuesday.

He was airlifted from the mountain on 21 May.

Five people have died during the 2024 Everest climbing season while three are missing and presumed dead.

The death toll this season, which is nearing its end, however is lower than last year when 18 people perished.

The news of the latest fatality comes as photos and videos of long queues of climbers on the precarious peak prompt the mountaineering community to raise questions about safety and sustainability.

A video shared by Indian mountaineer Rajan Dwivedi showing a “traffic jam” of climbers on their ascent to the peak in particular has stirred a debate.

The video was taken shortly after British climber Daniel Paterson and his Nepali Sherpa, Pastenji, were hit by falling ice while descending from the summit, causing the crowding.

“Mt Everest is not a joke,” Mr Dwivedi said, adding that the video shows “what we face on one rope line and negotiating interchanges during the traffic for upstream and downstream!”

“The main reason is weather window to avoid the fierce cruising jet streams that could be 100-240mph!! For me, coming down was a nightmare and exhausting while huge line of climbers were coming up to maximize on the weather window!!!”

The video shows a long queue of climbers perched on a narrow strip of ice as they wait to move up while Mr Dwivedi and other mountaineers wait to descend.

This is not the first time Everest has seen a throng of climbers.

In 2019 a massive queue on Mount Everest made international headlines and the pictures went viral.

The climbers and their sherpas were forced to wait for long hours in freezing temperatures as the path up and down got crowded. Getting held up on the mountain is risky for climbers as it depletes their oxygen levels and exposes them to freezing temperatures, leading to sickness and exhaustion.