Video: Mount Everest’s deadly traffic jam

  1. Closed captioning of: Mount Everest’s deadly traffic jam

    >>> the moon. pictures we have to show you. it might be the last place on earth you would expect to see a traffic jam , but a combination of bad weather and too many people looking for the peak experience all at the same time has turned tragic. our report tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk.

    >> it is the holy grail for mounta mountaineers, the irresistible but deadly everest. this is what it looked like last week. climbers by the hundreds, each hoping to conquer the world 's tallest peak. on saturday, there was a short break in the weather and a race to the summit. above 26,000 feet in a place ominously called the death zone , they hit a traffic jam .

    >> there's not mane plaszs to get around these wrong lines of people. you have00reds of people stacked up so you can't really pass.

    >> some were forced to wait for hours. a german doctor and a 33-year-old canadian were among four who died from altitude sickness and exposure. dr. john crudowski made it to the top that day. he came across one of the climbers moments before his death.

    >> his hat was off, this glove said were off.

    >>> this weekend, 200 more climbers will decide whether or not to go ahead. "outside" magazines dwrasen schaefer reported this from base camp . a guide at the top is troubled by the numbers.

    >> we can't beat these people. they keep starting earlier and earlier.

    >> a video taken earlier this week showed climbers making their way up in the dark, their head lamps visible on the ridge.

    >> i expect this to go smoother than the other night, but you never know.

    >> unpredictable everest already has plenty of dangers. the rugged terrain, the weather, the altitude. now there's another, the crowd. stephanie gosk, nbc news, london.

By Associated Press
updated 5/25/2012 10:38:36 AM ET 2012-05-25T14:38:36

KATMANDU, Nepal - Scores of climbers were headed for the summit of Mount Everest on Friday to begin what is expected to be another busy weekend on the top of the world.

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Last weekend, four climbers died on their way down from the summit amid worsening weather and a traffic jam of more than 200 people scrambling to conquer the world's highest peak. A similar crowd is expected this weekend, but there have been no reports of climbers in trouble and the weather is good.

Related: Climbers' traffic jam blamed for Mount Everest deaths

Gyanendra Shrestha, an official with Nepal's Tourism Ministry, said he had reports that 82 climbers reached the 29,035-foot summit on Friday morning.

Shrestha, who is at base camp, said 120 climbers started the last phase of the climb on Thursday night, but not all of them reached the summit. He said it was normal for some climbers to quit at the last treacherous part of the climb for various reasons.

More climbers were expected to try to reach the summit on Saturday - probably the last day of this climbing season.

"This is the last chance for climbers to attempt to reach the summit. If they can't, then there is not going to be another opportunity this season," said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, another tourism official.

Most of the climbers began their trek from the last camp at the South Col, located at 26,240 feet, on Thursday night and climbed all night, reaching the summit in the morning.

The deaths last weekend raised concerns about overcrowding above the highest camp on the mountain. The area above the South Col is nicknamed the "death zone" because of the steep, icy slope, treacherous conditions and low oxygen level.

Officials said that last weekend, climbers were heading to the summit as late as 2:30 p.m., even though 11 a.m. is the latest start time recommended. That meant climbers were staying too long on the mountain's upper reaches and exhausting their oxygen supplies because they didn't anticipate having to wait.

Related: Climber's sky-high dreams dashed far below Everest summit

More than 3,000 people have climbed Everest since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to do so in 1953. Some 225 climbers have died attempting it.

The deadliest day was May 10, 1996, when eight people were killed. The main reason was said to be that climbers who started their ascent late in the day were caught in a snowstorm in the afternoon and lost their way.

The climbing season normally runs from late March to the first week in June, but this year the first clear conditions occurred only last weekend.

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