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Everest, Overcrowding on the North Ridge

Everest, overcrowding on the North Ridge. Climbers on the Tibetan side had similar complaints to those on the Nepal side. A Swiss expedition leader said that when he and his group on their way to the top reached 8,600m (28,200 feet), near the bottom of the Second Step, he could see 15 climbers ahead waiting to go up the ladder on the Step; clouds were rolling in and the wind was getting stronger, so he decided to retreat out of fear of a repetition of 1996. He noted that many of the climbers from other teams who did carry on to the top returned with frostbite or snow-blindness or even a broken leg, and he was very happy with his decision; his party descended safely and in good health.

Other climbers on the north side during their summit bids a few days before the Swiss were forced to climb up or down much more slowly than they were capable of doing because of inexperienced people blocking their way. Another problem created by the novices was falling discarded oxygen bottles, which had been carelessly dumped in soft snow; when the snow melted, the bottles fell, and a skilled American mountaineer had to leave for home after being hit on the back of his head by one of them.

Elizabeth Hawley, Nepal