No fatalities post monsoon. In the autumn of 1967, when only two expeditions attempted Nepalese Himalayan peaks over 6,600m, there were no climbers’ deaths. Every autumn since then there have been deaths—until 2007, when none of the 183 teams suffered fatalities. Why none now, after 40 years of fatal falls, pulmonary edema and other kinds of illness, and climbers freezing to death at high altitudes? Certainly there has been increased understanding of the causes of high-altitude sickness and what to do about it, and this knowledge is more widely shared. Clothing, sleeping bags, tents, ropes, and other gear have improved and become more widely available, notably in Eastern Europe. But do these factors fully account for the difference? The weather has gotten no kinder. Has it been all of the above, plus climbers’ better judgment and better weather forecasts on which to base their judgment—plus sheer good luck? Whatever the reasons, it’s a nice surprise.
Elizabeth Hawley, AAC Honorary Member, Nepal