Everest Death Toll Nears 'Into Thin Air' Level

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Traffic jams of climbers trying to ascend or descend Mount Everest is being blamed for a reported 11 deaths this hiking season.

In 1996, the season made infamous by the book "Into Thin Air," a record 15 climbers died on the world's tallest mountain.

But unlike then, the weather is nice this year. The difference is that the climbing windows this year are later and there are more climbers — some so inexperienced they don't even know how to put on crampons. There are also traffic jams of climbers waiting up to three and a half hours in the thin air to try to reach the top. Many are burning through valuable oxygen while waiting.

Grayson Schaffer, senior editor at Outside magazine, is at Everest base camp and told Here & Now's Robin Young that another 80 to 120 people will try to climb during the second window that opens Thursday night. And the mood in base camp is tense because guides are trying to work together to coordinate climbers. But teams know that waiting too long means that climbers won't make it to the summit.


This segment aired on May 24, 2012.


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