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Monday, September 04, 2006

Mount Everest Death Rate

The death rate on Mt Everest is still too high. According to the British Medical Journal, the death rate remains for many years at 1 death for every 10 successful attempts to climb the world’s highest mountain. Mount Everest is 8,848 meters or 29,029 feet high.

An unofficial report states 15 deaths in 2006 season alone.

Dr Andrew Sutherland, Oxford-based surgeon and Mt Everest expedition adviser said there should be a lot fewer deaths due to improved climbing gear, established routes and a better understanding of the need of acclimatisation.

Sutherland, who climbed Everest this year from the northern side (Everestmax expedition), said most deaths are caused by injuries and exhaustion but a significant number of climbers die from altitude related illness.

There are two major forms of altitude sicknesses, HAPE or high altitude pulmonary oedema and HACE or high altitude cerebral oedema. Both causes build up of fluid in lungs or brain and are potentially fatal.

Andrew Sutherland added: "In my view, climbers are not climbing beyond their ability but instead beyond their altitude ability.

"Unfortunately, it is difficult to get the experience of what it is like climbing above Camp 3 (8,300 meters or 27,231 feet) without climbing Everest.

"Climbers invariably do not know what their ability above 8,300 meters (or 27,231 feet) is going to be like.

"The longer you stay up there, in the death zone, the greater the chance you have of dying."

Source: BBC News “Concern over Everest death rate

Additional recommended readings on Mount Everest.