Indian mountaineer Ravindra Kumar speaks to WION, explains why Everest has turned into 'death zone'

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India May 29, 2019, 03.08 PM(IST)

File photo: Mountaineers ascend on their way to the summit of Mount Everest, as they climb on the south face from Nepal. Photograph:( AFP )

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Kumar said that beyond 8,000 metres, the air gets so thin and the content of oxygen in the air is so less that "a person who lives at the sea-level would die within a couple of minutes.

With reports of over 10 people killed recently while trying to scale the world highest peak, Mount Everest, global interest mounts around the ambitious expedition, the traffic on the peak and why has it turned into a 'death zone'.

WION got in touch with Ravindra Kumar, an Indian mountaineer who has not only scaled the summit successfully but has achieved the feat twice in his life. 

Kumar spoke to WION on a host of issues surrounding the expedition - from the large number of permits being granted for the expedition, the commercialisation of the summit to the side from the which the mountaineers attempt to summit the peak.

"Actually the problem of traffic is on the south side of the peak. As you rightly said, over 380 permits were issued. I climbed from the north side where only 171 permits were given," Kumar told WION. 

Kumar said that beyond 8,000 metres, the air gets so thin and the content of oxygen in the air is so less that "a person who lives at the sea-level would die within a couple of minutes. That is why the Everest is called the 'death zone'".

Watch: 'Human Traffic Jam' atop Mount Everest claimed 11 lives this season

Kumar is the first IAS officer to scale the summit. He received Sikkim Khel Ratna and has penned a book called 'Many Everest'.

"We use bottled supplementary oxygen. We carry them for the summit. If you end up consuming more number of bottles while stuck in traffic and are not left with any more oxygen bottles, then ultimately you will run out of oxygen and die," Kumar informed.

Kumar first scaled the peak in the year 2013 and then this year. He said the place is so dangerous that one just wants to start on the descent, adding that as many as "only 10 people can stand at the summit at a time".

Over 11 have died in little more than two weeks after poor weather cut the climbing window, leaving mountaineers waiting in long queues to the summit, risking exhaustion and running out of oxygen. 

Nepal issued a record 381 Everest permits this season, and several hundred of the summiteers are not properly trained, take poor decisions and risk their life.

As per a report by news agency AFP, at least four deaths on the world's highest mountain have been blamed on over-crowding with teams waiting sometimes for hours in the "death zone" where the cold is bitter, the air dangerously thin and the terrain treacherous.

This year's Everest toll is the highest since 2014-15 when huge earthquakes triggered devastating avalanches, the report stated.