Everest’s latest climbing season brings new records and challenges


Japanese adventurer Yuichiro Miura, 80, right, and his son, Gota, rest on their way to a camp at 6,500 meters during their attempt to scale the summit of Mount Everest. Miura plans to reach Everest on Thursday, May 23 to be the world's oldest person to reach the world's highest peak. (Miura Dolphins/ via AP)

The climbing season that started with a brawl on the highest mountain in the world has seen a record number of people reach the top of Mt. Everest, some making new records while others sought to break old ones.

May, considered an ideal month to climb Everest, has seen hundreds of aspiring mountaineers come to the Everest region and as many as 300 have reached the summit this season, according to Nepali newspaper Republica.

About 670 people will try to climb the peak this week (May 18-May 25), aiming to finish their ascent during favorable weather conditions. Individuals from around the world pay thousands of dollars to seek a permit to climb Everest -- many aiming for glory while others seeking adrenaline rush -- and have a small window in May to climb up and come down the mountain.

Here are some of the notable records held last weekend:

  • Raha Moharrak, 25, became the first Saudi Arabian woman, and the youngest Arab to reach to the top of Mt. Everest
  • Tashi Malik and Nancy Malik, both 21, became the first twins to climb the peak together.
  • Samina Baig, 22, became the first Pakistani woman to scale the peak. She climbed the mountain with her brother Mirza Ali.
  • Raed Zidan, 25, became the first Palestinian to climb the mountain. He dedicated his ascent to Palestinians, especially those "languishing" in Israeli prisons.
  • A U.S. Air Force team became the first active-duty military to reach to the top of the world.
  • Arunima Sinha, 25, who had lost her leg after being hit by a train, became the first Indian amputee to climb the mountain.
  • David Liaño Gonzales, 33, from Mexico, became the first mountaineer to double summit on Mt. Everest in the same season.
  • Daniel Hughes, a British explorer made history -- and controversy -- by placing the first ever video call from Mt. Everest. He was live on the BBC. You can see the video below.

Hughes live call from the top of the world has been called illegal by the Nepali government, which said the mountaineer did not have prior approval from the authorities. Hughes could face a five-year ban from entering Nepal and a 10-year ban from climbing Everest.

Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura, 80, who is on his way to the summit, hopes to become the oldest person in the world to climb the world's highest mountain. Miura once held the title in 2003, and later lost it to a Nepali man who climbed the peak at the age of 76.

But it hasn't been all good news from Everest.

A Bangladeshi and a South Korean climber both died after climbing the summit. Five other mountaineers have died on Everest during this season.

Scaling the highest mountain comes with severe risks and, every season, climbers lose their lives. Last year, four climbers were killed in what was called a "traffic jam" on the mountain, caused by high number of people attempting to reach the top. According to National Geographic, although the success rate of climbers has more than tripled in the last two decades, Everest brings special challenges, of which overcrowding is a big one.

Everest has always been a trophy, but now that almost 4,000 people have reached its summit, some more than once, the feat means less than it did a half century ago. Today roughly 90 percent of the climbers on Everest are guided clients, many without basic climbing skills. Having paid $30,000 to $120,000 to be on the mountain, too many callowly expect to reach the summit. A significant number do, but under appalling conditions.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the first ascent on Mt. Everest, when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa became the first people to stand on the world's highest mountain.

You can see images from the dangerous road to Everest, where more than 300 people have died in the last six decades.

Anup Kaphle is the Post's digital foreign editor. He has an M.S. degree in journalism from Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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