Boulder attorney, Christopher Kulish, added to one of the deadliest climbing seasons in Mt. Everest history, becoming the 11th person to die on the mountain in 10 days. A news release from his brother said Kulish died early Monday morning on his way back down the mountain after reaching the summit earlier in the weekend.
Christopher’s brother, Mark, said the 62-year-old climber arrived at the mountain’s base camp in Nepal seven weeks before his ascent to get acclimated to the climate. He died of cardiac arrest at the camp just below the summit.
Kulish’s death comes during a record-breaking climbing season on the mountain where a total of 381 permits—which cost $11,000 a pop—were handed out, according to the Associated Press. For reference, 346 permits were given out last year. The death also comes days after a 55-year-old American died at the summit—though his death was a result of altitude sickness, the more common cause of death among the 11 who have died so far.
This crowded season was made evident by an anxiety-inducing photo shared online that showed a line of climbers near the summit.
According to mountain guides, the crowding is a big reason behind all of the deaths and serious injuries that climbers have experienced this year.
Sherpa guides on the Nepali side of the mountain have complained that the traffic jam at the last stretch of the climb, called “the death zone,” has become the most serious problem for climbers in this spring season.
“I have climbed Everest so many times, but this spring’s traffic jam was the worst,” said Tshering Jangbu Sherpa, a guide who summited Everest on May 22. “Many climbers who moved to the summit without extra supplement oxygen bottles suffered the most. They suffered because of the traffic jam, not because of wind and coldness.”
The death toll and carnage that have resulted from the overcrowding was described by an Arizona doctor as “like a zoo.” Ed Dohring, the doctor in question, told the New York Times that he had to step around a woman who had just died when he reached the top of Everest and had to wait hours to share the flat part of the summit—which is approximately the size of two ping pong tables—with about 15 to 20 people to get a photo.