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Everest Queue - Nirmal Purja HI RES Nirmal Purja Project Possible Ltd

Why Climb Mount Everest?

The record number of deaths this year on the world's tallest mountain underscores the immorality of seeking to reach the summit. But even if you are lucky enough to reach the top without passing a climber in need of help, you are still choosing your personal goal over saving a life.

PRINCETON – In 1953, when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, I was seven years old. For a time, I was immersed in the stories of the epic climb. It seemed like an achievement for all of humankind, like reaching the South Pole. Would there still be any frontiers left, I wondered, by the time I grew up?

A photo of the southern summit ridge of Everest has brought these memories back to me. But what a different Everest this is! The splendid isolation of the top of the world has gone. Instead, there is a long line of climbers waiting their turn to stand briefly on the summit.

It’s not hard to see why. As the expedition company Seven Summit Treks advertises: “If you want to experience what it feels like to be on the highest point on the planet and have strong economic background to compensate for your old age and your fear of risks you can sign up for the VVIP Mount Everest Expedition Service.” You need the “strong economic background” because it will cost you $130,000. There are less expensive ways to climb Everest, but they all start with the $11,000 fee that the Nepalese government charges for a permit.

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