What's the Latest Development?
So many people are climbing Mount Everest these days that they're turning what once was considered a major bucket-list challenge into "a McDonald's experience," says mountaineer Graham Hoyland. Last year, a record 234 people made it to the top of Mount Everest on a single day, a feat attributed both to improved equipment -- which allows even amateurs to participate -- and the dedication of experienced Sherpa guides. Along with the increased traffic flow comes lines and bottlenecks on the world's highest summit, as well as a growing tourist industry targeted to Westerners and increasing challenges with litter and sanitation.
What's the Big Idea?
Since 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary made history by becoming the first known Westerner to reach the top of Everest, more than 3,000 have followed in his footsteps, including an 80-year-old Japanese man who last week set the record for the world's oldest summiteer. Serious climbers like Hoyland worry that the increase in amateurs could result in a tragic accident: "You have people going up there who don't know how to operate the ropes or use the crampons. There's a huge disaster waiting to happen."
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