When the mind thinks of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, it likely conjures up images of jagged peaks covered in snow, with one or two brave adventurers who have climbed for months to conquer it.
Maybe it imagines the inhospitable conditions; strong, freezing winds or a deadly avalanche.
What it’s unlikely to think of is a traffic jam of brightly coloured backpacks and puffer jackets, as more than 100 climbers queue to reach the summit.
But that is what awaited those who reached Everest’s summit last week, as a photo by mountaineer Nirmal Purja captured on Wednesday.
#ProjectPossible update. I summited Everest at 0530 and Lhotse at 1545 despite heavy traffic. I am now at Makalu base camp. Will be going directly for summit push from base camp. I will update once Makalu is complete. Thank you for my support especially my sponsors. pic.twitter.com/mAiLTryEln
— Nimsdai (@nimsdai) May 23, 2019
Queues to reach the top of Everest can take hours, as the time that climbers can safely reach the peak is often only a small window of two or three days.
Posting to Facebook, adventure filmmaker Elia Saikaly shared a photo of himself at the summit, adding he “cannot believe what I saw up there”.
“Death. Carnage. Chaos. Lineups. Dead bodies on the route and in tents at camp 4. People who I tried to turn back who ended up dying. People being dragged down. Walking over bodies,” he wrote.
“Everything you read in the sensational headlines all played out on our summit night.”
He also shared a disturbing photograph of climbers stepping over a dead body.
“This poor human being perched 7000ft above the Western CWM for everyone to observe was a reminder of each of our own mortality. Was this the ‘Dream of Everest’ we all imagined?” he wrote.