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Everest Deaths in 2012 | Mount Everest |

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<The problem comes when you try to describe each trip to prospective clients. Depending on the outfitter, terms like guided, non-guided, Sherpa-guided, hybrid, and logistics-only can mean different levels of service from people with wildly divergent levels of skill.

Dawa Steven thinks it’s time for the government of Nepal to step in and regulate Everest, but Simonson and Burleson are both wary of more oversight from bureaucrats in a country that’s on the verge of becoming a failed state. With millions pouring into the local economy annually from Everest climbers, it’s unlikely that the government will do anything to change the status quo.>

The deadly grasp of "summit fever"

"Then an odd thing happened. An officer from the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee had just arrived at our camp to verify that we hadn’t left any trash on the mountain. His radio was tuned to Asian Trekking’s channel, where a disturbing scene was playing out between Dawa Steven, in Base Camp, and an Indian woman, who was a client of his, at the South Col. Her Sherpas had told her she wasn’t strong enough to go up, but she refused to descend.

“Think about other people,” we could hear him say. “You’re putting other people at risk.” She was worried about losing face, disappointing her sponsors, and quitting so close to the top. “Four people died on the mountain last week, and they were all fitter than you,” he said. “If you go up, you’re not going to come back.”

The standoff went on for more than an hour. The climber’s brother was patched through from India. With a handset still tuned in, we shouldered our packs and began walking toward the buffet table and laundered sheets awaiting us at the Yak and Yeti hotel in Kathmandu. Dawa Steven stopped cajoling and told the woman that the Sherpas would drag her down if they had to. Eventually, she relented."

It's a problem!

"Summit fever had developed in that group," he said. "There was a chemistry in there that meant they were going for the summit no matter what ... They were all driving each other on. These people came together and because of the place and the atmosphere and their personalities, they became blinkered and simply focused on the top. There was no careful awareness in the group and the most dangerous thing about groups is that everyone hands over responsibility for themselves to someone else ... It means that no one is taking responsibility. There can be a false sense of strength in numbers, but it doesn't matter how big your group is - you can have 1,000 people and the mountain could still kill them all."

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