Bottleneck of climbers blamed for deaths on Everest

“Too many people, too few summit windows, too many inexperienced people climbing and inadequate support” are at the heart of the high number of fatalities on Everest this season.

Bottleneck of climbers blamed for deaths on Everest

“Too many people, too few summit windows, too many inexperienced people climbing and inadequate support” are at the heart of the high number of fatalities on Everest this season.

That’s the view of US Everest and K2 summiter Alan Arnette in the aftermath of the deaths of two Irish men, Kevin Hynes (56) from Co Galway on May 23 and Séamus Lawless (39) from Wicklow on May 16, who are among 20 fatalities to date on the 8,000m metre peaks this season.

Nepal has issued 378 permits to 41 teams this season, many of them led by experienced guides with paying clients. Some are now calling for a lottery system to be introduced for the permits to reduce the numbers attempting the climb.

High altitude chronicler Paul Devaney, who is curator of the Irish Seven Summits website, was the last person to interview both Mr Hynes and Mr Lawless. He said their deaths have “shaken us all”.

Mr Devaney, from Co Longford, believes there are “serious problems afoot on the world’s highest peak”.

Co Galway native Kevin Hynes, who has previously climbed Everest from Nepal, also recorded ascents in Argentina, Alaska, Africa, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal and India.

He died on the North Col (7,000m) last Thursday after turning around at 8.300m on the Tibetan side of the mountain.

Mr Hynes, who lived in Harrow, England, was “intensely private and humble about those achievements and would have been quite happy if nobody knew he climbed at all,” Mr Devaney said.

Mr Devaney conducted the most recent interviews with Mr Hynes, Prof Seamus Lawless from Co Wicklow, and his expedition partner, physiotherapist Jenny Copeland (40) from Co Meath, who made a successful summit on May 16.

All were in good spirits, Mr Devaney recalls.

More than €267,000 was contributed in six days towards the costs of a search for Mr Lawless him.

It was called off late last week due to the high risks involved. The family said that any costs over and above the search would be refunded, and extended their appreciation to his guide, Noel Hanna from Co Down, the Sherpas who offered support, and Lawless’s climbing partners and friends.

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