Tahoe Man Climbs Mount Everest For Eighth Time
Sadly, eleven people have died so far this year on Mount Everest. One Squaw Valley man who just made the summit is sharing his thoughts about what happened to make it so dangerous.
Sadly, eleven people have died so far this year on Mount Everest. These deaths come during a season when large crowds of people attempted the risky climb.
One Squaw Valley man who just made the summit up Everest is sharing his thoughts about what happened on the mountain this year to make it so dangerous.
Adrian Ballinger has reached the peak of Everest eight times during his climbing career. He says the attraction of the mountain has certainly been growing since his first time going up, but the popularity is not his biggest concern for why people are dying.
“The numbers weren't actually much bigger this year than last year or even five years ago, what happened this year is bad weather shined a light on issues that have been building over the years,” says Ballinger.
He says the number one issue is inexperience. Ballinger points to the long lines on Everest this year as a clear indicator that too many people are making the climb ill-prepared.
“When things happen like too many people on a line, they don't have the skills necessary to un-clip from the line and use traditional mountaineering techniques to avoid the bottle neck,” says Ballinger.
This year he and his team avoided the crowds by climbing the more challenging side of the mountain in Tibet. That's where Ballinger has successfully guided more than 60 climbers to the summit.
“There are less than 30 percent of the people and China actually regulates who climbs on that side of the mountain.”
The Nepal side of the mountain does not limit permits and charges each person $11,000 to make the climb. Ballinger says the cost is a major economic stimulator for the country, but officials should consider regulations to ensure more people return home safely.
“That would drop the number and would hopefully increase financial gains of Nepal by forcing people to climb other mountains and then coming to Everest once they're ready,” says Ballinger.
Before climbers are ready for Everest, many come to him for training at his company Alpenglow Expeditions in Squaw Valley.
“We bring people from all over the country to train for mountains like Mt. Everest or mountains in the alps, they start here in Tahoe."
In June, a 1,000 ft tall mountainside outside his office will be at his disposal to train mountaineers. The via ferrata as it’s called will allow non-climbers to clip onto a rail that goes up the mountain. The hike is meant for people who want to try rock climbing without having prior experience.
“You're going to do this mountain first and then you're going to do this rock climbing and then you're going to go to a high altitude and finally you're going to go to Mt. Everest,” says Ballinger.
Even then, he says you're never in complete control, pointing to the weather conditions on Everest last month as evidence.
This is why he says the proper physical conditioning and professional equipment is an absolute must before attempting any major climb.
“Mother nature is still in control, so each person needs to have the skills necessary to be safe up there, to help each other when things get difficult,” says Ballinger.