Three climbers died on Mount Everest this weekend. They reportedly died of exhaustion and altitude sickness on their way down, after reaching the summit. Two more climbers are missing. The world's highest mountain is said to be in a particularly dangerous condition this year. And one respected expedition organizer canceled his group's entire season earlier this month. But Everest is still more crowded than ever. Legendary British mountaineer and explorer Chris Bonington blames the crowding and danger on the commercialization of Mount Everest. "Once you have that, and you have guides and you have fixed ropes, it means that comparatively inexperienced people" are attempting the climb. "They can cope," says Bonington, "provided everything goes all right." But delays and a change in the weather can be deadly. Bonington is calling for greater regulation, to keep the numbers down, to make the climb safer and more enjoyable. He is one of Britain's most experienced mountain climbers, having first tackled Everest in 1961.
  • The commercialization of Mt Everest. Climbers' camps are visible on the northeast ridge. Other lights visible almost exactly at the "First Step" along the ridge - presumably a summit push in progress. Vantage point is from the north base camp/ tourist cam

  • Chris Bonington climbing Annapurna in 1970 (Photo: Chris Bonington Picture Library)

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