A California climber who managed to climb Mount Everest and back down again in just two weeks is calling on Nepal to change the rules amid a series of deaths on the mountain, revealing she saw four bodies during her journey.
Roxanne Vogel, 33, conquered the mountain in record time last week, way ahead of other climbers who often take about two months. She prepared for the challenge over three years, which included working and sleeping in simulated high-altitude environments.
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“This was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life and I thought I’d adequately tried to prepare for it mentally, but there’s nothing you can do to prepare for it,” Vogel told the Washington Post. “I still haven’t wrapped my head around it completely yet. It’s life-changing, I suppose.”
Vogel’s record came amid growing controversy over the unprecedented traffic and deaths on the mountain, with the Nepalese authorities issuing hundreds of passes without any minimum requirements.
Eleven people have died so far this year on Mount Everest – including nine in Nepal – likely due to altitude sickness, which is caused by low amounts of oxygen at high elevation and can lead to headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion.
Nepal has issued permits to 381 people to climb Everest, which the government says is the greatest number ever.
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Vogel now says the Nepalese government ought to do more to ensure that those who are attempting to make the Mt. Everest journey are fully prepared.
“On my summit day, I saw four bodies. They would be within a few feet of me. So you have to stop and stand there and be next to the body doing what you’re doing and it’s really eye-opening,” she told ABC 7 News.
“On my summit day, I saw four bodies. They would be within a few feet of me. So you have to stop and stand there and be next to the body doing what you’re doing and it’s really eye opening.”
Nepal should also require all climbers to have health checks and a minimum amount of climbing experience, Vogel said, expressing shock that some people would pick the tallest mountain in the world as their first climbing experience.
“It also goes to show that there are other ways to climb the mountain, or doing an accelerated itinerary, it doesn’t have to be what you saw on the south this year.”
A video filmed by Rohtash Khileri and posted to Instagram shows dozens of climbers as they wait in line before making their way towards the 29,035-foot peak. “Waiting for climbing up,” he wrote on the video that’s attracted tens of thousands of views.
Because of the altitude, climbers have just hours to reach the top before they are at risk of pulmonary edema, when the lungs fill with liquid causing respiratory failure. Mountaineers have described traffic jams caused by exhausted rookies in the “death zone,” the final phase of the ascent from Camp Four at 26,240 feet to the 29,035-foot peak.
While government officials have said there were no plans to cap permits, another official had a different response to the New York Times on Wednesday.
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“Certainly there will be some change in the expedition sector,” Mira Acharya, a senior official with Nepal’s tourism department, told the newspaper. “We are discussing reforming some issues, including setting criteria for every Everest hopeful.”
Fox News’ Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.