A year on from the loss of 11 people on the world’s highest mountain, survivors talk about what went wrong and why
Nirmal Purja is someone who responds to a crisis by becoming completely calm. When the Nepalese mountaineer saw the line of about 100 people waiting to reach the crest of Everest on 22 May last year, he knew there was no way he could overtake the slower climbers. Mentally, he abandoned the record he was attempting, for the fastest climb between the neighbouring peaks of Lhotse and Everest.
Poor weather at the start of the climbing season had meant there was only a very small window of time in which people could attempt the summit – just three clear days. In 2018, the year before, there had been 11 good days, allowing climbing companies to stagger their teams. Purja had known there would be queues, but was taken aback by the numbers.