Climbers returning from Everest have described scenes of chaos on the roof of the world as 100 people tried to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain within a few hours of each other.
Christian Elde, 37, and Trond Eilertsen, 57, both from Norway, said they had been forced to wait for two and a half hours at crucial points on their final climb to the summit on Saturday as queues formed below steep and technically more difficult obstacles.
"There were people who didn't have much experience, so they were slow on the harder bits and we were standing in queues. If there had been bad weather it could have been very dangerous. It took us a bit over 10 hours to reach the summit and about a quarter of that was spent waiting in a line," Elde, a part-time mountain guide from Oslo, said.
Elde described how he had seen climbers at base camp who were clearly unused to basic mountaineering equipment such as axes and crampons.
"It's a tough mountain," Eilertsen, a lawyer who has now climbed the highest point on every continent on the planet, said. "The oxygen helps, the fixed line [ropes set up to safeguard climbers] helps too but you are still above 8,000 metres and the margins of error there are very, very small. Some people definitely should not have been there."
Both men stressed that climbers in many groups, including their own expedition organised by a British company, had been carefully selected and were highly competent.
The 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest by a British expedition in 1953 will be celebrated next week amid continuing concern about inexperienced climbers and overcrowding on the mountain.
More than 700 climbers and guides are expected to attempt to reach the summit this season, which will end within weeks when high monsoon winds make the ascent impossible.
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