May 27 (UPI) — Nepal’s government denied recent statements solely attributing the increase of deaths on Mount Everest to overcrowding on the mountain.
Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general of Nepal’s tourism authority, said other factors, including poor weather conditions, have contributed to the nine reported deaths on the mountain.
Ghimire said 381 people had climbed the mountain this spring, but a lack of clear weather has led to a “higher than expected” number of people on the routes.
British climber Robin Haynes Fisher, who became the latest victim when he died of apparent altitude sickness on Saturday, cited the crowds as potentially fatal in an Instagram post before his ascent.
“With a single route to the summit, delays caused by overcrowding could prove fatal so I am hopeful my decision to go for the 25th will mean fewer people. Unless of course everyone else plays the same waiting game,” Fisher wrote.
Crowds of climbers were stuck in a line to the summit of the mountain where most people can only spend a few minutes without extra oxygen.
Mountain guide Adrian Ballinger told CNN that the poor weather led to fewer climbing days and exacerbated problems for less experienced climbers.
“These deaths were entirely preventable,” he said. “And they were due to this lack of judgment on a difficult season with difficult weather.”