For the first time in 41 years, not a single person stood on the summit of Mount Everest, the world's highest peak at 29,029 feet, during an entire calendar year. But that's not even close to the worst of what 2015 brought, as famed climber Alan Arnette reports in his year-end blog summary titled "Summits Don't Matter." After a record 358 permits were issued to individual climbers at the start of the year, a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck Nepal in April, claiming 8,000-plus lives across the country and a record 18 (or 24, the numbers vary) on the mountain, reports the Telegraph. The deadliest day in the mountain's history came almost exactly one year after the previous record, when an avalanche claimed 16 lives in April 2014.
Everest "inspires humility," the Takeaway reports, but every year the ante is raised as more climbers try to reach the summit and more Sherpas and their families come to rely on mountaineering and trekking tourism. As such the government of Nepal at first hesitated to shut down the mountain following the disaster in April 2015, but another earthquake in May, as well as broken ladders, forced them to issue no more permits until the end of the summer, when famed Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki, who'd lost all his fingers during one of his previous four bids on the mountain, gave it another go. He abandoned his campaign just 2,300 feet from the summit in late September, the Guardian reported at the time, and the mountain let no one else through. (A Google exec was among the dead in 2015.)