There are typically just a handful of days each climbing season in which the weather allows climbers to safely ascend Everest, the head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association tells the Washington Post. Which is why pro mountaineers and local officials are worried about the 800 or so climbers expected to make the trip this year, upping the chances for dangerous "traffic jams," the officials say. Some 371 foreigners have been issued climbing permits for 2017—the highest number since 1953, per the Post—with more than 400 Sherpas also set to climb. Experts explain that waiting on the mountain behind other groups isn't just an eye-rolling inconvenience: With each extra minute spent not moving, climbers could fall prey to altitude sickness, risk getting frostbite, or use up too much of the oxygen needed to complete the trip.
In a Facebook post last week, UK mountaineer Tim Mosedale said he recently came across some "fairly strange and indeed dangerous activity" on Everest: He describes one climber whose helmet was attached to his backpack rather than on his head and whose crampons were on the wrong feet ("his excuse was that he was in a rush to go to the toilet that morning"). Many people don't seem to realize that even the best mountain climbers can be no match for Mother Nature: Swiss climber Ueli Steck, for instance, died just last week prepping for an Everest climb. "This is not alpinism, this is tourism," sniffs Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner, the first documented climber to reach the top of Everest alone without supplemental oxygen, to the Diplomat. (An 85-year-old wants to reclaim his Everest record.)