New Delhi, May 28: This climbing season is the 60th since Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reached the summit of Mount Everest for the first time on May 29, 1953, and the world's highest peak is becoming a crowded place.
Tomorrow marks the 60th year of the first climb and till now over 3,000 people have reached the summit.
To mark the anniversary tomorrow, Hillary's son Peter and Norgay's son Jamling will join Queen Elizabeth II at a diamond jubilee event at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that the Everest is fast becoming a tourist centre rather than a symbol of endurance and mystery.
This time last year photographs showed what turned out to be a deadly traffic jam on Everest, with a line of 200 people climbing single file on their way to the summit.
Due to the unprecedented traffic jam on the world's highest peak, four people died on that day. Many blamed these death on hours-long waits to ascend and descend the summit in the "death zone" for exposing climbers to potentially fatal altitude sickness. On 19 May, around 150 mountaineers climbed the last 3,000 feet of the peak from Camp IV, causing lengthy delays.
At 29,000 feet, the Hillary Step, is the toughest point to reach the summit of Everest and requires 40 feet of climbing a near vertical rock face.
Due to this, the Hillary Step faces most of the congestion as only one person can go up or down at a time and if people are waiting on either side for hours together, it increases the exposure to harsh weather and risk of death.
However, hundreds of wealthy people make it to the summit each climbing season, swarming up fixed ropes set by hundreds of Sherpas.
Why so many people are attempting to climb the Everest? Modern climbing gear makes it possible.
The ropes, crampons and ice axes are lighter, stronger and less likely to develop faults. Then there are gloves and boots that are electrically heated to reduce the chance of frostbite. With Vibram on the soles of boots to increase grip, Goretex for lighter clothes and nylon for ropes, the climb has become less taxing.
Meanwhile, Nepal today launched a new system of providing identity cards to all summiteers of Mount Everest. The first batch of identity cards were distributed to famous Sherpa mountaineers.
The government also organising various programmes to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the first ascent of Mount Everest. As a part of that, a photo exhibition about the celebrated mountain opened at Nepal Tourism Board today.
Making this climbing season a memorable year, Arunima Sinha (in picture), a former national level volleyball player who had lost one of her legs after being thrown off a moving train, created history last Tuesday by becoming the first Indian amputee to conquer the Everest.
Arunima was pushed out of coach of the Padmawati Express for resisting a chain-snatching attempt by some criminals, while travelling from Lucknow to Delhi on April 12, 2011. Hit by a passing train she was seriously injured. In a bid to save her life, doctors had to amputate her left leg below the knee. She now wears an artificial leg.