What It's Like to Breathe the Thin Air on Everest

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Are long lines of climbers on Mount Everest to blame for a shocking number of fatalities?

Experts are calling the climb to the top of Mount Everest a “death race” or a “zoo” after 11 climbers lost their lives in the last 10 days.

While the altitude and harsh conditions near the summit can be dangerous for inexperienced climbers, many are pointing to overcrowding as the reason for the recent deaths.

“A lot of people want to climb it,” said Dr. Jon Kedrowski, who reached the summit of Mount Everest three times in the past. “If you all choose the same day, that’s not a good thing.”

Kedrowski spoke to Inside Edition from his hotel room in Kathmandu, Nepal, shortly after his most recent expedition to the summit.

He explained this year has been busier than most, since weather only allowed for a couple of good climbing days and there is only a small window of time every May where it’s even possible to attempt the climb.

“You have a lot of people waiting in line, running out of oxygen and there’s a lot of different ailments that do happen to people at high altitudes,” he said. “People get antsy. They’ve been in base camp for six weeks or more.”  

Kedrowski also explained that at the summit, there’s only 30% the amount of oxygen as there is at sea level.

“The air is very thin. Most climbers have to use bottled oxygen to get up there,” he said. “If anything goes wrong, if you’re standing in line, you have a dream to make it to the summit and your oxygen runs out, then that’s the result. People do die.”

English climber Robin Fisher posted his concerns about the overcrowding on social media shortly before his own death atop Mount Everest.

“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,” Fisher said on Instagram.

While he succeeded in his mission, reaching the peak of Mount Everest, he died during the descent.

Kedrowski explained the normal protocol when it comes to fallen climbers is to bypass their corpses.

“It takes a whole army to get their bodies down. It’s safer to just leave them,” he explained. “That puts other peoples’ lives at risk. It’s almost like being in outer space. There’s really nothing anybody can do for you.”

Cory Richards, an elite alpinist and athlete, agreed, telling Inside Edition that perished climbers "become a 200-pound piece of ice."

“To move them is a huge burden and endangers people in the process. The easier thing to do is to leave the or move them just enough so people can get by,” Richards said.

Inside Edition Senior Correspondent Les Trent went inside a high altitude chamber to experience what conditions on Mount Everest are like. Matt Formato, director of Mile High Training, joined Trent at Fusion Physical Therapy & Sports Performance for the demonstration.

Check out the video about to see.

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