Olympic Torch Complicates Everest Climb

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Mount Everest from Base Camp I. Rupert Taylor-Price hide caption

itoggle caption Rupert Taylor-Price

I have a well-documented fear of heights. Seriously, a tall flight of stairs or an abnormally-high curb, and my stomach does cartwheels. That's why the idea of climbing Mt. Everest has always given me the heebie jeebies. So I couldn't even imagine being stuck on Camp II — at 21,300 feet — to make room for the Olympic torch. But that's precisely what's happened to climbers hoping to make the great ascent: they've been barred from the mountain's higher elevations for 10 days until the torch relay is complete. The extreme weather fluctuations on the mountain give climbers a small window of opportunity to make the journey, so the ban may impede their chances of making it to the top safely. What's more, Nepalese soldiers guarding the slopes were given authority to use deadly force to squelch any protests — as a last resort, but, still, not the most favorable conditions to climb the world's highest peak.

Mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears joins us to talk about the conditions on the mountain, and how climbers keep up their morale, even in the toughest situations. If you're a climber or if you've climbed Mount Everest, tell us your story.

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It seems that by imposing this ban, it not only increases the risk for other climbing teams by reducing their window of opportunity, but also for the Chinese team...should they encounter trouble. Having fewer teams on the mountain would greatly reduce the chance of rescue should tragedy strike. Not a brilliant idea, although dictated by political necessity...how about skip the publicity stunt altogether and avoid escalating the risk for all.

Sent by Joe Kimura | 10:54 PM | 4-29-2008