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Everest ‘traffic jam’ survivor calls for stricter rules

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KATHMANDU: Ms Ameesha Chauhan, a survivor of the Everest "traffic jam" who is recovering from frostbite, said climbers without basic skills should be barred to prevent a recurrence of this year's deadly season.

Ten people have died in little more than two weeks after poor weather cut the climbing window, leaving climbers waiting in long queues to the summit, risking exhaustion and running out of oxygen.

Nepal issued a record 381 Everest permits this season. The permits cost US$11,000 (S$15,100) each.

Several hundred of the mountaineers are not properly trained, take poor decisions and put themselves and others at risk, Ms Chauhan said.

The 29-year-old Indian had to wait 20 minutes to descend from the 8,848m peak, but others were held up for hours.

"I saw some climbers without basic skills fully relying on their Sherpa guides.

"The government should fix the qualification criteria," she told AFP in Kathmandu's general hospital, with all the toes on her left foot black and blue and her face weather-worn.

"Only trained climbers should be granted the permit to climb Everest."

At least four deaths on the world's highest mountain have been blamed on over-crowding, with teams waiting sometimes for hours in the "death zone" where the cold is bitter, the air dangerously thin and the terrain treacherous.

This year's Everest toll is the highest since 2014-15 when huge earthquakes triggered devastating avalanches.

Ms Chauhan said: "Some climbers died due to their own negligence. They insisted on reaching the top even if their oxygen was running out, which risks their life."

Adventure film-maker Elia Saikaly said on Instagram on Sunday that he had reached the summit and "cannot believe what I saw up there".

"Death. Carnage. Chaos. Lineups. Dead bodies on the route and in tents at camp 4. People who I tried to turn back who ended up dying. People being dragged down. Walking over bodies," he wrote.

The dead included climbers from India, the US, Britain, Austria and Nepal.

One of the Indians who died, 27-year-old Nihal Bagwan, had to wait for more than 12 hours and died on his way back from the summit. - AFP