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Concerns grow over overcrowding on Mount Everest with one Brit missing

Concerns are growing over the increasing popularity of extreme tourism in locations such as Mount Everest after a British man and his guide went missing on the mountain.

Daniel ‘Dan’ Paterson, 40, reached the summit of the world’s tallest peak last week but disappeared with his Sherpa guide, Pas Tenji, 23, shortly after, prompting his partner to create a GoFundMe with a target of $150,000.

Rebecca Woodhead, who described herself as Paterson’s “proud” partner, said she had been quoted the sum by Global Rescue “a world-renowned organisation specialising in search and rescue operations in extreme environments.”

An official has since said that as the pair fell while descending from “a very high altitude” it “is not possible to search for the missing climbers right now”.

This is because the fall took place on the side of Everest controlled by China, “which needs coordination” to be searched.

News of the disappearance was followed by shocking images showing the scale of overcrowding on the mountain’s notorious Death Zone.

It is an area where people are not advised to spend more than 16 to 20 hours – with 48 hours being considered the absolute maximum time.

Vinayak Jaya Malla, who reached the summit on the same day (21 May) as Paterson and his Sherpa disappeared shared footage of a cornice – that is, an overhanging of snow – collapsing under the weight of a queue of climbers.

“As the cornice collapsed, four climbers nearly perished yet were clipped onto the rope and self-rescued. Sadly, two climbers are still missing. We tried to traverse yet it was impossible due to the traffic on the fixed line,” he wrote.

“Many climbers were stuck in the traffic and oxygen was running low. I was able to start breaking a new route for the descending traffic to begin moving slowly once again.”

Jaya Malla said this trip to the summit, which was not his first, “felt different” with “soft snow, many cornices and rocky sections covered in snow.”

Trips to Mount Everest can be purchased by willing adventurers from various companies.

Adventure Consultants charges $73,000 for a trip to the summit. However, climbers with the company must have adequate fitness and prior climbing experience to be accepted. The price includes a one-to-one Sherpa guide, who is genetically suited to surviving at high altitudes.

Under current regulations, anyone willing to pay $11,000 (£8,900) for a permit to climb Everest will be given one.

Nepal’s Supreme Court is now calling on the government to limit the number of passes issued in light of overcrowding.

Last year was the deadliest ever year for climbers on Mount Everest, with 17 people losing their lives in unconnected incidents.

It was also the year when a heroic Sherpa saved an unnamed Malaysian climber who got into trouble on the mountain.

Gelje Sherpa said the other climbers and guides were “just focused on the summit” while the climber was “about to die” on the 2023 climb.

“No one was helping him, no friends, no oxygen, no Sherpas with him, no guides – so this is quite dangerous for him,” Gilje said.

The Sherpa, who was guiding another client to the summit, then made the decision to save the climber, which saw him carry the unidentified man 1,900 feet down the mountain.

After this six-hour descent, the Sherpa was joined by another guide and they took turns carrying the man before he reached safety.

Daniel Paterson from Wakefield has been missing since last week
Daniel Paterson from Wakefield has been missing since last week (GoFundMe)

The current disappearance of Dan and his Sherpa guide comes amid the news that another billionaire is building a submersible to visit the wreck of the Titanic after a similar expedition last year claimed the lives of five people.

Like many climbers of Everest, those who wanted to visit the wreckage of the Titanic paid a handsome sum of $250,000 each.

At the time of writing, Paterson’s search and rescue GoFundMe has raised over £121,000, with his partner Woodhead revealing in a recent update that Global Rescue are “no longer able to assist in the search” because of where the men went missing.

“We are in touch with other search and recovery organisations and have received updated proposals. We are currently doing research and due diligence,” she wrote.

The Independent has reached out to Global Rescue, Adventure Consultants and the Sherpa Guide Service for further comment.

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