Everester blames rules violation for mountaineering deaths

Kolkata: Santosh Yadav, the first woman to climb Mount Everest twice, on Sunday blamed commercialisation for the series of deaths which has plagued mountaineering this season and created a bad publicity for the adventure sport. Besides the death of an Australian woman and a Dutch man in May this year due to frostbite and altitude sickness, a few Indians also lost their lives trying to etch their names in history. "When I climbed the Everest in 1992, three people fell sick. Out of them two died. The lesson I learnt there was if you don't follow rules, then accidents are bound to happen," Yadav told reporters at an event here on Sunday. "The same situation developed in May this year when they (the Australian and Dutch climbers) had left oxygen at the base camp. I always carried excess oxygen with me. There were detractors who used to tell me I can do it without oxygen. But I refused to pay heed to their comments. We cannot attempt something without foolproof precaution and preparation," she added. Yadav feels the ease with which mountaineers nowadays attempt to climb the Everest is not good for their overall development. "Today's situation in mountaineering is we are dependent on others. When we used to climb, we used to find our own way. Girls don't do that, but I used to. Now sherpas act as navigators, but during our time the case was different." "There are companies who plan and decide on the route. When we used to climb, we used to plan the route. How to negotiate roads, and everything was done by us. I used to brief others, plan contours," she said. Though not totally running down commercialisation which has entered the sport of mountaineering nowadays, Yadav stressed that it was best not to let the basics of climbing be affected. "I'm not running down commercialisation totally. But one has to follow the basics of climbing." "It took us 15 days to reach the base. Now people avail helicopters and take flights. We used to practise gradual climbing. Sherpas have started opening roads since 1996. I am not fond of this," she said. "Also the cost of mountaineering now is much more than what it used to be. Dreams of many are shattered. Overall, I feel the charm is lost if everything is spoon fed, and chances of accidents are much more." In August, Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod said they had achieved a lifelong goal by becoming the first Indian couple to summit of Mount Everest. But later, Nepalese authorities said the Rathods, both police officers in the Indian state of Maharashtra, had doctored photographs submitted to the government in applying for a certificate of a successful climb.  The couple were barred from climbing Nepal's mountains for 10 years. On the false claims about climbing which are on the rise, Yadav said: "We used to climb at least 7,000 metres to be deemed fit to meet the basic mark. Now the mark is money. Chances of accidents are more because they remain amateurs." "In case of the false claims about climbing also, I feel no joy can be derived from that. One should not aim to reach the summit. Rather, the desire to scale the top of the world is what should motivate mountaineers," she added.