The first official ascent of Mount Everest (29,029 ft) was made in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.
Times have changed, and the undertaking has become a world-class sport, with hundreds attempting the effort. The photo, taken on May 23 of this year depicts a “conga line” of climbers ascending the Lhotse Face.
Because of the intense jet stream that hovers near Everest’s summit for much of the year, there are only a few weather windows, often two or three days in late May, when it’s optimal for climbers to make a push for the top—forcing many expeditions to all go for it at the same time.
Crowds on Mount Everest have contributed to several deaths, with climbers being exposed to the wind, cold and lack of oxygen for extended periods of time.
Earlier this week, American climber Don Cash died on Everest hours after he had reached the summit. Cash was one of about 200 people who went to the top of the world that day, and he encountered a traffic jam on his way down. When Cash and his Sherpa guides got to the Hillary Step they were forced to wait their turn for at least two hours. During the wait, 55-year-old Cash passed out and took his final breaths. The cause of death is currently unknown.