Traffic Jam on Mount Everest

4 Die in Mount Everest Bottleneck

Mount Everest Lesson PlanFour climbers died over the weekend trying to climb Mount Everest. The deaths are being blamed on a “traffic jam” involving a long line of climbers who had been trying to reach the peak during a small window following some bad weather. It’s summit season, and over 200 climbers attempted to reach the top of the world at the same time. Climbers are assigned permits, but Nepalese officials can do little to prevent a deadly bottleneck that results based on weather conditions. Some climbers do not plan for windstorms or traffic and do not carry enough oxygen to make it back to base camp. While helpful Sherpas do their best to convince at-risk climbers to turn around, many climbers refuse to give up having come so close.

Authentic Materials

Do you enjoy using authentic materials in the classroom? The Guardian’s article Everest ‘traffic jam’ could happen again provides an interesting topic for discussion. If you teach lower levels, summarize the article in your own words. Then have a discussion about it. Here are a few questions to discuss with your students:

  • Why can’t officials in Nepal prevent traffic jams?
  • What is a “bottleneck”?
  • What is “altitude sickness”?
  • Why do you think people risk their lives for extreme sports?
  • What is the risk of summiting later in the day?
  • How is the term “window” sometimes used in relation to an “opportunity”?
  • What does a “Sherpa” do?
  • What do environmentalists say about the conditions on Mt. Everest?
  • The cost of the full climb has been estimated between $35,000 (most experienced) -$100,000 per climber. Could this be why people risk their lives in the last few hours?

Advanced learners may also be interested in the related opinion piece, “The Dangers of an Overcrowded Everest”. If your learners need to practise paraphrasing, this piece could be a good reading to use.

“[S]taying alive is more important than reaching the summit.” ~ Andy Cave for the Guardian

Related in the ESL-Library
Discussion Starters: Extreme Sports
Famous Places: Mount Everest
Famous Places: Kilimanjaro
Previously in Something to Talk About: Airbags for Extreme Sports

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  1. ESL Library Staff says:

    May 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    According to our Lesson Plan Calendar, the first ascent of Mount Everest was on May 29, 1953 by Edmund Hilary. Next Tuesday may be a good day to cover it in class!

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