After watching Everest this weekend, and reading the books about the 1996 events, I was wondering just one question. Why would you not carry 3 or 4 bottles of O's to get you up and back? Or why would a Leader such as Hall or Fisher not had enough carried up in reserve. Granted the ropes were not fixed, but with the amount of traffic that year, log jams were going to happen. From what I've read in both books on the subject, it appears safety went out the window in the attempt to put as many on top as possible.

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    Several people have tried/still try to climb high peaks using "seige tactics" where weight, etc. concerns are abandoned in the hope that the extra kit will allow them to summit, but typically these have less success than the "fast and light" principles where the minimal kit is taken to move as fast as possible. If you read the history of the early attempts at the summit by the British you'll see they quickly learned that the key to summiting at this altitude is to get up and get down in the fastest possible time (tactics pretty much stolen from the French!).
    – user2766
    Sep 29, 2015 at 8:05
  • If the logistics allows, having oxygen stashes (or even a giant pipe) along the entire route should greatly improve the range of operating parameters (including the possibility of waiting out a storm before ascent/descent).
    – prusswan
    Oct 14, 2015 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


The first reason is weight, you can hardly carry yourself up Everest let alone extra oxygen bottles, in fact as soon as they empty a bottle a lot of people drop it on the ground as litter because they can't be bothered to carry the extra weight any more. Weight is the number one reason garbage gets left on everest, because people either won't or literally can't carry it out under their own power. It's for this reason that bodies are left on Everest, because it is physically impossible to carry them off. Most just get pushed over the edge of a cliff, or left on the side of the trail as milestones to the top (Google "Green boots, Everest") There are regular expeditions on Everest where they send people to do nothing but pick up garbage and pack it off the mountain, most bodies are left behind though. See www.savingmounteverest.org.

Spent oxygen bottles left on Everest
enter image description here

The second reason is cost, one bottle of oxygen that may last you a couple of hours costs over $500 USD, that covers not only the cost of the bottle, but also the cost of getting it up the mountain. Oxygen bottles are typically carried by sherpas to the upper camps where climbers will pick them up to use on summit day.

The last reason is prestige, reaching the summit of the highest mountain on Earth isn't enough for some people, the elite do it without any supplementary oxygen, they even put people in different categories when they summit, those who summited with supplementary oxygen, and those who did not.

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    Considering Everest climbs start around 35k USD, I wouldn't think spending an extra 1k or 2k on oxygen would be an issue? Sep 29, 2015 at 1:51
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    @ChrisMendez It does if you're a janitor and busted your butt for years just to get the 35K to fulfill your dream of going to Everest. By the time a lot of these guys get to the Himalayas their money is already spent. And paying ~$600 an hour really adds up quick. But the biggest thing is of course the weight. You are not going to make it to the top if your bag is heavy, even on oxygen. Another problem some people have is relying too much on it and then running out before getting back down. Many a person has died up there from running out of O's and not having the strength to continue.
    – ShemSeger
    Sep 29, 2015 at 4:25
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    Guides (companies) are also charged for the amount of litter (Oxygen tanks) left behind these days (to try and encourage people to brink them back) so this add's to the cost of the Oxygen.
    – user2766
    Sep 29, 2015 at 8:01
  • @Liam Everest is getting out of control when it comes to garbage, they recently talked about shutting the entire mountain down because of poop, it was becoming a health hazard. They've made it a rule that each climber is required to carry 8kg of trash off the mountain with them, and they are required to pay a $4000 deposit which they loose if they don't follow regulations, but it's still not enough to deter a lot of people from leaving their trash behind.
    – ShemSeger
    Sep 29, 2015 at 15:10
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    Currently Everest has many major problems, it's over crowded, the guides are not overly professional (there has been stories about guiding companies giving clients steroids to get them up and down in as fast a time possible), it's overly commercialised (there's talk of adding regulations to say that a person must have some mountaineering experience to summit, believe it or not lot's of people have never summitted a single high peak before attempting Everest). It's becoming a bit of a laughing stock these days. My first reaction to someone who's climbed Everest is: "Oh, you must be rich"
    – user2766
    Sep 29, 2015 at 15:42

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