First Time Since 1974, Nobody Will Stand Atop Mount Everest

The news this week that alpinist Nobukazu Kuriki has abandoned his Everest summit attempt pretty much seals the deal.


This year, 2015, will be the first in 41 years that no human has stood on the summit of Mount Everest.

Climbers attempt the summit of the world’s highest peak in the spring and fall. But earlier this year, a massive earthquake in Nepal devastated the country and shut the spring climbing season down in April, when avalanches on Mount Everest resulted in a tragic death toll. (See our coverage, “Earthquake On Mount Everest,” from April 25, 2015.)

This week, Outside magazine and other sources reported that weather forced the Japanese alpinist, Kuriki, to descend from a high point on the mountain, giving up on his summit attempt.

No one else is expected to start a summit push in 2015, making this the first year since 1974 that no climber has reached the top.

Nobukazu Kuriki (center) earlier this month in Nepal

Just three weeks ago it looked like Kuriki might make it to the summit as the lone 2015 climber. (We covered his expedition in an article, “Mount Everest: ‘Open’ For Fall Climbing Season.”)

But poor weather — and, we estimate, a lack of on-mountain infrastructure, including ladders over crevasses and fixed ropes — caused Kuriki to turn around on Sept. 26th.

Abandoned Attempt

Outside magazine reported “though he wanted to prove that the mountain was still climbable, the 33-year-old mountaineer said he could not continue without assuming an unacceptable risk.”

Kuriki said, “I realized if I kept going, I wouldn’t be able to come back alive. It took too much time to move in deep, deep snow.”

Will the 2016 climbing season proceed as usual, or does the world’s highest peak need a moment of pause?

Tragically, mother nature seems to have answered that for this year. But, if we need to guess, human ambition and a desire to conquer will likely trump caution once the permits are sold and spring 2016 rolls around.

Banning Inexperienced Climbers

However, it looks like the government of Nepal is taking steps to limit potential future catastrophes. This week, the tourism ministry of Nepal announced it is considering new regulations that would turn inexperienced climbers away, not allowing them to purchase a permit to climb Everest.

As reported by Adventure Journal and other sources, the ministry has proposed disallowing anyone lacking mountaineering experience above 6,500 meters on their resume. In other words, you would need to climb another very big mountain before coming to the world’s biggest one.

The ban, which would only affect the Nepal side of the mountain, would also limit people less than 18 years old, over 75 years old, as well as anyone dealing with disabilities. The goal is to make Everest safer ostensibly by putting only experienced and fit mountaineers on the peak.

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.