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Dave and Dujanovic: Should we regulate extreme recreation like Mount Everest?

This handout photo taken on May 22, 2019 and released by climber Nirmal Purja's Project Possible expedition shows heavy traffic of mountain climbers lining up to stand at the summit of Mount Everest.

11 people have died while climbing Mount Everest in 2019. A Utah man was among those killed after he reached the top of the mountain earlier this year.

Overcrowding is becoming a big concern for those climbing the mountain. The Nepal government has issued more than 380 permits and don’t plan on halting access to the tallest peak anytime soon.

While permits are still being issued, the number of inexperienced guides is also increasing.

Hikers can’t get down the peak quick enough before running out of oxygen due to a backlog of climbers trying to get down the mountain. In an area known as the “death zone” near the top of Everest, hikers can only linger for a few minutes before they are at risk of pulmonary edema when the lungs fill with liquid.

These deaths propose the question: should we limit and regulate access to dangerous outdoor activities?

Should Mount Everest be shut down to climbers? 

Dave Noriega, KSL co-host of the Dave and Dujanovic show says no, “because people will always find something dangerous to do. You’re never going to make Mount Everest or The Grand Canyon safe.”

What makes it okay to do risky outdoor activity is “having a permit or someone with a certain level of expertise,” to keep you as safe as possible during your trip, says Noriega.

In the case of Mount Everest, because of the increase of permits granted, there’s an opportunity for guides to come in with little experience and/or zero certification to lead the summit.

Debbie Dujanovic, KSL co-host of the Dave and Dujanovic show, says when you’ve already forked over a ton of money and receive an inexperienced guide as the lead “you’re going to put up with a guide who doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

There are lines of people leading up to the peak of Everest.

“It reminds me of a line at Disneyland with a 12,000-foot drop on the other side,” says Dujanovic.

Dave believes that “you’re totally focused on the thrill” of whatever dangerous recreational activity you’re engaged in and you should be hyperaware of the risks.

Something has to change if there’s ‘Disneyland type lines like you’re waiting for ‘It’s a Small World,’ but Mount Everest,” says Dujanovic.

Regulating permits 

Debbie wants to know if there should be “a limit to the amount of permits issued for all the places we recreate in,” regardless if it’s Mount Everest or Delicate Arch.

“You need the space to maneuver. When you have too many people, it becomes impossible. Making last minute adjustments is impossible,” says Noregia, “giving away too many permits is a massive issue.”

What is the right number of permits to give away?

Nature is there for people to enjoy, “but we have to make sure that we’re not crossing the line and making it dangerous for people,” Noregia explains.

Both hosts believe “there needs to be some kind of regulation for these ‘extreme’ hikes” and other recreational activities.

“We gotta make sure that there isn’t overcrowding, because that leads to rushing and mistakes.”

More to the Story

Dave and Dujanovic dive into the extreme recreation activities to do in Utah.  Should Utah officials start regulating the number of people who can hike Angel’s Landing and other trails?

Tune into Dave & Dujanovic every day from 9 a.m to noon on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM / 1160 AM Monday through Thursday.