Oxygen bottle theft rampant in high camps of Mt Everest

Solukhumbu, May 31

It could be life-threatening if anyone on a mountaineering expedition gets his or her life-saving materials lost or stolen. Mountaineers scaling Mt Everest are worried about incidents of oxygen bottle theft, a trend that has lately been on the rise in the high camps.

Climbers have complained that the trend of oxygen tanks getting stolen from the high camp has made matters worse.

“There is nothing we can do when oxygen bottles, food items and cooking gas cylinders are stolen by breaking the tent lock,” said Phurwa Namgyal Sherpa, general secretary of Nepal National Mountain Guide Association.

There are instances when one had to return midway to the base camp as there was no alternative but to return after the loss of the life-saving oxygen bottle, he said.

“The problem is becoming serious up in the high camps. I have kept on hearing about incidents of oxygen tank thefts from expedition teams,” said Tshering Tenjing Sherpa, a guide.

In general, a mountaineer needs at least seven oxygen tanks throughout an expedition up and down the highest peak.

One inhales at different rates, if he or she inhales at the maximum rate, a tank lasts for up to five hours.

Experts have warned that such tendency could result in disaster in the long run.

The stolen oxygen bottles are taken down to the base camp and sold, guides said.

“The market for such stolen oxygen tanks seems to be quite good. The government or concerned authorities must focus on the problem,” said Tshering.