Rev Nick Donnelly

I’m against the nanny state involving itself in the choices people make about their sporting lives. Many leisure activities entail an element of risk to life or limb, including sports enjoyed in our own town of Barrow — rugby, kite surfing, fell and marathon running have all been occasions of injury and death, even if this is rare. The state shouldn’t restrict these sports because people get injured or killed. But I think the dangers of climbing Everest put it in a different category. The risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke or exhaustion increases the longer climbers are exposed to the Death Zone. This is why the photograph of the long queue of climbers snaking up to the summit of Everest is so horrifying.

My concerns about the morality of climbing Everest increased when accounts emerged of the dying and dead being climbed over by the conveyor belt of climbers pushing to the summit. It is immoral not to come to the assistance of the dying, and degrading to treat the dead with such disrespect.

A moral life includes treating one’s own body and the bodies of others with respect because human life is a precious gift from God; and the human person, body and soul, shares in the immeasurable dignity of being created in the image of God. From this perspective, there is a point where acceptable risk becomes irresponsible recklessness that is morally questionable. That point was reached on Everest when climbers died as a consequence of long queues and the dying were abandoned. Climbers need to address these moral issues.

Peter Grenville

If I decided to clamber onto the parapet of Walney Bridge and stroll along, you’d hopefully tell me to get down immediately – it’s dangerous.

If I fell off, you’d be forgiven for saying you warned me, and that I was a fool for putting myself at risk like that.

What if I’d spent years practising on the top of a low brick wall? Or been trained by an expert? Or had the right equipment, did it when the conditions were right, and had a permit to do so?

I’d wager that you’d still say I chose to put my own life in danger.

Scaled up to a mountainous level, is there much difference between my hypothetical bridge wander, and someone choosing to attempt Everest? As far as I can tell, no-one who has died on the massive mountain was forced into going up – they did it out of choice, for personal fulfilment and adventure. To take on an incredible physical challenge and overcome the danger to achieve something amazing.

It seems that a variety of reasons are behind the large rise in deaths there this spring, including weather delays, inexperienced climbers, cost-cutting competition leading to inexperienced guides, liaison officers not showing up and subsequent bad crowd-management.

Exhausted climbers, running low on oxygen, queuing for hours to attempt the final ascent – that’s a recipe for disaster.

But everyone on Everest is there because they want to be. It’s a hugely dangerous environment, and ultimately you’re responsible for your own safety, be that training, equipment, guides, planning, fitness, oxygen supplies... whatever.

It is still a big risk, no matter how well-prepared you are. But it’s up to the individual to do everything they can to mitigate that. At any point before or during, they can choose to abandon the ascent if they believe the risks are too high. Ultimately, it’s still their choice if they go ahead.

Louise Allonby

On the day of the Queen’s coronation, Everest was conquered for the first time by a Brit – and the headline writers had a dilemma of how to combine these two momentous occasions.

And as many people will remember, the classic headline “All this – and Everest too” appeared on the day after the Coronation. Reaching the top of Everest was that big an event.

No longer, if that jaw-dropping photo of hordes of climbers queuing to get to the top of is anything to go by.

With thousands of climbers now heading to Everest each year – and paying up to £45,000 a pop for the privilege, if the press reports are anything to go by – it is no wonder that the number of fatalities is going up.

As the business of getting climbers up Everest gets more competitive, less-experienced Sherpas are being hired to lead expeditions – with more and more mountaineers perishing on the trek to the peak.

But apart from the risk of loss of life – or fingers and toes to frostbite – it’s hard now to see quite what the appeal is of climbing Everest these days, if, on getting to the top, you have to wait in a queue to get there.

As one famous and experienced climber (who has done the ascent of Everest the proper way, without supplementary oxygen) pithily put it: where’s the sense of achievement in spending hours staring at another climber’s backside in a queue?

Sadly, safety is coming second to the lure of income for the people in this part of the world; but with an increasing number of people prepared to pay top dollar to get a selfie from the highest peak in the world, who can blame them?

The truly unedifying aspect of all this, of course, is that climbers are actually stepping over the freezing corpses of their fellow adventure seekers to do it.

Scaling Everest is hardly a high point for humanity any more.