An American climber died while descending Mount Everest on Monday, a Nepalese official said. So far, 11 climbers have died on the world’s tallest mountain since May 16. However, the Nepal tourism ministry said the toll was nine, PTI reported.

Meera Acharya, a senior official at the tourism department in Nepal, said that Christopher John Kulish, 61, descended the mountain and arrived at the South Col. However, he suddenly had a heart attack and died. The South Col is a climbing route on the mountain, which has experienced “traffic jams” this year.

Two climbers had died on the peak on Saturday, bringing the toll to 10. At least five Indians have died on the mountain since May 16. Two Indians and an Austrian died on Mount Everest on Thursday reportedly due to a situation akin to a “traffic jam” near the summit of the mountain. On Wednesday, an American and an Indian had died due to congestion near the summit. Indian Army soldier Ravi Thakar and another mountaineer, Narayan Singh, had both died at Camp IV on May 16.

There have been reports of overcrowding and queuing climbers near the summit. Climbers usually attempt to scale the Himalayan peaks along with their guides between the months of March and May. The climbing season, which began on May 14, will come to an end on May 31.

The toll on different mountains with a height of over 8,000 metres in Nepal has now crossed 20 this season. Besides the 11 deaths on Mount Everest, four climbers have died on Mount Makalu, three on Mount Kanchenjunga, and one each on Mount Lhotse, Mount Annapurna and Mount Cho Oyu.

‘Don’t allow climbers without basic skills’

Ameesha Chauhan, a climber who has been hospitalised due to frostbite, told AFP on Tuesday that climbers who do not possess basic skills should not be allowed to climb the mountain. “I saw some climbers without basic skills fully relying on their Sherpa guides,” she told the agency from a hospital in Kathmandu. “The government should fix the qualification criteria.”

Chauhan, referring to the picture of a “traffic jam” that has gone viral, said that some climbers continue the journey despite low oxygen supply. “Some climbers died due to their own negligence,” she said.

The 29-year-old Chauhan had to wait 20 minutes to descend the mountain, but others took hours, she said.