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Business is booming at the top of the world

The 8,848 m peak has been scaled 3,000 times and this spring season is a record breaker with nearly 530 people climbing the Mount Everest.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON JUL 22, 2007 01:39 PM IST

Fancy standing on the top of Mount Everest?

If you have previous high-mountain experience, an understanding boss and about 40,000 dollars to spare, Russell Brice, a New Zealander and leading Himalayan expedition organisers, can probably help.

First conquered in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the 8,848-metre peak has since been scaled around 3,000 times, and this spring season was a record breaker with around 530 people getting to the top.

Despite the growing number of climbers jockeying for space on the small summit, climbing Everest is still an incredibly demanding and potentially fatal challenge. "It's not just about fitness. You have to be physically fit, you also have to be mentally fit," Brice told AFP.

"You need to be able to have determination, to know your own body and ability, how far you can go before you have to turn around, how far you can go before you fall over and die," said the 55-year-old.

Seven people died on the mountain this spring, and last year 11 perished.

With just one-third of the oxygen getting into the lungs compared to at sea level, Everest's "death zone" is littered with the corpses.

Brice vets his clients and requires them to have a thorough medical examination, provide a risumi of climbing experience and sign a contract that stipulates they must do what he says even if it means turning back just metres from the summit.

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