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Peak Hour: The Unbelievable Traffic Jam On Mt Everest Today

Incredible images have emerged of a shocking log jam atop the world's highest peak.

In the picture posted by mountaineer Nirmal Purja, a long line of climbers clogs the final ridge leading to the 8848 metre high summit of the world's highest mountain.

The Everest climbing season is very brief, and can be as little as two weeks in late May. This is the period between the storms of winter and spring, and the onset of the summer monsoon, when the mountain is often shrouded in fog.

That's why everyone is right there, right now. And for the record, they're queued up right at the spot where the Hillary Step used to be -- a steep rock face which was the last major obstacle before the summit. It crumbled in the 2015 earthquake, making the final ascent much easier.

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So how many climbers are actually up there right now?

We can't say exactly, but this year, Nepalese authorities issued 381 permits to climb Everest. Local guides and Sherpas do not require a permit, and there is usually a ratio of one guide or Sherpa for each international climber. That means more than 700 people would be attempting the summit this week, which has been a week of fine weather on Everest.

Many of those summit attempts would have been yesterday -- as Purja's image clearly shows. Indeed, reports suggest there were some 250-300 climbers attempting the summit on Thursday, when the photo was taken. This is said to have caused delays of up to three hours.

Despite the long wait, Purja summited successfully, and is on track to be the first person to climb all the world's 14 highest peaks (all above 8000 metres -- 10 in the Himalayas, four in Pakistan's Karakoram range) in one climbing season.

He's well on the way, and you can get behind him here.

Contact the author asharwood@networkten.com.au