Mountain Climbing: Point of No Return

No matter where they travel, American tourists usually take a bit of the old country with them. One day last week, they took a traffic jam to the top of Mount Everest.

At about 7 a.m., on different sides of the world's tallest mountain, two pairs of U.S. climbers struggled out of their sleeping bags into brilliant sunshine, strapped on their oxygen tanks, and began the slow trek toward the windswept, 29,028-ft. summit. Working up the relatively friendly South Col route were Barry Bishop, 30, a National Geographic photographer, and Luther Jerstad, 26,...

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