AN ARMY doctor who counted 11 dead bodies as she climbed the world’s highest summit fears that the expedition has become “overcrowded and too “glorified”.

Dr Kirsty Watson, from Crooklands, a clinical lead doctor at the Urgent Care Treatment Centre at Westmorland General Hospital, Kendal, conquered Mount Everest last month.

Her fascination with Everest began 10 years ago when she worked as a doctor at the base camp hospital.

Her work included treating severe frostbite cases and other injuries.

In 2015, Dr Watson made her first attempt at climbing the mountain, but the expedition was abandoned after the area was hit by an earthquake.

Along with fellow climbers, she was lucky to escape the boulders which tumbled down on the base camp.

This time, with a small team, Dr Watson managed to climb the tougher north side of Everest, where just 150 ascents are allowed every year.

As she made her way up the 29,000ft mountain the beautiful views and scenes she was witnessing quickly changed into what looked like a war zone.

“From the North Col it’s like a battle zone,” she said. "You just watch people walking around like zombies.”

Even with her experience as an Army doctor in Afghanistan, Dr Watson said nothing could have prepared her for the graphic sights she was about to see.

“I still get flashbacks of the bodies that I saw,” she said.

“At one point I was stuck next to a body on a ladder. It was a climber who had fallen and was suspended by a rope.”

“I counted 11 frozen bodies on the ascent, some of whom had been there for nearly ten years. And I know there was a lot more out there, it was a pretty traumatic experience.”

This year’s Everest climbing season is one of the deadliest on record with 11 people dying on expeditions.

Dr Watson believes that inexperience has a part to play in the number of deaths.

“You can’t be selfish when you’re out there because you’re not only putting yourself at risk but others too,” she said.

“The more time you spend in the death zone the more chances there are that something will go wrong.”

The last stretch to the top is known as the death zone, where the brain and lungs become seriously compromised even with oxygen cylinders worn. Dr Watson said that you had to set yourself a target of 12 hours maximum to reach the summit.

Dr Watson believed climbing the mountain from the south side to the summit had become more dangerous due to overcrowding.

“There are just too many people and something needs to give,” she said.

“The moment you stand still in the queue and you start to get cold, you become compromised.” The army doctor did not want to discourage climbers from taking part in the expedition, but to make them think again.

“People who want to do it should do it for the right reason,” she said. “As long as you’re experienced and prepared then it’s do-able”.

Despite the traumas, Dr Watson said she enjoyed her experience thanks to her Sherpas and the “incredible” team that she had.

“I had lots of lovely moments during the trip,” she said.

“Our team got on so well and our Sherpas were fantastic but I am still a bit traumatised and it has taken the edge off the experience a bit.

“But it hasn’t put off my love for the mountains.”