Of course, because 5,048 of the 6,214 summits have been in the 2000s, there are more actual deaths: 69 since 2000, vs. 59 in the 90s.
Ellen Miller, the first American woman to climb the mountain from both sides, agrees that safety innovations have made the climb less risky than it was decades ago.
"Armchair mountaineers really generalize a lot about Mount Everest," Miller said. "They say, oh, it's so dangerous now because of the crowds. But my perception is that it's safer now than it was 50 years ago."
The most obvious safety innovation is much improved weather forecasting and communication. Other factors, such as improved responsibility among commercial outfitters, using established routes, and better partnership with sherpas, probably also play a role.
Some think that with today's forecasting, the 1996 tragedy might have been avoided. A surprise storm hit Everest and eight people died during a two-day span in May.
Today, not only are the predictions better, but communication is fairly simple: Cell phone antennas were installed in base camp in 2010. Arnette's team delayed their summit by a week last year because they knew a front was moving in.