Mountaineering & Expeditions

Tragedy On Everest | Four Dead in Four Days On The World’s Highest Mountain

Thirty others, thought to be suffering from frostbite and altitude sickness, remain on Mt. Everest

Photo – iStock

Four people have died in four days on Mount Everest in Nepal, as significant numbers of climbers tried to make the most of a weather window. Two other people are missing, and thirty more have fallen ill.

On Thursday 19th May, 25-year-old Phurba Sherpa fell to his death on the mountain. Reports suggest that he was completing maintenance work on one of the main routes around 150 metres from the summit of Everest when he fell.

36-year-old Dutch climber Eric Arnold died the following day on Friday 20th May. Arnold had successfully reached the summit of Everest and was heading back down when he died.  Tashi Lakpa Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks – the group Arnold was climbing with – said that his death was due to a heart attack.

“It’s the first time the mountain had been opened to commercial expeditions for two years following the 2015 earthquake and the 2014 avalanche which killed 16 sherpas.”

On Saturday 21st May, Dr Maria Strydom, also climbing with Seven Summit Treks, started suffering with severe altitude sickness. The 34-year-old, who was a professor at Monash University in Australia, had reached the Camp Four, the final camp before the summit, when the condition struck. Rescue attempts to reach Strydom failed. She died before she could be brought down to Camp Three, 1,200 metres further down the mountain.

Altitude sickness also claimed the life of Subash Paul on Sunday 22nd May. The 44-year-old was at Base Camp Two when the illness started. The team that Paul was climbing with, made up of three fellow climbers from India and two sherpas, also had two members – Paresh Chandra Nath and Coutam Ghosh – go missing on Saturday night. The pair are currently unaccounted for.

Photo: iStock

The Nepalese Tourism Department have said that it was not possible to send a helicopter to look for the two missing men, because of how high there were up the mountain. Helicopters can’t fly over a certain altitude because the air is too thin. Sunita Harizan – the fourth member of the team – has successfully been rescued, and is undergoing treatment at Base Camp.

The BBC are also reporting that 30 further people currently on Everest are suffering from altitude sickness or frostbite.

Climbers from around the world had been taking advantage of good conditions on Mount Everest since the start of May, following the start of climbing season there in April. Reports suggest between 300 and 400 climbers have tried to scale the world’s tallest mountain since May 11th.

These increased numbers may be the reason why there is currently such a high incident rate. Altitude sickness, along with snow blindness and fatigue are common problems for people climbing Everest, although most make a full recovery.

It’s the first time the mountain had been opened to commercial expeditions for two years, following the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015, which killed 18 climbers and sherpas, and the avalanche that killed 16 guides the previous year.

Our thoughts are with the friends and families of those affected by the events on Mount Everest this weekend.


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