Eleven people have died so far on six 8000’ers in Nepal, even before the usual weather window opens between May 20 and 25, when most climbers head for the summits.
That statistic is really too much, considering that no storm has caught teams near the summit, as on Everest in 1996; there have been no avalanches or falling seracs, as in 2014 in the Khumbu Icefall; and nor has an earthquake shaken loose the mountain, as in 2015.
In fact, only two of the deaths this season were clearly an accident: Phujung Bhote Sherpa fell to his death in a crevasse while fixing ropes on Cho Oyu and Irish climber Seamus Lawless slipped and fell near the Balcony on the south side of Everest.
In the second case, it is hard to tell what went wrong on a section which is usually sewn with ropes: a gear failure? an error when clipping to the ropes due to exhaustion or AMS? Significantly, Lawless’s has been the only accident on Everest itself. The only other fatality was Indian Ravi Thakar, who was found dead in his tent at the South Col.
In the weeks leading up to the largest Mt Everest push ever, there have been eight very recent deaths, and three missing climbers. The deaths have occurred on Everest, Cho Oyu, Annapurna, Makalu, Kanchenjunga, and Lhotse. They’ve included two people making bids without supplemental oxygen, a sherpa and five Indian climbers.
An Irish climber, Seamus Sean Lawless, 39, went missing at 27,500 feet when he became separated from his group. Witnesses report that he fell near the Balcony, a key feature on the route, then disappeared. Search efforts were called off Friday, when high winds returned to the peak, though friends and family have started a GoFundMe page to help pay for continued search-and-rescue efforts.
And Indian climber Ravi Thakar died inside his tent from an altitude-related illness at the 26,000-foot South Col after summiting.
At 28,169 feet, this mountain is known as one of the more difficult 8,000-meter peaks. This week, two Indian climbers, Biplab Baidya and Kuntal Karar, died from altitude-related issues.
Chilean Rodrigo Vivanco is presumed dead after getting separated from his group; he never arrived at camp after summiting.
The well-known Peruvian climber, Richard Hidalgo, was found dead in his tent at 20,669 feet on Makalu. He’d spent the previous day with a Sherpa team installing a fixed line for safety. He was climbing without supplemental oxygen.
Indian climber Narayan Singh died of altitude illness at 26,900 feet.
Dipankar Ghos, 52, from Kolkata, India, is missing after he summited on Friday.
Bulgarian climber Ivan Yuriev Tomov was found dead in his tent after summiting Lhotse.
Phujung Bhote Sherpa died after falling into a crevasse while fixing rope near Camp 2.
Chinese climber Wui Kin Chin died two days after being rescued from 27,500 feet up Annapurna, considered the deadliest of the fourteen highest peaks. He’d spent three days stranded after developing an altitude-related illness.
So, why are there so many deaths this year already? What will the numbers be like once the push opens up? Read more here.
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