Climbing on a mountain is an adventure for many enthusiasts, but climbing of the Everest is a lifetime achievement and a very few of the enthusiasts attempt the feat. Of those who attempt the feat, only few make up to the summit. For every 4 successful journeys to the summit, 1 casualty is being recorded. Till now more than 230 people lost their lives while ascending to the top or descending from the hill. And most of the corpses are still lying on the mountain itself. The following facts will make you understand the magnitude of the risk the climbers undertake on the Everest.
DEATH ZONE ON THE EVEREST :
The upper reaches of the mountain are in the death zone. The death zone is a mountaineering term for altitudes above a certain point – around 8,000 m (26,000 ft), or less than 356 millibars (5.16 psi) of atmospheric pressure – where the oxygen level is not sufficient to sustain human life. Many deaths in high-altitude mountaineering have been caused by the effects of the death zone, either directly (loss of vital functions) or indirectly (unwise decisions made under stress or physical weakening leading to accidents). The other main causes of death along with this are Avalanche, storm, exposure and lack of sufficient oxygen.
THE FIRST :
George Mallory, a famous English Mountaineer. In 1924, Mallory fell to his death during a storm while attempting to be the first to reach the summit of Everest. His body was discovered long after in 1999 during the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition. Its debatable whether he was the first person to make the summit as it was not clear whether he was ascending or descending at the time of his death.
SLEEPING BEAUTY :
Hannelore was a German climber who died from exposure and exhaustion in 1979. She was the first woman to die on Mt. Everest. It is believed she stopped to rest and leaned up against her back pack, leaving the body propped in the same posture. Her body is known as Sleeping Beauty. It seems common for the deaths on Everest to occur during a rest or nap. The person falls asleep and never wakes up.
GREEN BOOTS :
Tsewang Paljor was a climber and constable with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. He was part of a three-man group attempting to be the first Indian team to ascend Mt. Everest from the Northeastern route. Unfortunately for them, their timing couldn’t have been worse. The weather during the 1996 season was extremely volatile; that year would ultimately become one of the deadliest on record for Mount Everest climbers. That was called the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. When the storm rolled in, visibility dropped to zero and the temperature dropped. Separated from the climbers in his group and suffering from the cold, Paljor found a small cave and huddled inside for protection from the elements. He was not knowing that it would become his final resting place as he lost his life due to exposure.
Ironically, he became the most famous dead body on the mountain and was a landmark for climbers known as the Green Boots cave because of the green shoes he was wearing. The body was slightly moved to prevent obstruction to climbers. He was a landmark until his body disappeared in 2014.
THE THRILLING STORY OF DAVID AND THE BRAVE SHERPAS :
David Sharp was an English mountaineer who attempted ascent in 2005. When the weather turned and the group wanted to head back, he instead attempted to push on by himself. He eventually reached a small cave and stopped for a rest.
He froze in place. As he lay near death below the summit, he was reportedly passed by 40 other climbers heading both directions.Why did no one stop to help? Coincidentally, David stopped to rest in the same cave as Green Boots; one theory holds the passing climbers might have assumed Sharp was Green Boots. David was eventually discovered by a group of sherpas from a later expedition. However when the sherpas reached David, he was not coherent, badly frostbitten, and only capable of repeating his name and expedition number.
After giving David some oxygen, the sherpas attempted to help him climb down, but in his condition he was unable to stand under his own power. Realizing Sharp was not going to be able to move, the sherpas pulled David into the sunlight, hoping the sun exposure would provide some warmth. The sherpas left David some oxygen and a blanket and quickly retreated to basecamp to report their find. By the time they returned with help, David was dead. The sherpas were heroic in the inclement weather, brave enough to return while others retreated – but it was already too late when they first found him.
SLEEPING COUPLE :
The deceased rest in peace but those who summitted or returned half way will not be in peace except for those few repeat climbers who are brave enough passing by dead bodies again and again.
We may wonder why the bodies go unattended in the way. But to carry the bodies down would cost somewhere near 30,000 $ and also its risking their own lives. The case study was about the SLEEPING COUPLE , Francys Arsenteiv along with her husband Sergei successfully climbed the summit in 1998 and became the 1st American woman to achieve the feat without the use of bottled oxygen. But while descending, Francys suffered a fall due to snow blindness and got separated from her husband. When two other climbers Ian and Cathy saw her alive and screaming for help down the steep hill, they tried to save here by providing oxygen but in vain.
Sergei was not traced until his body was found after an year while trying to reach his wife in the death zone. We can imagine the risk taken by Ian and Cathy in helping Francys. This risk prevents many climbers to help.They both returned to the Everest 8 years later to give a more dignified resting place to her by wrapping her in an American flag and leaving a note from here family.
HIGH CRIMES :
While many of the stories, websites and blogs about Everest focus on the heroism, the mountaineering ethic, the camaraderie among those who climb Everest, the book “HIGH CRIMES” written by reporter Micheal Kodas who is also a mountaineer shows a different side. The primary concept of the book is the tale of a Sherpa guide (sherpa refers to the ethnic group of people living in the northeastern part of Nepal in the valleys of the Himalayas. Most of the climbers and guides in the mountains are Sherpas) who left a paying client to die on the mountain. The book also touches on thefts on the mountain of tents, sleeping bags and especially the expensive and the most coveted oxygen bottles.
DANGEROUS EXPEDITIONS :
1922 British Mount Everest expedition where 7 sherpa climbers died. These were the first reported deaths on the Everest. Hillary and Tenzing became the 1st to reach the summit in the 9th britsih expedition to the Everest. 1996 mount Everest disaster where 15 people were killed due to storm. In April 2015 avalanche occurred as a result of Nepal Earthquake which killed 18 people at a single camp and the number trapped or missing was still unknown as there were 700 to 1000 people on the hill at that time..
The dangerous trend today is that more and more young children and senior citizens are trying to climb the Everest. It was a shock when a 13 year old made the summit in 2010 and became the youngest to climb the Everest. This forced to set a minimum age limit. China doesn’t allow anyone below 18 or above 60. Nepal doesn’t allow below 18 but there’s no maximum age limit.
SACRED HILL :
The Nepalese consider Mount Everest(Saagarmaatha as it is called by them) sacred and do not wish for it to become a graveyard. Parents of some who have perished have asked for the bodies to be left on the mountain, but there is a dilemma as this is against Nepalese law.
As soon as a body can be reached for retrieval, it is then brought down for identification and burial. Those too high for retrieval will have stone tombs (also known as “cairns”) constructed around the corpses to shield them from the elements and the view of other climbers. A few corpses located on shallow ledges were rolled off to be buried in the snow below, away from the trail.
The surprise is that all the climbers attempt to climb the Everest after hearing all these stories and are ready to make these corpses as landmarks. It takes them a long time to conquer the Everest and a far longer time to conquer self.