A group of mountaineers has been captured climbing over a dead body on Mount Everest after the 11th person lost their life in 10 days on the world’s highest peak in Nepal.
Adventure filmmaker Elia Saikaly posted a series of images to social media to show the “chaos” that unfolded during the mountain’s infamous “deadly season” over the past fortnight. Mr Saikaly said he “cannot believe what I saw up there”.
“Death. Carnage. Chaos. Line-ups. Dead bodies on the route and in tents at camp 4. People who I tried to turn back who ended up dying. People being dragged down. Walking over bodies,” he wrote.
“Everything you read in the sensational headlines all played out on our summit night.”
He went on to describe the horror of watching climbers step over a dead body.
“The early morning light had revealed the gateway to the summit of Everest and in parallel a human being who had lost his life. Here we all were, chasing a dream and beneath our very feet there was a lifeless soul. Is this what Everest has become?”
Eleven people have died in less than two weeks after poor weather cut the climbing window short, leaving mountaineers waiting in long queues to the summit, risking exhaustion and running out of oxygen.
At least four of the deaths have been blamed on overcrowding with teams sometimes waiting for hours in the “death zone” where the cold is bitter, the air dangerously thin and the terrain treacherous.
The crowding was also laid bare in a photo taken last week by Nirmal Purja, a former Gurkha soldier, of a long queue of climbers snaking up to the summit.
The photo by the head of the Project Possible charity aiming to climb the 14 8000m-plus peaks in the world in seven months has gone viral from his @nimsdai Twitter handle and highlighted the dangers amid the mania to climb Everest.
“Many climbers’ oxygen was running out,” Chauhan said. “Some climbers died due to their own negligence. They insisted on reaching the top even if their oxygen is running out, which risks their life.”
This year’s Everest toll is the highest since 2014-15 when huge earthquakes triggered devastating avalanches.
The latest confirmed death was that of American climber Christopher John Kulish, 62, who died shortly after getting to the top of Mount Everest and achieving his dream of scaling the highest peaks on each of the seven continents, his brother said Monday.
Mr Kulish, a lawyer, died at a camp below the summit during his descent. The cause isn’t yet known.
“He saw his last sunrise from the highest peak on Earth. At that instant, he became a member of the ‘7 Summit Club,’ having scaled the highest peak on each continent,” his brother said in a statement.
Most are believed to have suffered from altitude sickness, which is caused by low amounts of oxygen at high elevation and can cause headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion.
The dead included four climbers from India and two from the United States, and one each from Britain and Nepal. An Irish mountaineer is presumed dead after he slipped and fell close to the summit.
Another Austrian and an Irish climber died on the northern Tibet side. One of the Indians who died on the Nepal side, 27-year-old Nihal Bagwan, had to wait for more than 12 hours and died on his way back from the summit.
American Donald Lynn Cash, 55, collapsed at the summit as he was taking photographs, while Anjali Kulkarni, also 55, died while descending after reaching the top.
Kulkarni’s expedition organiser, Arun Treks, said heavy traffic at the summit had delayed her descent and caused the tragedy.
“She had to wait for a long time to reach the summit and descend,” said Thupden Sherpa. “She couldn’t move down on her own and died as Sherpa guides brought her down.”
AUSTRALIAN CLIMBER FIGHTS FOR LIFE
An Australian climber, who hasn’t been named, has been rescued by Tibetan alpine specialists after being found unconscious on the northern slopes of Mount Everest.
The man was experiencing health problems at an altitude of 7500 metres when he was discovered on Wednesday by a four-person mountaineering crew returning from repair work, The China Daily reported.
The team used a riding yak to help move the climber to a base camp. He was then taken to a hospital in Kathmandu where his condition has since improved.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to the man.
There are 41 teams with a total of 378 climbers permitted to scale Everest during the spring climbing season. An equal number of Nepalese guides are helping them get to the top.
Nepal’s permits this season cost $11,000 each, providing the impoverished Himalayan country with much-needed foreign currency.
At least 140 others were granted permits to climb from the northern flank in Tibet.
Although final numbers are yet to be released with the season set to wrap up this week, this could take the total past last year’s record of 807 people reaching the summit.
— with wires