CLIMBERS FALL SICK IN EVEREST QUEST
Rush to climb mountain leads to illnesses
At least 30 climbers have developed frostbite or become sick near the summit of Mount Everest, a mountaineering official said yesterday. The news follows two deaths from apparent altitude sickness in recent days.
Most of the sick climbers suffered frostbite while attempting to reach the summit or on their descent, Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha said. Favourable weather has allowed nearly 400 climbers to reach the summit from Nepal since May 11, but the altitude, weather and harsh terrain can cause problems at any time.
Several Sherpa guides carried one sick climber from the highest camp, at nearly 8,000m, to camp two, at 6,400m, where attempts are being made to pick her up with a helicopter, said Pemba Sherpa of the Seven Summit Treks agency in Kathmandu. Seema Goshwami of India had frostbite to her hands and feet at the South Col camp and was unable to move.
“It took a big and risky effort but we were able to save her,” Sherpa said, adding that an Iranian climber identified only as S Hadi had been brought to Kathmandu and was recovering in a hospital.
The two climbers who died were on the same expedition team. It was undecided when and if their bodies would be brought down from the high altitude and it would depend on the team and family members, Pasang Phurba of the Seven Summits said. Carrying bodies down Everest takes at least eight Sherpas since they become frozen and heavier.
The deaths were the first confirmed this year on Everest, during a busy climbing season that follows two years in which the peak was virtually empty due to two fatal avalanches.
Eric Arnold, 35, had enough bottled oxygen with him, as well as climbing partners, but he complained of getting weak and died on Friday night near South Col before he was able to get to a lower altitude, Phurba said. Just hours after Arnold died, Australian climber Maria Strydom also showed signs of altitude sickness on Saturday afternoon before she died, Phurba said.
Thousands of people have summited Mount Everest since it was first conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953. But more than 250 people have died in the attempt.
SUMMIT: More than 250 people have died trying to climb Mount Everest in 60 years