Rush to climb moun­tain leads to ill­nesses

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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

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