Everest’s map of carnage is terrifying

It is the most sought-after crown in mountaineering - to reach the summit of Mt Everest.

First conquered in 1953 by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary, getting to the top of Everest has become increasingly popular and dangerous, with 11 fatalities already this year.

The rising death toll is partly attributed to the growing commercialisation of the once sacred - and feared - Everest, but it's also a lethal combination of a lack of experience and bad weather.

An astonishing picture capturing a line of climbers in a queue to the summit was a graphic reminder of how many people are on the mountain at one time in the area that is known to many as the "death zone".

It's a location where you can survive just minutes without an oxygen supply.

And this graphic also paints a grim picture - the locations where each of the 11 climbers died, the majority perishing agonisingly close to the summit.

The climbers come from several countries, from Ireland to Nepal to the United States and had varied levels of climbing experience.

 

Nepal has issued a record number of permits this year, many of whom are trying to exploit a narrow break in the weather to get to the summit.

Danduraj Ghimire, director general of Nepal's Tourism Department, told CNN the main causes of death were due to altitude sickness.

"...which is what happened with most of the climbers who lost their lives this season as well."

Rizza Alee, an Indian mountaineer described the "carnage" this year.

"It has become a death race there because there was (a) massive traffic jam, and people are pushing themselves who are not even capable of doing it," he said in a Reuters interview. "They do it, they try to summit and they, instead of summiting, they kill themselves."

Another climber, Elia Saikaly, reached the summit on May 23 - but just before they reached it and as they passed the Hillary Step, they came across a body of a climber.

The only thing they could do was keep going.

"I cannot believe what I saw up there," Saikaly said of the last hours of his climb in a post on Instagram. "Death. Carnage. Chaos. Lineups. 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. Everything you read in the sensational headlines all played out on our summit night."

 

A long queue of mountain climbers line a path on Mount Everest.
A long queue of mountain climbers line a path on Mount Everest.

 

THE MT EVEREST 11

 

SEAMUS LAWLESS

Seamus 'Shay' Lawless, 39 of Ireland, died just hours after reaching the summit. Tragically, he sent a final text to his expectant wife Pamela from Everest's summit saying "he'd done it, reached the summit and was coming home".

He fell up to 500m during his descent from an altitude of 8300m, in an area known as the balcony. It was his ambition to climb Everest before he turned 40 this July.

Friend Rob Ward told his funeral service: "During the past week, I had the chance to go through a book of previous memories his wife Pam has. It has stories of their hikes they did together as a family with (four-year-old) Emma.

"Shay adored them and he told Emma, 'Don't go growing up on me. Keep staying the way you are until I come back.'

"It is fitting now that Shay's final resting place is on top of the world. Rest in peace my friend."

Other prayers were offered at his funeral for all of those who have lost their lives on Everest.

 

Irish climber Seamus Lawless.
Irish climber Seamus Lawless.

 

RAVI THAKAR

The 28-year-old from India was the first official Mt Everest death of the year and came when Mr Lawless was still missing.

Mr Thakar was found dead inside his tent at Everest Camp 4 at 7,920 metres as his team was resting after a successful summit during the second week of May.

He and Mr Lawless were part of an eight member team. It appeared Mr Thakar died in his sleep - his death came as a shock because he appeared well in the hours before.

Mingma Sherpa, Chairman at Seven Summit Treks, said: "Fellow climbers found him dead inside the tent."

It took several days for his body to be recovered.

 

DONALD CASH

Fifty-five-year-old Donald Cash collapsed due to high altitude sickness after reaching the summit and due to the large number of climbers on the route, it was two hours before his companions could start to bring his body down.

Sherpas who were with him tried frantically to save him, but he could not stand or walk. They tried to drag him to a lower point, but he collapsed again and this time couldn't be revived.

Mr Cash was part of a 15-member expedition led by Chinese climber Yuan Li.

He died soon after achieving one of his goals, which was to scale the "seven summits", the

highest mountains on the seven continents.

Donald Cash achieved one of his goals just before he died.
Donald Cash achieved one of his goals just before he died.

His son Tanner Cash told NBC the family were comforted he died chasing his dreams.

"The last message he sent to me personally was, 'I'm so blessed to be on the mountain I have read about for 40 years!'" he said.

He also sent a final message to his wife, Monette.

"I just wanted to tell you how much I love you and how much I appreciate you supporting my dreams,'' the message said.

Mr Cash was aware how dangerous climbing was. On a previous journey, he lost parts of multiple fingers on his right hand due to frostbite.

 

NIHAL BAGWAN

Nihal Bagwan reached the summit and four hours later died in his tent. Four sherpa guides brought him back to lower camp after he lost energy on the journey down, Al Jazeera reported.

"He was stuck in the traffic for more than 12 hours and was exhausted," Keshav Paudel of Peak Promotion, an expedition agency, told AFP. "Sherpa guides carried him down to Camp IV but he breathed his last there."

He had been waiting in a large line to reach the summit when the exhaustion first began to take hold.

 

ERNAT LANDGRAF

Austrian climber Ernst Landgraf, 64, died hours after fulfilling his dream of scaling Everest, according to his obituary and funeral announcement placed by his family.

The obituary said he lived for his wife and children, and his love of climbing.

 

ANJALI KULKARNI

Another climber who died descending from the summit, Anjali Kulkarni was with her husband when she fell ill.

The 54-year-old climber was part of the six-member expedition.

Her death is also being attributed, at least in part, to the major queues and waiting times near the summit.

Kulkarni's expedition organiser, Arun Treks, said heavy traffic at the summit delayed her descent.

"She had to wait for a long time...she couldn't move down on her own and died as Sherpa guides brought her down."

 

KALPANA DASH

An Indian lawyer, Kalpana Dash, 52, died above the area known as the Balcony. She complained of breathlessness on the descent.

Ms Dash had scaled Mount Everest in May 2008 and become a role model in Odisha, a state in India's east. She was part of a five-member team alongside mountaineers from the United States, Canada and Nepal. She had achieved the feat after two failed attempts in 2004 and 2006.

Authorities of Odisha's State Museum in Bhubaneswar put up an exhibition of Dash's mountaineering outfits. She had donated the outfits she had worn during her 2004 expedition to Mt Everest to the museum. Hundreds of visitors had a close look at the outfits once news of her death was confirmed.

After she first climbed Mt Everest Ms Dash said: "It is due to God's mercy and the best wishes of my family that I was able to scale Everest and returned safely. I'm happy and am keen to attempt climbing it again."

In a career spanning a decade and a half, Ms Dash had trekked many mountains in India and abroad, including in Europe, America and Australia.

 

Kaplana Dash had conquered Mt Everest before.
Kaplana Dash had conquered Mt Everest before.

KEVIN HYNES

Kevin Hynes was the second man from Ireland to have died on Mt Everest this year.

A father of two, the 56-year-old from Galway was part of a group from the climbing company, 360 Expeditions, attempting to get to the summit.

In a statement 360 Expeditions said: "Kevin was one of the strongest and most experienced climbers on our team and had previously summited Everest South and Lhotse."

Before his death, he told his family he was having the most fun of his life.

"We had no inkling of the events that have now unfolded before posting the summit team news.

"We were texting him yesterday afternoon (although had no replies) asking him how he was and knowing that he would have been devastated not to have been part of the summit push," a family statement said.

He was part of a team of six and three sherpas.

He too became ill as he began his descent, although he didn't reach the summit, which others in the group set off for.

He was accompanied by an experienced guide and passed away in his tent.

 

Kevin Hynes.
Kevin Hynes.

 

Seasoned mountaineers say the Nepal government’s failure to limit the number of climbers on Mount Everest has resulted in dangerous overcrowding and a greater number of deaths.
Seasoned mountaineers say the Nepal government’s failure to limit the number of climbers on Mount Everest has resulted in dangerous overcrowding and a greater number of deaths.

 

DRUBA BISTA

A mountain guide from Nepal, Druba Bista was part of an expedition run by Himalayan Ski Treks. He was evacuated by helicopter to the base camp, from Camp 3, where he died from altitude sickness on May 24.

 

ROBIN FISHER

Robin Fisher, of Birmingham, UK, made it to Everest's summit on Saturday morning but collapsed and died only 150m down from the peak, his expedition company confirmed.

Guides tried to help Mr Fisher, 44, after he "suddenly fell down", Murari Sharma of Everest Parivar Expedition said.

Despite efforts to wake him and to give him oxygen and water, he didn't regain consciousness and guides confirmed he died just 45 minutes after reaching the top of the mountain.

A statement from his family paid tribute to an "aspirational adventurer" who "lived life to the full".

"We are deeply saddened by his loss as he still had so many more adventures and dreams to fulfil...Everyone who ever met him in any capacity will always remember the positive impact he had on their lives."

 

Robin Fisher died 45 minutes after reaching the summit.
Robin Fisher died 45 minutes after reaching the summit.

 

CHRISTOPHER KULISH

Christopher Kullish, 62, "passed away doing what he loved", his devastated family said.

A lawyer from Colorado, he scaled Everest in near ideal weather after the crowds had eased.

"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, Mark Kulish of Denver, said this week.

"We are heartbroken at this news."

 

andrew.koubaridis@news.com.au


Mundubbera community to ask R U OK?

Mundubbera community to ask R U OK?

The R U OK? team will make a stop next week.

Monto girl turns out for Biloela at netball championships

Monto girl turns out for Biloela at netball championships

Tarah Staines reputation as talented all-round sportswoman grows.

Low on numbers, Gayndah's seniors still know how to party

Low on numbers, Gayndah's seniors still know how to party

Gayndah Senior Citizens host annual Christmas in July event.