Climber Who Refused to Turn Around Dies on Kangchenjunga

Indian climber Narayan Iyer (52) died at approximately 8,200m during yesterday’s massive summit push on Kangchenjunga. He was determined to reach the top, despite feeling ill shortly after leaving Camp 4.

Who is in charge?

“The Sherpa guides told him to turn around repeatedly but he refused to obey and insisted on going up,” said Nivesh Karki, Director of Pioneer Adventures (Iyer’s outfitter).

Soon, Iyer could go no further. “Mingma Dorchi decided to leave two guides with him and proceeded with the rest of the group,” Karki explained. Iyer apparently died from something related to exhaustion. No fall or accident occurred.

Traditionally, the guide’s word is law in the mountains. Most climbing companies and outfitters ask their clients to sign a disclaimer before an expedition. This often includes their acceptance of the expedition leader’s decisions. But then, high on an 8,000m peak, climbers and guides can see things very differently. Mountaineering history is full of stories of guides and clients arguing about decisions that can be the difference between life and death.

Details from the summit push are still rather sketchy. In fact, Iyer’s name was preliminarily listed as a summiter, instead of a casualty. The summit was announced very late in the day (at 4:50 pm Nepal time) by Pioneer Adventure’s Sanu Sherpa. Sanu Sherpa was leading the rope-fixing team and therefore supposedly at the head of the climbing group. However, Shehroze Kashif’s home team announced that the young Pakistani climber had reached the top nearly two hours before, and the waypoints registered on his tracker are not clear.

Summit pictures and reports should trickle in once the climbers return to Base Camp today.

More teams to come

Not everyone is descending. Several climbers are on their way to the summit, including Mingma G’s Imagine Nepal team, which is currently on its way to Camp 4. Other outfitting companies, such as 8K Expeditions, plan to lead climbs up the mountain in the next three weeks.

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!


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Arjun
Arjun
19 days ago

Historically, it is always the dead who gets the blame. I don’t know if what the company is saying happened or not, and nobody ever truly will for the obvious mortal reasons, but do remember – there’s a reason for such a one sided statement, especially with a potential liability in face of the law, and the marketing downside towards future clients. The dead will remain silent, while the living could write history in their favor.

Stephen Court
Stephen Court
19 days ago
Reply to  Arjun

Inherent nonsense. Angela is reporting – not putting blame on anybody, indeed she is quoting. Angela also admits details are sketchy. Your comment is judgemental, biased and totally ahead of the facts available. Emotive statements describing “..it is always the dead who gets the blame” is meaningless and insulting to the guides, medics, rescuers and those who risk their lives to try and save others.

Arjun
Arjun
19 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Court

Well Stephen, I didn’t mention Angela even once in my comment, rather it was you who did it, twice, interestingly. I also didn’t mention the “medics and rescuers”, but only you did yet again, Stephen. I only mentioned the company’s one-sided statement, the inability of the dead climber to respond, reminding the inherent advantages of such situations, and the reality of never truly knowing the full factual story. Your emotional, logical fallacy filled comment – shows both that you can’t comprehend a simple notion in general, while having a difficulty of composing an evidence based response. I recommend you to… Read more »

Stephen Court
Stephen Court
18 days ago
Reply to  Arjun

From ANGELA’S account, you deduced that it is the “dead who gets the blame” – hence my reference to Angela. By suggesting that the dead are always those that are blamed for their own deaths, you are accordingly insinuating that others should – that may therefore include guides (ie employed by the company), medics and rescuers – I merely gave examples. “Your emotional, logical fallacy filled” description of my comment is meaningless, “reminding the inherent advantages of such situations” is similarly unintelligible, your recommendations are peurile and I stand by my statement.

don't be evil
don't be evil
19 days ago
Reply to  Arjun

Have you heard of summit fever? Few years ago, there a documentary series which followed Russel Brice’s expedition for few seasons on Everest. There was an episode in which one of the client was struggling and Russel exhorted him to return back to a lower camp many times but the climber would not listen.
Struggling climber can put both the guides and other climbers at risk so there is not incentive for the guide to encourage him to climb up further. In this case, it does not appear that guide misjudged the mountain conditions.

Arjun
Arjun
19 days ago
Reply to  don't be evil

Thank you sir, and yes, of course I’m familiar with the so called Summit Fever psychological phenomenon. Definitely a possibility for this case, as long as you remember it is only one among others, and is currently based on an opinionated assumption. Here’s another possibility for you, can anyone here, in this respected comment section, say evidently that this climber did not develop any kind of preconditional stroke or pulmonary embolism that led to his sudden rapid demise? Well, I think we all know the answer to that, aren’t we?

Stephen Court
Stephen Court
18 days ago
Reply to  Arjun

don’t be evil makes a clear case. Arjun should wait for more details to come through, as Angela mentioned, before throwing around out of place big words to back up his ridiculous statement that “Historically, it is always the dead that gets the blame.”

Yeti
Yeti
18 days ago

I met Narayan in Samagaon last September, on our way to Manaslu. He was a very fine guy, I’m very sorry he perished on Kantsch… After the climb, he was quite tired since he had come down all the way from the summit to BC, something I found quite remarkable but also dangerous (given his “exhaustion”).
Anyway, R.i.p., Narayan!