Everest: Two Climbers Die on Descent

Two members of the Seven Summit Treks team died during their descent from Everest’s summit yesterday. The circumstances, while not completely clear, bring back sad memories of 2019.

The weather was great, and no accident occurred. Both reportedly died from exhaustion. According to SST leader Chhang Dawa Sherpa, Swiss climber Abdul Waraich began experiencing issues as he started to descend. He passed away near the South Summit. “We sent two additional Sherpas with oxygen and food,” Dawa Sherpa wrote. Unfortunately, the Sherpas couldn’t save him.”

American climber Puwei Liu, suffering from snow blindness and exhaustion, turned around at the Hillary Step, very close to the summit. “It consumed more hours, but with the help of extra oxygen and additional Sherpa support, he safely reached the South Col late Wednesday evening before he suddenly passed away,” Chhang Dawa said.

Waraich only needed Everest to complete the Seven Summits (the highest peak on each continent), while Liu climbed Makalu in 2017, according to the Everest News blog, using information from The Himalayan Database.

Today, winds have increased and prevented further climbers from summiting, according to Alan Arnette. Forecasts show a week-long stormy spell, which will test teams’ patience, as well as their COVID safety protocols. The next window should open on May 20.

Because of the bad weather, the bodies of the two deceased climbers remain where they died. But Seven Summit Treks has said that it will try to retrieve them when conditions improve.

No-O2 climbers waiting

Among those now ready are the no-O2 climbers. Hungarian Csaba Varga and American Colin O’Brady have completed their acclimatization rounds by sleeping in Camp 3 and reaching the South Col at 8,000m. Kilian Jornet and David Goettler also completed two rotations up the normal route and are ready to set off on their planned route — supposedly Everest’s West Ridge and perhaps an attempt at the Everest-Lhotse traverse.

In other news, The New York Times quoted Mingma Sherpa of SST as saying they will comply with Nepal Mountain Association’s petition to bring back all the oxygen canisters they can, to refill and use in Nepal’s hospitals.

Mingma Sherpa said that they would bring 500 bottles back under one condition: “The cylinders should be used for poor and helpless people rather than V.I.P.s,” he said.