More Deaths and Rescues in a Fatal Everest Season

Throughout the weekend, winds have picked up on Everest, making progress tougher for the latest would-be summiters. More importantly, conditions impeded the rescue of a sick climber, with tragic consequences. Jason Bernard Kennison of Australia fell sick shortly after starting his descent from the summit on Friday. He died at the Balcony at 8,300m.

“Kennison was with my top Sherpa, Naga Dorjee, and Pemba Tshering as second Sherpa,” Dawa Steven Sherpa of Asian Trekking told ExplorersWeb. “He was doing well on the ascent, and the whole team summited together at 9 am on the 19th.

“After about 15 minutes on the windy summit, they started to descend, and Jason was uncoordinated and slow.”

What follows is Dawa Steven’s account:

Naga recognized the early symptoms of HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema), so he administered dexamethasone and turned up the 02 to 5L per minute. It didn’t help, and by the time they had reached the South Summit, the Sherpas had to [carry/drag] him down. Seven hours later, they finally got to the Balcony (8,300m), by which point Jason was completely unresponsive and the Sherpas had run out of oxygen for at least three hours. They hadn’t been able to move him for at least an hour, the winds were horrendous and I was risking the Sherpas’ lives at this point. I radioed the Sherpas and made the call to tell them to leave Jason at 16:22 and descend down to C4. Two of the other summit Sherpas of the day returned to C4 and tried to return to the Balcony but it was too windy. I told all the Sherpas to stay in Camp 4 until there was a change in the weather. The whole team stayed at Camp 4 overnight but the wind was only stronger, so at 11 am on the 20th, I told the whole team to come down to Camp 2.


Kennison, an engineer by profession, was climbing Everest after long years of recovering from a serious car accident in 2006. He broke multiple bones and suffered a spinal cord injury in the crash. He wanted to climb Everest as the culmination of the process that started by learning to walk again. Dawa Steven Sherpa said, “Jason was the nicest guy, always positive and helpful in Base Camp.”

Dawa Steven added that there was another death today at Camp 2.

“A Sherpa collapsed at the helipad in Camp 2 from a suspected heart attack,” he said. “A doctor in our team ran down from our camp to help, but another foreign climber had already been doing CPR for 20 minutes. There was nothing that could be done for him.”

Almost daily deaths

People are dying on Everest almost daily this season. Except for the three Nepali climbers who perished after a serac collapse in the Khumbu Icefall, none died in a climbing accident, but rather from health issues.

In 2019, 11 people died on Everest, some because of a traffic jam near the summit. This year, there have been reports of long lines in the Khumbu Icefall, but not on the upper sections. The long summit window has permitted teams to coordinate and distribute their summits over several days. Check the video below of a traffic jam at the Icefall, posted by K2Climber:

More rescues coming to light

The problem this year may be even more serious because individual climbers — like Gelje Sherpa and Dan Mazur, below — are starting to share news of other, unpublicized rescues.

Gelje Sherpa, guiding a team of Chinese climbers for Seven Summit Treks, says he aborted his team’s summit push when he saw a sick climber abandoned and alone on the Balcony.

“The man needed rescuing and no one else was helping,” Gelje said. “I made the decision to cancel our clients’ summit push so that I could bring him down to safety before he died up there alone. I carried him myself all the way down to Camp 4 where a rescue team [took over].”

Thanks to this prompt care, the sick climber was successfully evacuated to the hospital, alive. Gelje also shared a video:

Gelje Sherpa is one of Nepal’s top climbers. He was the youngest member of the Winter K2 summit team. He also attempted a new route on Cho Oyu’s South Side and has participated in countless rescues.

Meanwhile, Dan Mazur, the American leader of the SummitClimb team, wrote that yesterday they helped a porter who had fallen into a crevasse above Camp 1.

“I was first on the scene, and the porter was out of sight but could whistle,” Mazur said. “David, Dr. Abhyu, James, Ang Dorji, and I helped out.”

Climbers crossing a huge crevasse at Everest's Western Cwn, on snowy, flat terrain, the rocky face in background.

Climbers cross a huge crevasse at Everest’s Western Cwm. Photo: Dan Mazur


Little hope for missing climbers

In addition, The Himalayan Times confirms that Shrinivas Sainis Dattatraya, the Indian-Singaporean climber who was reported missing on Thursday, fell from 8,500m, down the Tibetan side of Everest. Seven Summit Treks told the paper that efforts to search for him are continuing.

There is likewise no news about Hawari Bin Hashim, the deaf Malaysian climber outfitted by Pioneer. Bin Hashim disappeared from Camp 4 after summiting on Friday. His support Sherpa left him in Camp 4 in order to go up to help other teammates rescue still another stricken climber. That climber later died.

Close shot of the climber smiling inside a tent.

Malaysian Hawari Bin Hashim. Photo: The Himalayan Times


Sherpas searched all the camps on Everest for Dattatraya, without results. Today, a desperate Nga Tenjin, founder of Pioneer Adventure, has asked for help from all the climbers currently on Everest, to try and locate the missing Bin Hashim.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.