An Indian climber died of altitude sickness on Mount Everest on Sunday night while descending from the peak of the world’s tallest mountain.
Subhash Paul and three other teammates, Sunita Hazra, Paresh Chandra Nath and Gautam Ghosh, all from West Bengal, and four Sherpa guides accompanying them went missing on the mountain on Saturday very close to the 8,848-metre tall summit.
“Both Paul and Hazra and the four Sherpas came in contact with us on Sunday. While we were able to bring down Hazra safely, Paul died due to altitude sickness and weakness,” Wangchu Sherpa of Trekking Camp Nepal, the Kathmandu-based expedition organiser, told HT.
There is, however, no trace yet of Nath and Ghosh, who went missing at 8,600 metres around noon on Saturday, and organisers fear that both may have died on the ‘death zone’
“Both climbers had adequate oxygen cylinders when they made the final push for the summit. But we have no idea whether there is any left by now. They will be termed as missing till we get any concrete information,” Sherpa said.
He said efforts are underway to trace them but the organisers have not been able to send a team to locate the missing climbers because of very high altitude and inclement weather.
There is also no certainty when and if the body of Paul, which is lying at an altitude of 7,500 metres, between Camp IV and Camp III, will be able to be brought down.
“It can’t be airlifted from that height and we will have to try and bring the body to Camp II at 6,400 metres for a chopper to carry out an operation,” Sherpa added.
Earlier, two climbers, Eric Arnold from Netherlands and Maria Strydom from Australia, succumbed to high altitude sickness while on their way back from the summit.
Another Indian climber, Rajib Bhattacharya from West Bengal, also died due to similar complications last week while descending from the peak of Mt Dhaulagiri (8,167 metre), the seventh highest mountain in the world.
Beginning May 11, nearly 400 climbers and Sherpa guides have reached the summit of Everest this season. Around three dozen climbers have been affected by frostbite and snow blindness.
Mt Everest has seen a rush of climbers in the past few weeks after Nepal government lifted a ban imposed after a devastating earthquake in 2015 killed at least 18 people at the base camp, situated at 17,800 feet altitude, and forced hundreds of climbers to abandon their expeditions.