Hundreds of people try to climb Everest every year. 4,000 daredevils have successfully made it, but hundreds of climbers have never reached their ultimate destination—the top. To reach it, climbers have to climb in incredibly difficult weather conditions, endure temperature changes and low atmospheric pressure, and negotiate the treacherous mountain, passing through the ominously named “death zone”.
Mount Everest is the highest point on the planet, 8 848 meters above sea level. Everest is located in the Himalayas, on the border between China and Nepal.
At the top of Mount Everest in China, there are strong winds, sometimes reaching speeds of up to 200 km/h, and air temperatures dropping to -60 °C. There is a “death zone” at the top of the mountain.
Here, oxygen levels are insufficient for human life. In the “death zone”, the human body cannot acclimate and uses oxygen faster than it can be refilled.
Without timely action and replenishment of oxygen reserves, the functions of the human body can deteriorate, leading to unconsciousness and eventual death.
Everest has seen people of all nationalities perish, from seasoned climbers to novices. However, not everyone recognizes that those who meet a cruel fate are often left lying where they fall.
Everest itself has become a cemetery where bodies lie for years, some for decades. The reason for this is that it is too dangerous and difficult to try to remove the dead. Reaching the top of Everest is a physical challenge, and it would take too long to try to bring a corpse or a dead climber back down.
A rescue mission would be almost suicidal. Nevertheless, some experienced mountaineers have made efforts in recent years to bury climbers who have died in more accessible parts of the mountain.
Among other things, there is a part of the mountain known as the “Rainbow Valley” where dozens of dead climbers’ bodies are visible thanks to brightly colored climbing jackets. Those who intend to climb to the top should be aware that they may not return from the trip.
Climbing a mountain is not entirely up to the individual. Hurricane winds, icy oxygen valves, poor timing, avalanches, exhaustion, and similar factors can kill an experienced climber.
According to scientists, exhaustion, poor weather conditions, and avalanches are the most common causes of death for Everest climbers.
The first person to climb Everest was British mountaineer George Mallory. He was the first person to become a victim of Everest. In 1924, he and his group set off for the top of the mountain, but he became separated from his team at around 8,500 meters. 75 years passed before they discovered his body.
For many years, speculation surrounded whether he had indeed reached the top. It wasn’t until 1999 that they discovered his remains near the top of the mountain.
With a broken pelvis, George Mallory’s body lay as if he were heading for the top. Until his final moments, the British climber aimed to conquer the mountain of his dreams, but, unfortunately, he did not succeed.
The first person to climb Mount Everest was Edmund Hillary from New Zealand in 1953. Together with a mountain guide from Nepal, he reached the top. After them, daredevils from all over the world flocked to Everest, but they did not always triumph.
More than 200 people have died on Everest in the past 60 years. Climbers have not only lost their heads here because of injuries or fatigue, but often because of the reverence and indifference of those around them.
Jordan Romero, a 13-year-old American, is the youngest person to climb Everest. In May 2010, accompanied by his parents and three helpers, he reached the top of the world’s highest mountain, making him the youngest person in the world to climb Everest.
And Bahadur Sherchan, approaching his 77th birthday, is considered the oldest person to have climbed Mount Everest.
In 1996, Japanese climbers discovered three fellow Indians nearly frozen to death on their way up. The Japanese continued their journey upwards, and all the other Indians died shortly afterwards.
In 1998, Russian Sergei Arsentyev and his American wife Frances set off for Everest without oxygen tanks, but the mountain did not let them go. The couple got lost in a blizzard, and Sergei died while looking for his wife.
They didn’t discover his body until several years later. Francis passed several groups on her way down the mountain over two days, but they did not help her or feed her. The dying woman was rescued by another British couple, the Widholles, who abandoned their expedition and went in search of the climber.
Unfortunately, they were unable to help her, and the couple themselves nearly froze to death on the way back. A year later, the Widholles still achieved their goal and reached the top.
On the way up, they found Francis’s remains in the same place where they had left her the year before. They then saved money for another 8 years to return to Everest and bury Francis’ body.
The conquest of Mount Everest became a hotly debated topic in 2006. That year, the mountain witnessed a shocking event that garnered global attention and discussion. 42 people passed by David Sharpe, who was dying of oxygen deprivation.
Among them were journalists from the “Discovery” TV channel, who asked Sharp a few questions, gave him oxygen, and left him alone. The other person to leave Sharp to his fate was disabled climber Mark Inglis, who was in the middle of an unprecedented climb with a prosthetic leg.
He had no intention of abandoning his glorious climb for the dying man, so he continued. Inglis managed to reach the top and became a hero, but he did not help his dying colleague.
Perhaps the most “famous” body that never reached the top of Everest is the so-called “green shoes”. This nickname was given to the unidentified corpse of a climber who became the main feature of the North Ridge route on Everest.
The term “green” shoes originates from the footwear still worn by the deceased person’s body. All expeditions from the north encounter a body lying in a cave. David Sharp died in the same cave.
Mount Everest is a beautiful but very dangerous place, so reaching the top is an incredible success. However, the bodies that mark the path to the top are a cruel reminder of the price that can be paid for climbing the mountain.
Yet in the last decade, thanks to technology, climbing Everest has become much safer. Satellite phone connections allow climbers to communicate with the base camp, receive constant weather updates, and keep in touch.
The overall death rate on Everest over the past 56 years has been 9%, but since 2004, this has fallen to around 4.4%.