One dead, another missing on Everest

KATHMANDU • An American climber died yesterday on his way to the summit of Mount Everest, expedition organisers said, the latest death to mar the ongoing climbing season.

The 50-year-old died close to the Balcony, a small platform above the 8,000m mark considered the mountain's "death zone".

"An American climber has died around the Balcony area. We are trying to get more details," Murari Krishna Sharma of Everest Parivar Expedition, a private mountaineering company, told AFP.

The death zone is notorious for its difficult terrain and thin air, where low levels of oxygen heighten the risk of altitude sickness.

A search is also under way for an Indian climber who lost contact after reaching the summit of the world's tallest mountain last Saturday. His Nepali guide was found unconscious at Camp 4, just below 8,000m, with severe frostbite. "He has been out of reach since yesterday. We have sent a search and rescue team," said Thupden Sherpa of Arun Treks and Expeditions, another private climbing outfit.

It is the third death so far this climbing season.

Legendary Swiss climber Ueli Steck died late April while on an acclimatisation climb, and 85-year- old Min Bahadur Sherchan perished attempting to reclaim his title as the world's oldest person to summit Everest.

The 50-year-old died close to the Balcony, a small platform above the 8,000m mark considered the mountain's "death zone".

Last year five people lost their lives on the world's highest peak. Another 443 successfully summitted from the Nepal side, and a further 197 made it to the top from the north side in Tibet.

Despite the risks and recent disasters, Everest's allure remains undimmed, with Nepal issuing 375 permits for this year's spring climbing season.

In 2014, the season was called off after an avalanche killed 16 Nepali guides.

A devastating earthquake triggered another avalanche at the base camp in 2015, leaving 18 dead.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2017, with the headline 'One dead, another missing on Everest'. Print Edition | Subscribe