KATHMANDU (AFP) - Rescuers have retrieved the body of an Indian climber who died on Mount Everest and airlifted it to Kathmandu on Sunday (May 28), along with those of two others who perished last year.
Ravi Kumar, 27, died this month after summitting the world's highest mountain and becoming separated from his guide soon afterwards.
His body was spotted last Monday about 200 metres from the main route which climbers follow to the summit. Rescuers said its recovery was a risky operation.
"A team of at least eight rescue workers retrieved his body and brought it down to Camp 2 on Saturday," Tashi Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, the company overseeing the operation, told AFP.
"The body has been airlifted to Kathmandu."
His brother Manoj Kumar was waiting to receive the body as the helicopter landed at a hospital in Kathmandu.
"It was his dream to take our country's flag to the top of Mount Everest," Kumar said. "We are deeply sad, but also proud of him."
The bodies of Goutam Ghosh and Paresh Nath, two other Indian climbers who died last year but whose remains could not be retrieved due to bad weather, were also brought to Kathmandu.
All three corpses were found near the summit above 8,000 metres (26,247 feet) - an altitude that marks the beginning of the "death zone" notorious for its difficult terrain and thin air as low oxygen levels heighten the risk of altitude sickness.
The retrieval of corpses from such a high altitude is a controversial issue within the climbing community.
Some rescue companies refuse to do so, saying it endangers too many other lives.
"We do not risk the lives of the living to recover the dead," Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, one of the largest rescue firms in the Himalayas, told AFP.
"When it comes to recovering the dead there is an acceptable level of risk above which we do not go."
Six people have perished on Everest this season, including feted Swiss climber Ueli Steck who died during an acclimatisation climb in late April.
The bodies of four more climbers were found on Tuesday, though their identities remain unknown and authorities suspect they could be fatalities from a previous year.
At least 382 climbers have successfully reached the summit from the south side in Nepal so far this season, with another 120 doing so from the Tibet side.
Some are still waiting to make their final push to the summit before the monsoon arrives in early June, marking the end of the short spring climbing season.