Deaths of British, Irish climbers add to Everest toll

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Mountaineers make their way to the summit of Mount Everest on May 17, 2018. The deaths of an Irish and a British climber on Mount Everest have taken the toll from a deadly week on the world’s highest peak to 10. PHOTO: AFP

KATHMANDU (AFP) - The deaths of an Irish and a British climber on Mount Everest took the toll from a deadly week on the world's highest peak to 10, expedition organisers said on Saturday (May 25).

British climber Robin Fisher, 44, reached the summit on Saturday morning but collapsed when he had got just 150 metres back down the slope.

"Our guides tried to help but he died soon after," Mr Murari Sharma of Everest Parivar Expedition told AFP.

On the northern Tibet side of the mountain, a 56-year-old Irish man died on Friday morning, his expedition organisers confirmed in a statement on their Facebook page.

The man decided to return without reaching the summit, but died in his tent at the North Col pass at 7,000 metres.

Four climbers from India and one each from the United States, Austria and Nepal have already died on Everest in the past week.

Another Irish mountaineer is missing presumed dead after he slipped and fell close to the summit.

Nepal issued a record 381 permits for mainly foreign climbers, costing US$11,000 (S$15,129.40) each, for the spring climbing season.

Each climber with a permit is assisted by at least one sherpa, adding to the summit logjam.

With the short window of suitable weather due to close soon, bottlenecks of scores of climbers wanting to achieve the ultimate mountaineering accolade have built up each day.

A traffic jam of climbers in the Everest "death zone" has been blamed for at least four of the deaths, heightening concerns that the drive for profits is trumping safety.

An estimated 600 people had reached the summit via the Nepal side by Friday, a government official said, based on information from expedition organisers.

At least 140 others have been granted permits to scale Everest from the northern flank in Tibet, according to operators. This could take the total past last year's record of 807 people reaching the summit.

Many Himalayan mountains - including Everest - are at peak climbing season, with the good weather between late April and the end of May.

Eight other climbers have died on other 8,000-metre-plus Himalayan peaks this season, while two are missing.

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