How Many Dead on Mt. Everest (graphic)

I feel like I should explain that this article did not start out as a running tabulator of Everest Deaths but it's seems to have ended up as one. Fortunately for all of us there is a dedicated Wiki page that has a comprehensive list with a running total and as of today it's showing 308 people have died to date. (May 27 2019 6:23 MST)

Read below for the interesting and macabre Everest culture of dealing with dead bodies on the tallest mountain.

[Update 2019: Another tragic season beginning with overcrowding on Everest causing 11 additional deaths for a total of 308. Article here]

[Update 2014: According to Everest News, as of April 18, 2014 an avalanche has left 16 Sherpa guides. What could be one of the deadliest events in the mountains history has increased the number of Everest fatalities dramatically.]

[Update April 2015: An earthquake in Nepal on April 25, 2015 has so far has killed more than 4,000 5,500 6,000 7,000 8,000 people. The epicentre of the quake, measuring 7.8, was 220 miles from Mt. Everest and triggered avalanches that have killed 18 people and injured 60 more jumping the number of deaths on Everest significantly. For the avalanche story and images click here. There is a photo story about the Nepalese quake devastation as well and an opportunity to donate to the relief efforts.

[Update May 2015: Another earthquake measuring 7.3 as well as very strong after shocks have hit Nepal. So far another 30 dead and over a 1,000 injured. 

[Update May 27, 2016 Everest has claimed five more lives. At least one person per year has died since 1900. One of the five, Maria Strydom, said she was climbing Everest to prove vegans are not weak. Did anyone think that? Maybe not weak, but probably not cut out for the rigors of Everest. More details here.]

All lives are valuable and one person's lost life should not matter more than another's just because they are famed in some way. For a comprehensive list of all who have died on Everest so far, in chronological order click here.]

If you're one of the couple of hundred people who will attempt to climb Mount Everest this year, there is something you will be sure to see along the way - dead bodies.

Most of the bodies are located in the "Death Zone," the area above the final base camp at 26,000 feet.

George Leigh Mallory, found 75 years after his disappearance on the mountain.

On the days surrounding May 21, 2012 this danger zone claimed four more bodies, three of them on the same day. Why so many? Would you believe there is an over crowding issue on the planet's highest point?

Climbers jumped on the opportunity to reach the summit when a window of good weather opened up. Some taking off for the top as late as mid afternoon. I'm not a mountain climber but I have been on a tiny mountain at 2:30 in the afternoon, above the tree line, and it's not cozy. Not even in the middle of summer.

What happens when someone dies on Everest? Mostly they are left there because retrieving them is impossible. There are several reasons why it might be impossible. The body has fallen into a crevasse and cannot be retrieved. The body is in a place where retrieving it would put others at risk or the family of the deceased climber simply cannot afford to pay someone to retrieve the body and bring it down the mountain.

Tsewang Paljor, now tragically known as the landmark "Green Boots"
Check out this article that features more information about some of the people
who have lost their lives on Everest

Bodies on Everest are preserved in almost the exact condition they were in when they died because of the temperatures and lack of moisture.

Green Boots, picture above, is the name given to the corpse of Indian climber Tsewang Paljor who died May 11, 1996, aged 28, on the Northeast ridge route of Mount Everest. On the way down the mountain, he fell victim to exposure in the storm of May 10th 1996, one among the eight who died that day. Since his corpse lies on the popular northern route, his body is encountered frequently and came to be known as Green Boots. Many feel this is disrespectful.

It costs $25,000 to $60,000 to climb Everest. So you can imagine it would cost the same or more to retrieve a body left behind.

Many are left where they lie. Many are on popular routes and part of climbing Mount Everest is coming to terms with the bodies you will be passing on your way up and down the mountain.

Many climbers fall into trouble but cannot be helped because it would endanger the life of another climber or a team. Basically, because of the cost and conditions on the mountain, if you run into trouble, you're on your own.

You know what else is left on the mountain? An estimated 120 tons of trash. Seriously? Why do you climb the mountain? You go to the trouble of spending the money and energy for training, you get to the mountain and you can't take your garbage back down? Unbelievable.

Nepal now requires climbers to remove their garbage or lose their deposit which has decreased recent additions to the pile. Why wasn't that just a common sense kind of thing in the first place?

CBC News has an interesting graphic on climber deaths by country and manner here. According to their information, as of April 22, 2014 an estimated 230 (now over 250 as of April 2015) climbers have died.

This is one of those times where you know a specific group of people are responsible and nobody else. Mountain climbers. Defeating the mountain and crapping on it's face.

To be fair there is a movement under way with groups of volunteer climbers working to remove the garbage from years of accumulation.

Apa was born in 1961

Apa, born in the foothills of Everest and working the mountain since age 12, has climbed Everest a record 21 times. He is leading a team of climbers in a mission to clean up the mountain.

Also Eco Everest Expedition arranges cleanup climbs for the purpose of collecting garbage. Eco Everest Expedition also funds a "Cash for Trash" venture that pays climbers for the garbage they collect and bring down the mountain.

Since the "Cash for Trash" program started in 2008, the Eco Everest Expedition has been able to bring down more than 13,500 kilograms of garbage from the high mountains. They pay roughly a Euro per kg.

There aren't too many places left in the world where travel to that destination could be considered an expedition. Something like that should be valued.

So should the people whose lives are lost and who are left behind to sleep forever on a mountain face.


Tonya said...

I have always found this thing fascinating. The idea that corpses are just left there is so intriguing to me. I love looking at these pictures.

Frimmy said...

I have to say I hadn't given it much thought until last week when a Canadian woman died and news articles keep popping up about retrieval efforts.

Angie said...

I've been fascinated with this topic since I read "Into Thin Air". Wouldn't you think all those dead bodies on the way up would be somewhat of a deterrent for climbers?

Frimmy said...

Dead bodies as landmarks is pretty macabre. "proceed north untill you get to green boots and take a right jig till you pass skeleton hands. Keep going up until you pass hanging from a purple rope guy and you're on your way"

Frimmy said...

I also think its interesting that most of the pics of bodies I found had virtually no equipment missing. Is there an unwritten rule not to scavenge?

Angie said...

Honor among climbers...I like it.

Tonya said...

Probably somewhat of an honor thing, but also they probably go up with everything they need and can't carry any more down than that.

DaveG said...

I have seen GreenBoots; manytimes, I was fascinated that he was a police captain in India, that he was 28 years old but his family didnt have the money to bring him home. There are so many dead up there, you literally are walking thro an above ground cemetery, to climb a mountain. Idea!! Why not charge each climber $100.00 each to help bring down a body or two,
These climbers are trashing a treasure of the earth; the highest mountain in the world and they have no respect for the next climber(s), look at their equipment
25,000.00 in dress to reach the pinnacle of desire. Cmon Napal; git with the program; charge and then three times a year go an bring back the dead; failed attempts or just plain Bad Luck. Just like MIA or KIA, bring the Boyz and Girls Home, their loved ones are waiting........DaveG Oakville, WA

Anonymous said...

GreenBoots has been returned to his birth city in India, his town came to bid him farewell as did his
relatives. He died in 1996 (bad year for death on the high hill)he was brought down 2011, thanks to the many that contributed to make it happen. GreenBoots has been laid to rest in a warmer place, instead of marking a trail to the summit of Mt. Everest...RIP Tsewang
Paljor, you should be celebrating your 43 birthday, RIP my friend DG

Frimmy said...

Do you happen to have a link supporting this claim? Because I looked everywhere and found nothing to prove Green Boots has been returned home. If he has been returned home I would update my post reflecting that. In fact the only reference to Green Boots return home was a brief mention that Ian Woodall, a climber with a dubious reputation at best, had planned to return in 2011 to retrieve him but did not end up doing so.

AVS said...

Now for your kind information, some of the major corpses that made landmarks on Mount Everest have been removed!

AVS said...

But for your kind information, the corpses those made landmarks on Mount Everest, some to a humanitarian extent have been removed!

AVS said...

Its just a disappearance and just an assumption of humanitarian aspect that Green Boots has been RIP at last underneath the earth! Just believe rather than rotting him exposed ��

Unknown said...

Seems many of the corpses including that of Green Boots have disappeared - probably removed by a Chinese team as the Norther Face falls within the control of Tibet Autonomous Region of PRC.

HeatherB.E.6674 said...

It's not that simple. Most of the bodies are in the death zone above the last camp before the summit. It would be extremely dangerous if not impossible to bring most of them down. In some cases seasoned Sherman have died trying, never mind regular climbers. When people climb Everest they understand the risks and that if they should perish on the mountain their body will likely remain there.

Daffodil said...

They should start a go fund me page To retrieve the dead climbers

Unknown said...

It must be a unique sight l

Unknown said...

So I read the book "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer one of the climbers from the 1996 disaster. The book was assigned as a reading book for school and we started watching documentaries and I got really intrested into finding how Andy Harris died on the expedition. From what I gathered this is what I got. Doug Hansen and Rob Hall were at the top of Mt Everest and were ascending down. Doug got really sick and had no oxygen left. So Rob stayed there and tried to get in contact with one of the other climbers or guides. When he did he was told that there were oxygen tanks on the South Col and he had to go there. But Andy Harris another guide was told that there were not any there which he told Rob. This caused Rob to stay put with Doug. Doug eventually died and Andy realised there were oxygen tanks so he decided he should go up there and give them the oxygen tanks. That's why when people found Rob Hall's and Doug Hansen's body they also found Andy's axe and boots. ANdy was "missing" so I think this is what might have happened. Also Rob reported that Andy had come up with the oxygen. So this is my theory if anyone else agrees just tell me what you think. :)


Follow by Email

Powered by Blogger.