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Monday, April 30, 2012

How Many Dead on Mt. Everest (graphic)

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.

[Update: According to Everest News, as of April 18, 2014 an avalanche has left 13 Sherpa guides dead and three still missing. What could be one of the deadliest events in the mountains history has increased the number of Everest fatalities dramatically.]

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 goddam 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 and updated stats here. According to their information, as of September 13, 2012 an estimated 233 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.

11 comments:

  1. 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.

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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?

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  4. 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"

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  5. 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?

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  6. Honor among climbers...I like it.

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  7. 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.

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  8. 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

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  9. 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

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  10. 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.

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