When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Altitude Sickness

Francys Asteniev was an American climber who died with her husband Sergei on Everest in 1998. For years her body was exposed, but other climbers covered her with this flag. It is not practical to recover bodies from Everest.

Francys Arsentiev was an American climber who died with her husband Sergei on Everest in 1998. For nine years her body was exposed, but other climbers moved her away from the usual ascent route, and covered her with this flag. It is not practixcal to recover bodies from Everest.

Climbing is one of those things. It can kill you, everybody who does it knows it can kill you, and everyone that gets killed was expecting it to kill the other guy.

It’s kind of like being a member of a street gang, but more socially acceptable in civilized and educated circles.

Climbing has a lot of ways to kill you, especially on 8,000 meter peaks (and Everest is almost 9,000). Pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, exposure, hypothermia, falls, snow blindness… it’s still amazing anyone pulls this off (and yet hundreds have this year). But not everybody comes home.

Two Indian climbers have gone missing on Mount Everest, an expedition organizer said Sunday, after two deaths from apparent altitude sickness in recent days highlighted the risks on the world’s highest mountain.

Paresh Nath and Goutam Ghosh have been missing since Saturday, said Wangchu Sherpa of the Trekking Camp Nepal agency in Kathmandu. They were last seen near the Everest summit.

Two of their companions who fell sick were being helped down the mountain, Sherpa said. About 30 climbers have developed frostbite or become sick near the summit in recent days.

Most of the sick climbers suffered frostbite while attempting to reach the summit or on their descent, Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha said. Favorable weather has allowed nearly 400 climbers to reach the summit from Nepal since May 11, but the altitude, weather and harsh terrain can cause problems at any time.

Several Sherpa guides carried one sick climber from the highest camp, at nearly 26,240 feet, to Camp 2, at 21,000 feet, where attempts were being made to pick her up with a helicopter, said Pemba Sherpa of the Seven Summit Treks agency in Kathmandu. Seema Goshwami of India had frostbite to her hands and feet at the South Col camp and was unable to move.

“It took a big and risky effort, but we were able to save her,” Pemba Sherpa said, adding that an Iranian climber identified only as S. Hadi had been brought to Kathmandu and was recovering in a hospital.

A Norwegian woman, 45-year-old Siv Harstad, suffered snow blindness and was helped down from the summit on Saturday, the Norwegian news agency NTB said.

The two climbers who died were on the same expedition team. It was undecided when and if their bodies will be brought down from the high altitude and it will depend on the team and family members, Pasang Phurba of the Seven Summits agency said. Carrying bodies down Everest takes at least eight Sherpa guides, since they become frozen and heavier than normal.

More details were not available because of communication difficulties on the 29,035-foot mountain.

The two deaths were the first confirmed this year on Everest, during a busy climbing season that follows two years in which the peak was virtually empty due to two fatal avalanches.

via 2 climbers dead, 2 missing on Mount Everest – Hartford Courant.

Being missing on Everest just about never ends well. They’re not camping up there, above the 8,000-meter line; they’re dying, and they gamble that they can summit and return before death overtakes them.

That report is a few days old. One of the missing Indians turned up today, not alive but, as everyone who’s ever used an ice axe and crampons could have told you, dead. The toll is now six dead and zero missing.

One of the dead climbers had been on a quixotic adventure to proved that “vegans can do anything!” Sure they can, and women can be infantrymen and you can be any one of 82 “genders” you want, and Black Lives Matter (even if they take up crime?) and no one will ever, ever intrude on your Safe Space.

Turns out, that vegetarians freeze-dry as well as meat-eaters, just like their foods. But Unique and Special [Vegan] Snowflakeâ„¢’s mom is unhappy about that, and looking for someone to blame.

Maria Strydom, had died of altitude sickness in the arms of her husband, Robert Gropel, Saturday as the couple attempted to climb the world’s tallest peak to prove that vegans can do anything. She was one of four climbers who died on Everest in a grim span of four days.

[Mama] Strydom still wants answers.
She believes her daughter, known by friends and family as Marisa, was in the “death zone” for too long.
“No one is supposed to stay in the death zone longer than 16 to 20 hours. If you stay there longer you will be dead,” Strydom told CNN.

“I am very, very concerned. I’m concerned about a lot of things,” she added. “In their itinerary it was suggested they would sleep over at camp 3 for their acclimatization. They didn’t.”

Strydom also is upset that she had to learn of her daughter’s death on the Internet

And she’s upset that the Sherpas don’t like risking their lives to bring the corpses of dead climbers down. In the end, the Sherpas did recover her daughter’s body, brought it down to Camp 2, and from their it was flown to Katmandu, and presumably, home. So at least she will not join Francys and Sergei Arsentiev, George Mallory, and the other 200 or so bodies on the slopes of the world’s highest mountain.

5 thoughts on “When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Altitude Sickness

  1. LSWCHP

    If you stay too long in the Dead Zone, you’ll end up dead. Well Duh. Fucking dumbasses. As you say, wealthy fools who throw their lives away on trivia because they think the bullet will always hit the other guy. I have no sympathy for them…it’s just natural thinning of the herd.

    You should see the interview with her even more idiot husband explaining how he’s coping. Sheesh….

  2. bobby b

    ” Carrying bodies down Everest takes at least eight Sherpa guides, since they become frozen and heavier than normal.”

    Freezing a body makes it heavier?

    (I know: dumb little point, but it bothered me.)

    1. Hognose Post author

      They probably collect a good bit of frozen water? On the other hand, the air pressure is so low I wonder if they’d freeze dry.

  3. robroysimmons

    Back in the late 90s on the Art Bell program he had an author on to hawk his book of his cocked up trip up Everest, something about surprise bad weather hit several parties, many deaths.

    But what got my attention is that he basically said at that time the route up and back was a graveyard and the bodies were never recovered, at best just pushed out of the way, and that the spirit gods of the Sherpas demanded that they take an axe to the bodies to let the spirits out of the husk. First I heard that they actually bring the dead back.

    1. Hognose Post author

      They usually don’t. The author was probably Jon Krakauer. His book Into Thin Air is beautifully written, but it’s factual accuracy has been challenged, particularly Krakauer’s damnation of climber and guide Anatoly Boukreev. Anatoly has passed on, but wrote a book defending himself from Krakauer’s assault on his character. He’s not the wordsmith Jon is, but he was ten times the climber, and as you might expect he perished on a later climb. Boukeeev’s book is The Climb and the two should be read in tandem, or not at all, in my opinion.

      I think trying to make Everest “safe” for tourist climbers is never going to succeed, for the same reason that people die BASE jumping or deep Heliox wreck diving — it’s an environment inherently hostile to human life. Still, some risky activities have been made much safer (including ordinary sky diving, flying fighter jets, or Formula 1 racing) so it can be safeer. It just can never be absolutely safe and if that’s your pursuit, like all the politicians with a plan for zero drugs or zero crime or zero poverty, you’re lying to somebody, probably yourself.

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