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Tragedy on Everest: an American and a Swiss died of exhaustion and snow blindness

Bad weather prevents the mountaineers’ bodies from being recovered for repatriation

everest tragedy
Everest base camp. UNIVERSITY OF MAINE

Two mountaineers, an American and a Swiss, died on Everest, the first victims of this year’s season, the expedition organizers in Nepal announced on Thursday.

“Two mountaineers died Wednesday,” Mingma Sherpa of seven Summit Treks agency told AFP.

The Swiss mountaineer “suffered exhaustion” after reaching the summit (8,848.86 m), said Chhang Dawa Sherpa, from the same organization.

“We sent two additional sherpas with oxygen and food (but) unfortunately they couldn’t save him,” the latter said on Instagram.

The American mountaineer made it to Hilary Pass but was the victim of snow blindness and exhaustion and needed help to descend, organizers said. He arrived at Camp 4 where he died soon after.

Bad weather prevents the mountaineers’ bodies from recovering for the time being to repatriate them, Thaneshwor Guragain of Seven Summit Treks added.

Panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges in Nepal
Panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges in Nepal. EFE / Balazs Mohai / Archive

Over the past few seasons, Everest recorded an increasing number of mountaineers trying to reach the summit, causing an overcrowding that would be the culprit of several deaths.

Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism issued new rules to limit the number of climbers trying to reach the “roof of the world.”

The pandemic ended last season, but this year Nepal softened quarantine rules in order to attract more mountaineers, despite the risks of contracting covid-19 during its high-altitude expedition, without means to cure them.

Moreover, China announced that it’ll install a “demarcation line” of the border at the top of Everest to avoid any risk of covid-19 contamination by mountaineers from Nepal, according to the Chinese press.

In this aerial image published by Xinhua News Agency, Mount Qomolangma base camp, also called Everest, on May 25, 2020. (Purbu Zhaxi/Xinhua via AP)

China, the first country affected by the pandemic in December 2019, fears a return of infections from abroad.

Although borders have been practically closed since March 2020, China intends to extend its surveillance to the snow-capped peak of the world, which it shares with Nepal, at 8,848 meters above sea level.

High mountain guides will establish a demarcation line at the top before allowing climbing on the Chinese side (north), Xinhua news agency reported.

With AFP information

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