Kathmandu: A helicopter today retrieved the body of a Dutch climber who died last week on Mount Everest, while attempts were being made to retrieve the bodies of two other climbers and to locate two more who went missing on the world’s tallest mountain.
Eric Arnold had reached the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit on Friday, but then died on his descent of apparent altitude sickness near South Col, which sits at 8,000 meters (26,300 feet).
A team of climbers was able to bring his body further down to Camp 2, where it was picked up Thursday morning and taken directly to a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, and then on to the morgue. Expedition leader Arnold Coster accompanied the body.
Climbers were still attempting the difficult task of carrying two more bodies of Australian climber Maria Strydom and Indian climber Subhash Paul to a point where they could be retrieved by helicopters, which cannot go far beyond Camp 2 due to high winds and thin air at higher altitudes. Strydom and Paul also apparently suffered altitude sickness, with Strydom dying on Saturday while Paul succumbed on Monday.
Meanwhile, another team of Sherpa guides were heading to a spot called the Triangular Face, the final push toward the peak, to search for two other Indian climbers who went missing last weekend.
“Other climbers reported they might have spotted the bodies in the area,” Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha said, and noted it was unlikely they would have survived the harsh conditions on the mountain. But there was little time left for the search, with bad weather and monsoon rains expected to pick up at the end of May.
If the two Indian climbers are confirmed dead, that would bring the death toll for this year’s Everest season to five.
Many had hoped for a safe season, after avalanche disasters left 19 people dead in 2015 and 16 Sherpa guides in 2014. Nearly 400 foreign climbers, guides and Sherpas have made it to the top of Everest this year.
Separately, a Sherpa guide Ang Phurba slipped and fell about 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) to his death on May 19 while fixing ropes on the adjacent 8,516-meter (27,940-foot) peak of Lhotse. His body has been recovered. (AP)