11 People Dead in Mount Everest Climb; Australian Man Found Alive
11 people died in this spring’s Mount Everest Climb
Eleven people have died in less than two weeks after poor weather cut the climbing window short, leaving mountaineers waiting in long queues to the summit, risking exhaustion and running out of oxygen.
At least four of the deaths have been blamed on overcrowding with teams sometimes waiting for hours in the “death zone” where the cold is bitter, the air dangerously thin and the terrain treacherous.
Australian Man Found Alive
One man, who was attempting to climb Mount Everest without the aid of O2, was rescued after he was stranded unconscious on Mount Everest. He has been identified as Gilian Lee.
Few details have emerged since news first broke of the miraculous rescue, which involved a yak and a team of Tibetan alpine specialists who were on the mountain doing repair work.
The Australian climber who fell into unconsciousness while attempting to summit Mount Everest was coughing “continuously” and encouraged to turn back, according to his sherpa guide and a fellow climber.
Canberra public servant Gilian Lee’s fourth attempt to scale the world’s tallest mountain nearly ended in disaster as he had to be rescued high up on the northern slopes.
Tibetan climbers found Mr Lee unconscious at an altitude of 7,500 meters last Wednesday.
The ABC understands Mr Lee, who is recovering in Kathmandu’s Grande hospital, was attempting to reach the summit without oxygen tanks.
He is now in intensive care and barely able to talk.
“He loved to climb mountains and he wanted to summit Everest,” said Tashi Sherpa, part-owner of the expedition company Mr Lee paid to climb the peak.
“He had a big dream to do this but the thing is he did not want to use oxygen.”
The day before he was rescued, Mr Lee posted on Twitter that he’d had a “rough night” at Camp One, a waypoint on the path to the top of the mountain located at an elevation of about 6000 meters, due to a persistent chest infection.
Mr Lee was rescued by Yak
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has refused to provide any other details about his dramatic survival story, citing privacy reasons.
“Every day of delay is a nightmare,” Mr Lee wrote.
And he spoke about the particular challenges of trying to prepare for an Everest ascent without using oxygen cylinders. Mr Lee said that without being able to climb higher than Camp One, he was unsure about acclimatising to the low oxygen levels further up the mountain.
“The science for acclimatisation for non-O2 [oxygen cylinder climbing] is not as well known. Does one really need to hit high high? Last year a higher point worked OK. It’s all out of my hands…horrible feeling,” Mr Lee concluded.
Climbing without oxygen appeared important for Mr Lee. When a friend queried his decision on Facebook, Mr Lee said that if he were climbing with oxygen “I might as well chop 50% of the mountain height off.”
Gillian Lee had summitted mountains before without O2
He said he had summitted another extremely high peak, Manaslu, which is the eighth highest mountain in the world and also in Nepal, without oxygen tanks.
A day earlier, Mr Lee had been more optimistic, writing that his “support and sherpa team are looking strong and committed.”
In a post on his blog, he described climbing Everest as “unfinished business” because of a failed attempt that he blamed on “being horrendously let down by the expedition company”, which he called an inexperienced, Indian-run company.
“I have put a lot of pressure onto myself. I am running out of $$ to keep chasing this dream,” Mr Lee wrote. “I will never take supplemental O2, as it is just not me. It is like asking Alex Hannold to use a rope in his monumental solo climb up El Capitan. Defeats the purpose of being there in the first place in my opinion. This will be the last throw of the dice.”