Update (5/25): In a bizarre twist to this story, Seven Summit Treks, the same organization that told the Himalayan Times that they’d discovered four dead bodies at Camp IV, are now saying they did not. Alan Arnette reported on his blog today that he spoke with Mingma Sherpa, Managing Director at Seven Summit Treks, who confirmed the “mistake.” Arnette also spoke with Willie Benegas, veteran Everest climber and guide with Benegas Brothers Expeditions, from the mountain, en route to his 12th summit via the South (Nepal) side, and Benegas confirmed there were no bodies.
The death toll, then, is back down to six for the season.
Earlier: On May 24 four climbers were found dead inside their tent on Everest, bringing this season’s death toll to ten. The four people, two foreign climbers and two Sherpa, were at Camp IV, the final camp before the summit, at 26,300 feet, otherwise known as the Death Zone. The cause of their deaths is currently unknown. A small team of Sherpa climbers from Seven Summit Treks who were sent to recover the body of Slovak mountaineer Vladimir Strba discovered the four new fatalities.
At the time, Everest’s notorious jet stream winds were in full effect, halting any summit-attempts-in-progress. The four climbers were most likely hunkered down in the tent waiting out the weather. Alan Arnette, America’s foremost Everest chronicler, speculated on his blog that the group most likely “died from carbon monoxide poisoning by using their stoves in the tent without proper ventilation.”
Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has yet to name the victims, but the Himalayan Times reported that four persons from a new trekking company had been out of contact since May 21, last seen near a section of the route in between Camp IV and the summit, known as the Balcony, at about 27,500 feet.
Check back for updates on this developing story.
Adrian Ballinger reacted to what he calls “4 more unnecessary deaths on the mtn.” in a long instagram post:
Let me start by apologizing if I'm a little bit punchy. I'm at 23,000 feet. ? Today should have been a day of joy – feeling strong on my #Everest summit push with my friends in perfect conditions. Instead I spent the day fuming, writing and rewriting in my head a fictional op-ed on Everest and why its time to speak out and why we have to clean up our house. So here's the short version. . . Today we heard of 4 more unnecessary deaths on the mtn. This brings the death toll this season to 10, with a vast majority totally avoidable. It pisses me off. My condolences to the victims and their loved ones. But silence is not the way to respect their deaths. We have to demand standards from the guide/logistics companies working on Everest. And while the newer cut-rate local companies are a big part of the problem, western guide companies have to set an example. American companies on both sides of the mountain this week made poor decisions that endangered their clients. They were companies led by non-certified guides. I watched clients of an American company come off the mountain today with frostbite and a failed summit bid. There is no excuse. Weather forecasts have for over a week predicted the winds that decimated camps on both sides of the mountain on the 23rd. . . Okay, so that's what pisses me off. What's the solution? 3 simple requirements: 1. Mountain guides should be AMGA/IFMGA certified. Experience is key. But experience should be built on education and examination. 2. Sherpa (High Altitude Workers) should be @khumbuclimbingcenter or Nepal Mountaineering Association certified. 3. Clients should meet minimum standards of experience (30 days on crampons, 10 days on rock, 3x6000m peaks, 1x7000m peak, 1x8000m peak). . . We need to start calling out companies that dont meet these standards. Sure, certified guides and Sherpa cost more. And sure, our group sizes may shrink if we require minimum standards from our clients. But there will be fewer deaths. And we will be able to be proud of our profession once again. . . Everest media voices – @alan.arnette @natgeo @mensjournal @outsidemagazine – I hope you'll join me in spurring this conversation! #everestnofilter
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