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Home > Abandoned - Explained, Amazing, Asia, Creepy, Explained > Over 200 Dead Bodies on Mount Everest

Over 200 Dead Bodies on Mount Everest

As of mid-2011, Mount Everest has claimed the lives of over 216 known mountain climbers. The area above 26,000 feet is called “the Death Zone”, where breathing fresh oxygen from canisters is necessary for all but the most experienced climbers.

The atmospheric pressure is about a third of that at sea level, meaning there is about one third the amount of oxygen to breathe.  The air is so thin recovery of bodies has proven impossible.  Given this, many victims lay where they took their last breath.

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Tensing Norgay and Edmund Hilary on Mount Everest, May 28 1953

Tensing Norgay and Edmund Hilary on Mount Everest, May 28 1953

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Sergei and Francys Arsentiev

“PLEASE don’t leave me,” the dying woman cried.  Two climbers heard the screams of Francys Arsentiev, an American climber who had fallen after succumbing to snow blindness and found herself separated from her husband.

They were in the death zone, they were low on oxygen, and the woman was on the side of a steep cliff; carrying her was not an option; the trip just to get down to her would be a risk of their own lives.

Despite the risks, the two climbers – Ian Woodall and Cathy O’Dowd – climbed down to her and did what they could to give her assistance.

But it was too late.  Ian and Cathy administered oxygen and tended to Fran, but there was nothing they could do. They returned to base camp to seek help and report their findings.

Eight years later the two climbers would return (above). In an attempt to give Francys a makeshift high-altitude burial, they would place an American flag on her body along with a note from her family.

At the time of Francys’ death in 1998, no one knew what had happened to her husband and climbing partner Sergei. He had been climbing with her and had disappeared around the same time; all that had been found were his pick axe and rope.

On the day Francys died, other climbers had last seen Sergei far ahead of Francys on the descent after the two had accidentally become separated.

Everest-Francys-4

Sergei & Francys

Looking for his wife, Sergei later backtracked toward the summit despite knowing he did not have enough Oxygen to last. His exposure to the harsh conditions on Everest so far had been all he could handle, and he was beginning to suffer from frostbite. Still, Sergei would not leave his wife behind.

Sergei had made his way back to Francys, and descended toward the cliff she lay on as she screamed for help. Sadly, he fell to his death trying to reach his wife.

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

Everest-Francys-2 Everest-Francys-3 Everest-Francys-1

Francys Arsentiev before her death; Francys memorial

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Green Boots

PaljorPossibly the most famous body on Everest is that of “Green Boots” (real name: Tsewang Paljor), an Indian climber and constable with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Paljor’s body appeared where it is today on May 10th, 1996.

Tsewang was part of the unfortunate group involved in the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster, the deadliest single disaster in Mt. Everest’s history (update: until 2014’s Everest Avalanche Disaster).

Paljor was part of a three-man group attempting to be the first Indian team to ascend Mt. Everest from the Northeastern route. Unfortunately for the Indian team, their timing couldn’t have been worse: The weather during the 1996 season was extremely volatile; that year would ultimately become one of the deadliest on record for Mount Everest climbers.

When the storm rolled in, visibility dropped to zero and the temperature dropped. Separated from the climbers in his group and suffering from the cold, Paljor found a small cave and huddled inside for protection from the elements.

It would become his final resting place. (below)

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George Mallory

One of the more storied climbers that met his fate on Everest was George Mallory, a famous English Mountaineer.  In 1924, Mallory fell to his death during a storm while attempting to be the first to reach the summit of Everest. His body was discovered in 1999 during the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition.

Decades earlier, Chinese climbers had reported seeing a “European body” laying face down on a shelf off the main trail. Given the description and the date of the find, experts had always assumed it was the body of Andrew Irvine.  Irvine was a fellow English Mountaineer who had attempted the ascent of Everest with Mallory, and perished in the same storm.

During a 1933 Everest expedition climbers found Andrew Irvine’s axe and rope. Because of this it was widely believed to be Irvine’s body discovered by the Chinese. When a body was found during the 1999 search expedition, it was discovered to be that of George Mallory, not Irvine.

Mallory was found face down in a bunch of shale with his arms spread out and up. His skin was in remarkably good condition, but was tanned from 75 years of sun exposure. After examining the body experts hypothesized that Mallory’s rope had failed, their hypothesis bolstered by the short severed rope found tied around his waist.

He was also found with a golf ball-sized hole in his forehead, indicating Mallory might have suffered blunt force trauma from striking a sharp rock.

Andrew Irvine has never been found.

Video of the Mallory Body Find on Everest:

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The morbidity of seeing hundreds of bodies along one’s ascent up Mount Everest is only trumped by the fascination of the levels of preservation of many of the bodies.  Everest temperatures are ideal for preservation; perhaps some of these brave souls will be re-discovered by future generations.

Or maybe not?

The Nepalese consider Mount Everest sacred and do not wish for it to become a graveyard. Parents of some who have perished have asked for the bodies to be left on the mountain – but there is a dilemma as this is against Nepalese law.

As soon as a body can be reached for retrieval, it is and then is brought down for identification and burial. Those too high for retrieval will have stone tombs (called cairns) constructed around the corpses to shield them from the elements and the view of other climbers.  A few corpses located on shallow ledges were rolled off to be buried in the snow below, away from the trail.

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

 

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David Sharp

David was an English mountaineer who attempted ascent in 2005. Sharp was part of an organized expedition, but when the weather turned and the group wanted to head back, he instead attempted to push on by himself. He eventually reached a small cave and stopped for a rest.

He froze in place. As he lay near death below the summit, he was reportedly passed by 40 other climbers heading both directions.

Why did no one stop to help? Coincidentally, David stopped to rest in the same cave as Green Boots; one theory holds the passing climbers might have assumed Sharp was Green Boots.

David was eventually discovered by a group of sherpas from a later expedition. During an ascent they noticed Sharp just off the trail, barely alive and offering responsive moaning when queried. However when the sherpas reached David, he was not coherent, badly frostbitten, and only capable of repeating his name and expedition number.

After giving David some oxygen, the sherpas attempted to help him climb down, but in his condition he was unable to stand under his own power. Realizing Sharp was not going to be able to move, the sherpas pulled David into the sunlight, hoping the sun exposure would provide some warmth.

The sherpas left David some oxygen and a blanket and quickly retreated to basecamp to report their find. By the time they returned with help, David was dead.The sherpas were heroic in the inclement weather, brave enough to return while others retreated – but it was already too late when they first found him.

Sharp was last seen alive by a documentary crew following double-amputee Mark Inglis during his climb. The crew were had cameras rolling when they approached David, and the footage was used in the resulting documentary (see below).

“Dying for Everest” – a short documentary outlining the David Sharp case including video of Sharp next to Green Boots:

Below: David Sharp’s memorial, David Sharp, and Green Boots’ Cave where David Sharp was found

  

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Some died peacefully in their sleep, while others (who fell and/or became injured) were left to die slowly of hypothermia.  Until recently, the statistics were nearly one in four climbers dies attempting to reach the summit.

Advancements in technology and experience have led to a better survival rate of climbers. As of 2011 about 1,000 climbers a year attempt to reach the summit, and on average 15-20 perish.

Expeditions are the primary source of income for Nepal, and licenses to ascend start at around $25,000.

If you have lesser experience and want to ascend with an experienced group, several companies will lead you to the top with a team of sherpas starting around $40,000 per person.

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Quick video of a discovered body:  

Satellite & Map: here

* May the climbers who have perished on Mount Everest rest in peace. *

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  1. April 12, 2014 at 19:41

    This blog was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something that helped me.
    Thanks!

  2. Pat
    April 19, 2014 at 04:16

    Much like the Vietnam Memorial in washington, d.C., memorials can be necessary precatutions to future generations of mankind’s folly, regardless of his noble spirit, that sometimes, things that seem safe to do sometimes are sometimes quite hazardous.

    Don’t former climbers owe that to future would be climbers of the price some paid for the desire to conquer nature, and make their own history of remarkable feats?

  3. April 19, 2014 at 07:17

    Last year a good man and his son died on that mountain trying to become the first father and son team to make the ascent. His name MARTY SCHMIDT and his brave son DENALI. They were residing in New Zealand. Marty is from Castro Valley High. I remember him telling me when we were in jr. high he was a guide for climbers at Yosemite. He ended up scaling major peaks on several continents. So God Bless you my Friend and your good son as well.This goes for all who died on that mountain.

    • TJ
      August 21, 2014 at 00:58

      Castro Valley High, what year? Played them in Baseball in HS

  4. Dev Nepal
    April 27, 2014 at 12:40

    Is there any way to pull them back and handover to their relatives ??

    • Timothy
      June 2, 2014 at 07:50

      Usually, if you try to remove a body from the death zone you join them.

  5. June 25, 2014 at 19:37

    Finasteride on the other hand has been approved by Food and Drug Administration to treat enlargement of prostate.
    Zinc absorption and vitamin C intake could be synergistic.
    It improves your hair’s elasticity, texture and strength.

    • JUDY
      November 1, 2014 at 18:32

      So that would save the dead climbers? REGROW THEIR HAIR! AND SHRINK THEIR PROSTATES TOO!

  6. August 1, 2014 at 19:39

    Now that was a crazy read. Great article! I knew Everest was dangerous and that people died but I never knew that bodies we’re still up there like that.

  7. HueMan
    August 1, 2014 at 20:23

    Rebel, that was my take a while back when I stumbled on this story. If that is not your area of interest you have no real reason to know that the mountain is absolutely abundant with frozen and desiccated bodies. Very surprising to learn and scary as well.

  8. James Russel
    August 6, 2014 at 22:39

    A good friend of mine from high school managed to make the climb back in 2008. He has some amazing stories to tell, as one could imagine. One of my favorites is the story of when he encountered Green Boots. I suppose Green Boots really struck Mark as an amazing encounter, which really brought in the reality of what he was doing. Apparently, Mark wanted to leave his “mark” on Green boots, so he proceed to urinate on Green Boots face (or what was left of it). It brings a smile to my face to think that Mark’s urine is still frozen on Green Boot’s face!

    • Pittman
      August 6, 2014 at 23:21

      Your friend Mark is an idiot, and if I had seen him pissing on green boots he would be lying along side of him.

    • thegirl
      August 9, 2014 at 17:11

      Your friends dork would have fallen off from frostbite had he done that you troll.

    • September 17, 2014 at 21:37

      A fabricated story if there ever was one.

    • Cactus_Sack
      November 28, 2014 at 23:00

      if this weren’t such an obvious lie, i’d say your buddy mark deserved to slip on his own piss slick and take the big tumble.

  9. Austin
    August 7, 2014 at 13:17

    Your friend is very rude. Maybe someone will pee on him when he is dead. Very mature

  10. thegirl
    August 9, 2014 at 17:17

    I grew up an hour away from the tundra treeline. A couple of times a season they would bring some poor bastard into town looking not much unlike the fellow in the photo above the “Dead Body on Everest-South Col” clip. Paradoxical undressing, the body constricting as they freeze.
    My older foster brother went on to be a firefighter when we were grown, He’s reported that people that burn and people that freeze often end up in similar postures.

  11. August 18, 2014 at 09:55

    That was the dirtiest thing I’ve ever heard of, urinating on a dead man’s face! You both sound like Americans, and very rude. It’s a disgrace to even print this

    • Bevi
      September 15, 2014 at 19:07

      @Thomas Burcher: I do agree with your comment on how disgusting and disgraceful it is to do something like that but please don’t lump all Americans together in one such disrespectful group. I, for one, have great respect for other cultures and adventure hobbies of all kinds. Had I been able to climb any of these beautiful ranges myself, my reaction would most certainly NOT be to desecrate their graves. Not all americans are like this idiot Mark and his “friend”…if they even are from the U.S. Not all of us Americans are rude, contrary to what some people believe.

      • Cactus_Sack
        November 28, 2014 at 23:07

        Second this – i’m usually far from broadcasting my U.S. nationality when i’m abroad (because of both this sort of prejudice and because, i admit, i am embarrassed by it’s frequent substantiation), but your sweeping generalization is really just about as indecent as the behavior which you are remonstrating.

  12. Mohammad Ayub
    August 25, 2014 at 04:05

    More than 200 young men died on Mt. Everest. Leaving behind their parents, families,friends wives and minor children whose eyes are filled with tears. It is very shocking in its own place. But it is a great place that the substantial courage would be explored after centuries by the people to come to these graves of the men of courage preserved for their knowledge and research. I salute to the courage and fearless spirits of all of them burried under the snow. God bless their souls. I with the relationship humanity am proud of them. Thanks.

  13. suz
    October 9, 2014 at 05:52

    I would loved to know if he had the balls to say he peed to anyone at base camp,sherpas or guides….bet he wasn’t brave enough…shame he didn’t get frost-bite,well,that’s if he did it anyway.bit of a stupid idiot,are you sure you want to be his friend.

  14. Hypatias Daughter
    November 4, 2014 at 16:12

    Mohammad Ayub
    Approximately 1/7 of Everest climbers have been women. Not all of those 200 dead are men. Yasuko Namba was a 47 year old Japanese woman who died in the 1996 season coming down from the summit of Mt Everest. This was her completion of climbing the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on seven continents.
    Even the story above tells about the death of Francys Arsentiev, an American woman climber, and her husband.

  15. November 24, 2014 at 21:10

    Isn’t K2 even more dangerous?

Comment pages
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