Authorities in Nepal have confirmed that four climbers from Germany, South Korea, China and Canada have died and a fifth remains missing after their group hit bad weather while descending from the peak of Mount Everest.
The climbers, among 341 who have attempted Everest since the season opened in April, were identified as 61-year-old German doctor Eberhard Schaaf, 33-year-old Nepal-born Canadian Shriya Shah, 55-year-old Chinese climber Ha Wenyi and South Korean mountaineer Song Won-bin.
Conditions have been particularly hazardous this year, said Nepalese government official Gyanendra Shrestha, with high winds and heavy snowfall delaying the construction of makeshift bridges over precipices.
While specifics on the victims' deaths were unavailable, Ang Tshering Sherpa of the Kathmandu-based Asian Trekking adventure revealed that the majority of fatalities on Mount Everest are "due to high altitude sickness."
"Climbers spend their energy on the ascent and they are exhausted and fatigued on the descent," Sherpa explained.
Nearly 4000 people have climbed Mount Everest since 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first scaled it.
In total, more than 200 people have died on the slopes of Mt. Everest and a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2006 found that, on average, there had been one death for every 10 successful attempts to scale the massive peak.