Maria Strydom was part of a seven-week expedition to climb Mount Everest. While reports say she succumbed to altitude sickness, Strydom’s family found out differently thanks to a random Google search.
According to Australia’s 9 News, 34-year-old Maria Strydom‘s GPS system stopped working while on her Mount Everest climb. The source notes that the malfunction happened Friday morning. However, trackers were given a glimmer of possibility when Strydom’s GPS gave off a single signal the following day, May 21. Yet, the beacon may have shown false hope for the Mount Everest expedition.
Maria Strydom was a finance professor at Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia. Likewise, Strydom was known as an experienced climber. In accordance, on this particular trip — given her climbing experience — Maria brought along extra oxygen tanks for precautionary measures.
On Saturday night, Maria Strydom’s sister, Aletta Newman, came across a heart-dropping article from the Himalayan Times about the proposed deaths of some climbers attending a Mount Everest expedition. And, specifically, her sister — Maria — was named. She mentioned that it was the “absolute first” she had heard of anything concerning Strydom’s climbing expedition.
According to the report, as of yet, Strydom’s family still hasn’t heard anything from the company which conducted the Mount Everest trip. However, there are several sources to claim various reasons for Maria Strydom’s death. Some claim that Maria died from altitude sickness; others claim that Strydom’s death came from a stroke — even snow-blindness. Overall, Maria’s sister mentions that the family is looking for answers and isn’t receiving any. The source notes that she doesn’t even know, for sure, that Maria reached Mount Everest’s summit before her death.
Another report gives more information on Maria Strydom’s purpose behind the Mount Everest expedition. The source mentions that Strydom was making the climb to prove that vegans were just as strong as non-vegans. In a letter from the Monash Business School, Maria Strydom was recorded as having said that vegans are mostly misunderstood as malnourished individuals, and it was her hopes to set the record straight with her Mount Everest climb.
“It seems that people have this warped idea of vegans being malnourished and weak. By climbing the seven summits we want to prove that vegans can do anything and more…I guess everyone who gets into high altitude mountain climbing casts a fleeting thought towards Mount Everest…
“We’ve all heard stories of frostbite and having to turn around from excessive waiting times due to inexperienced people blocking routes. This can lead to life threatening situations and death where Sherpas and other climbers have to risk their lives to attempt rescues…
“There are certain aspects of the mountain which will be out of our control, such as avalanches and icefalls which have plagued the previous two seasons on Everest. We can’t worry about this aspect of the climb and the odds are still very small of being caught up in it.”
Maria Strydom mentioned that, after climbing the following list of mountains, Mount Everest was just the next tackle:
- Denali in Alaska
- Aconcagua in Argentina
- Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey
- and Kilimanjaro in Africa.
As Maria mentioned, she had climbed other mountainous regions as well. However, the newsletter did not list them all.
Nevertheless, while some sources blame altitude sickness as the culprit in Maria Strydom’s death, mountaineering expert Alan Arnette mentions the illness as a broad array of possible illnesses. For the most part, generally speaking “altitude sickness” — as it pertains to the degree of specifics — is relative to saying someone dies of “cancer.” There are various types. And, according to the source, Arnette notes that the sickness can be random and “very normal” among those who attempt to climb Mount Everest. Specifically, the expert says that it’s a dangerous mountain, and basically, it’s an encounter — however horrible — that can be expected every year.
Australia’s 9 News reports that the mountaineering expert explained the concept of “altitude sickness” and that it can range anywhere from “high-altitude pulmonary edema” to “high-altitude cerebral edema.” Of the aforementioned conditions, the former happens when fluid accumulates in the lungs. The latter happens when the brain swells from the atmospheric and environmental changes.
The expert explained that there’s no way to avoid such deaths except by slowly climbing Mount Everest, in order to give the body chances to adjust to the ever-changing conditions. Thus, it was a seven-week expedition.
At the moment, rescue efforts are underway to find Maria Strydom’s body — as well as her husband, of whom was also on the Mount Everest expedition with her.
All in all, what are your thoughts regarding this expedition-gone-wrong? Feel free to express them in the comments below.
[Image via Twitter]