Four Mount Everest climbers have died since Friday, and two others remain missing. Authorities have confirmed the deaths of Phurba Sherpa, Eric Arnold, Maria Strydom, and Subash Paul. Paresh Chandra Nath and Goutam Ghosh, who were members of Subash Paul’s team, have been missing since Saturday evening.
With an estimated height of 29,029 feet, Mount Everest is the tallest and most notorious mountain in the world. Each year, hundreds of climbers descend on Everest with dreams of reaching the peak. However, even in the best conditions, the climb is incredibly challenging and dangerous.
Since the first officially recorded ascent, successfully completed by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953, more than 200 people have died on Mount Everest.
Popular Science reports a majority of those who die on the infamous mountain are killed in an avalanche or an accidental fall. Other common causes of death on Everest include altitude sickness, cerebral edema, exhaustion, exposure, and heart attack.
— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 23, 2016
Although the ascent and descent are both dangerous, a majority of those who die on the mountain are killed on their way back to base camp.
“Most of the climbers died while climbing back down the mountain, usually in the ‘Death Zone,’ which is 8,000 meters up… and lethally combines blistering cold, low oxygen, and high elevation.”
Climbers who do not die are still risking serious injury and devastating illness. CNN reports an estimated 500 mountaineers are treated at Mount Everest’s base camp each year.
In addition to strained muscles and broken bones, climbers are often diagnosed with acute mountain sickness, frostbite, high-altitude cough, and cerebral and pulmonary edema.
Unfortunately, some of those conditions, including frostbite and cerebral and pulmonary edema, can have lifelong repercussions.
Despite the known risks, reaching the summit of Mount Everest remains the ultimate goal for many mountaineers. Most recently, four climbers were killed and two are still missing on the notorious mountain.
On Thursday, May 19, Phurba Sherpa was killed in an accidental fall while clearing a route approximately 500 feet from the summit. According to reports, the 25-year-old man’s death was confirmed at the Everest Base Camp by a member of the rescue team.
— CNN International (@cnni) May 23, 2016
On Friday, Netherlands resident Eric Arnold died of a suspected heart attack in the middle of the night. Officials said the 36-year-old triathlete made it to the summit and was on his way back to Everest Base Camp when he died.
Although a majority of Everest climbers are encouraged to undergo a comprehensive medical exam, it is unclear whether Arnold had an exam or was cleared by a doctor.
On Saturday, Australian native Maria Strydom, 34, began experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness. Although she also had reached the summit, Strydom was too ill to continue the descent. Officials confirmed the Monash Business School professor died before she made it back to base camp.
On Sunday, Trekking Camp Nepal spokesman Wangchu Sherpa confirmed Subash Paul died at Base Camp II. According to reports, the 44-year-old man also suffered from altitude sickness prior to his death.
Paresh Chandra Nath and Goutam Ghosh, who were part of Subash’s team, were reported on Saturday evening and remain missing. Wanchu blamed inclement weather for their disappearance.
“It is not clear what happened. We believe the weather suddenly deteriorated at some point, and the team lost direction.”
Although helicopters are unable to search at higher altitudes, officials are encouraging other expedition teams to be on a look out for the missing men.
Authorities said Sunita Hazra, who was a member of the same team, was also injured. However, she was transported off the mountain for treatment.
Mount Everest remains one of the most challenging and dangerous mountains in the world. Despite the risk, hundreds of mountaineers attempt to reach the summit each year.
[Image via Arsgera/Shutterstock]