An Australian woman who was making an attempt to climb the tallest peak of the world to prove that vegans can do anything was among the four people dead on their quest to the summit of Mount Everest.
Maria Strydom, 34, had reached the final camp from the summit before she and her husband, Robert Gropel, both began suffering from high-altitude pulmonary edema, which caused fluid to build up in Strydom’s brain, the Washington Post reported.
Her husband managed to survive the sickness and was immediately taken to a Nepali hospital for treatment, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Physically he’s OK, we think,” Heinz Gropel, Robert’s father, told the Australian. “Mentally he is a mess. He’s just lost his wife. These guys were not amateurs, they were experienced climbers.”
Maria and her husband Robert climbing Everest while adhering to a strict vegan diet was their “own personal Everest.”
The 34-year-old Strydom was a lecturer at Monash Business School in Melbourne, Australia. She wanted the world to know that Veganism is not a handicap.
The couple helped each other to adapt to rigorous diet required by vegans. They consumed no animal products whatsoever including eggs. They even discarded chocolate chip cookies — for which they were criticized according to The Washington Post. The critics pointed that they were not receiving enough iron and protein in their diet due to their censure of animal related products.
“It seems that people have this warped idea of vegans being malnourished and weak,” Strydom said in an interview on Monash’s blog. “By climbing the seven summits we want to prove that vegans can do anything and more.”
The “seven summits” referred to seven highest points on each continent.
According to Associated Press reports, two other people died on Everest, including 36-year-old Eric Arnold, who was part of the couple’s climbing team, and 25-year-old Phurba Sherpa, according to CNN. Some 30 more climbers also faced the wrath of the mountain, as they became severely sick, frostbitten, or both near the summit.
Eric Arnold had consistently tried to climb the mountain for four years before ultimately reaching the summit. He even managed to send a tweet from it, but he began suffering from altitude sickness during his descent, the Associated Press reported.
Despite having enough oxygen with him, Arnold grew too feeble to make it to the lower altitude required for his symptoms to fade out. He died Friday evening.
The couple were warned by husband’s uncle, Kurt Gropel, but they had already made up their minds to tackle the perils of the mountain.
“I had a foreboding, a bad, feeling,” Kurt Gropel told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I said, ‘I don’t want you to go’ — they weren’t very happy about that.”
“Everest is a killer. There are 200 corpses up there that decorate the path. They are all people who thought they could go up and down.”
Everest proved to be unfathomable for the couple as they only managed to reach up to Camp 4 which is 3000 feet below the summit. It was there the suffering from the cold became unbearable for Maria. The couple were both struck by altitude sickness. It caused fluid to build up in Strydom’s brain, which killed her Saturday.
Robert’s father, Heinz Gropel, told The Australian that Robert will probably recover, at least in the body.
“Physically he’s OK, we think,” Heinz said. “Mentally he is a mess. He’s just lost his wife. These guys were not amateurs, they were experienced climbers.”
Mount Everest is notoriously difficult to climb. Many have died trying to climb Everest. The main causes of death being avalanche, injury from fall or ice collapse, exposure, or health problems related to conditions on the mountain.
[Photo by Pixabay]