Updated: Reports of Four Deaths on Everest Were False
The world’s tallest mountain has claimed 6 lives this season
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
UPDATE: Mountaineer and Everest blogger Alan Arnette reported Thursday that reports of Sherpas finding the bodies of four dead climbers in a tent at Camp IV were false.“Managing Director at Seven Summit Treks, Mingma Sherpa, who provided the the information to Himalayan Times reporter Rajan Pokhrel who wrote the story… Both now say it was a mistake and were no 4 new bodies,” Arnette wrote. This article has since been updated to reflect that information.
Relying on the initial news reports, Outside incorrectly stated that Sherpas found the bodies of four climbers who appeared to have suffocated inside their tent at Camp IV on Tuesday. At the time, Arnette speculated that “it is most likely [the climbers] died from carbon monoxide poisoning by using their stoves in the tent without proper ventilation.”
Camp IV sits at 26,246 feet. Any elevation above 26,000 feet is considered the “Death Zone,” where the air is too thin to support life for extended periods of time. Mountaineers pitch their tents at Camp IV while waiting for an opportunity to push for the summit. Due to extreme weather this season, summit windows have been narrow, and climbers making summit pushes have encountered dangerous conditions, including high winds. Alan Arnette, for instance, reported in his blog that extreme wind has prevented some groups from climbing to the summit, leaving them in tents at high elevation.
Six people have died on the mountain so far this year.
Earlier this week, a team of Sherpas tried to recover the body of Vladimir Strba, a Slovakian who died from altitude sickness at Camp IV on May 21. Another climber, an Alabama doctor named Roland Yearwood, was making his second attempt at Everest when he died near the summit, also on May 21. Officials are trying to determine what caused his death. Two other climbers, Ravi Kumar of India and Francesco Marchetti of Australia, died on Everest over the weekend, according to news reports. Kumar reportedly fell during his descent, and Marchetti’s cause of death is still unclear, though the Himalayan Times suspects altitude sickness.
On May 6, 85-year-old Nepalese mountaineer Min Bahadur Sherchan died while trying to reclaim the record as the oldest person to summit. A week earlier, on April 30, in a shock to the mountaineering community, famed Swiss climber Ueli Steck died in a fall while acclimatizing near Everest.
The year’s deaths follow close on the heels of the two deadliest seasons on Everest. The 2014 earthquake killed 16 people on the mountain, and in 2015 a total of 24 people died, 18 of them in an avalanche that swept through Base Camp.