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The deaths on Everest

Altitude sickness can affect anyone regardless of age or fitness. Even though you have successfully coped with being up high once, doesn’t mean you will be OK another time…


@JoCarroll wrote:

my guide said I’d be bonkers to go on

Good for you for listening to that advice & turning back. I watched a celebrity prog’ who tackled Kilimanjaro for charity and it did seem to be the fitter ones that struggled. The rather rotund and sedentary Chis Moyes (I think that was his name) seemed to be unaffected by the altitude and just plodded up.

JoCarroll wrote:

I don’t know if Everest base camp is the same

My Nephew seemed to be there for some time, weeks even. They seemed to go on daily hikes (weather permitting) going to the next base camp, coming back, going again & staying there, hikes at that level before moving on.

Essex UK

I have also tackled Kilimanjaro – and knew, at 14,000 feet, that I was going to struggle (I could manage the altitude headache – but you need at least 4000 calories a day to cope with the walking, the altitude, and the cold – and I completely lost my appetite). At 16,000 feet – so 6hrs, off the top – my guide said I’d be bonkers to go on, and said it in such a way I knew he might try to stop me if I didn’t agree.

Of our group, only 50% made it to the top – and they were mostly men in their 30s who had walked steadily all the way. A young man who had bounced around 2 days earlier was taken down in a hurry when he was hopelessly sick. A PE teacher and marathon runner didn’t get up. All of us wobbled.

I know they get people up and down the mountain in four days – which isn’t really long enough to acclimatise (there’s only a limited number can sleep up there, and so they need as many as possible on the mountain to make as much money as possible). I don’t know if Everest base camp is the same – I know when I did a bit of Annapurna I could take my time, provided I ended up where I needed to be to sleep. But I went with one guide, not a group, and there are many more stopping places.

I love mountains – and I love being high. But I do know that the wonderful feeling of ‘being on top of the world’ on a mountain is illusory – and shortage of oxygen can feed that. I’ve always had wonderful guides who were prepared to tell me when I was being daft, and to take me downhill if I needed it.

As someone who’s tackled Kilimanjaro I’d welcome your thoughts on this thread @Debbie

Essex UK

A few years ago a friend’s daughter did the Base Camp walk there, and she was surprised to find
that it appeared to be the young, fit and active who suffered more from altitude sickness than your
average ‘Sunday walker’.

Albox, Costa Almeria, Spain

Cruzeroqueen1 wrote:

You can’t second-guess every eventuality, so as long as you take reasonably precautions,
and evaluate all possible scenarioes, then weigh up the pros and cons…… and go for it!

Agreed – though I think the guides might have to be a bit more directive. Lack of oxygen, at high altitudes, can make people not used to it think oddly – including delusions about their own ability. Which is why is makes sense that people die on the way down (having been up there for too long) and not on the way up.

You can’t second-guess every eventuality, so as long as you take reasonably precautions,
and evaluate all possible scenarioes, then weigh up the pros and cons…… and go for it!

Albox, Costa Almeria, Spain

@JoCarroll wrote:

I suppose it’s about managing risk

I think you hit the nail squarely on the head here Jo, that is exactly what its about. We’ve heard a few stories of young footballers dropping dead on the field/training ground. They had access to medical screening & healthcare most of us only dream about but sometimes the body just gives up unexpectedly. I guess the more extreme the circumstances/conditions, the more likely that is to happen.

Essex UK

I see what you’re saying, Steve – and agree ‘that’ photograph and the sensationalised reports of deaths don’t help anyone. And well done to your nephew climbing it (I get why anyone wants to).

It was the two-day weather window that made this particular Everest climb such a challenge – but maybe there needs to be some planning into how things are managed if that should happen again – and thinking into why people would die on the way down rather than the way up!

I suppose it’s about managing risk – I’ve done parachute jumps and zip lines, so have no problem with risk-taking, but am critical of anyone going into mountains (including those in Snowdonia or Scotland) ill-prepared.

(And, to answer my own question as to any advice I’d give my grandson or daughter – the boy I’m thinking of would simply turn round and point to some of the things I’ve done and make comments about pots and kettles!)

coolonespa wrote:

08:06 04-Jun-19

My nephew climbed Everest last year, the final one having climbed the highest peak in each of the other continents. From what I understand it was controlled & careful, with significant acclimatisation prior to making the final push to the peak. Those with insufficient experience & issues with altitude sickness were weeded out during the climbs to the lower base camps. However careful, there is always a risk though….that’s why people do it and many other “extreme sports”.

I think there was an element of making the most mischief with that photo. In normal circumstances the climbers are taken up in stages to the peak but the unusual weather conditions only gave them a two day window to get everyone up who had spent weeks & significant funds preparing…hence the queues.

No deaths are welcome but the numbers here are tiny compared with those that die from smoking & we don’t ban that or price them out of people’s reach, so why change anything about Everest?

A very succinct obversation, @coolonespa – let’s downgrade the sensationalism!

Albox, Costa Almeria, Spain
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