Everest

mt everest The topic of this post is Mount Chomolungma, otherwise known as Everest. It’s a requiem for those who tried to conquer the Great Mountain, perhaps even made it to the summit, but never came back, forever resting on her face, dead. Like in no kidding dead.

Some might find the images in this post excessively morbid. And so they are. Thus fair warning:  Look away if these images make you uneasy or otherwise uncomfortable. If you cannot handle more than one or two dead bodies per blog post, then don’t read any further.

With morbid fascination I studied these 7 pictures. Every image comes with informative caption. I translated and interpreted each caption in the text underneath. It’s neither Google nor literal translation. Quite out of character in regard to the general spirit of my blog page, this post is no place for humor, satire, sarcasm or sardonic remarks. everest1The caption says, roughly, the following: If it is so important to prove to yourself that you are, indeed, mortal, then climbing Mount Everest is for you. Those people whose remains litter the face of the great mountain thought that the tales of gruesome deaths weren’t about them. Now, the sight of their frozen bodies serve as a reminder that not everything is in human hands, and that Chomolungma has the mind of her own. everest2There isn’t any reliable statistical record of how many climbers have perished while trying to conquer Mount Everest. More often than not, the climbers either embark on the dangerous adventure by their lonesome or form small groups of 3 to 5 people. Sometimes no one comes back to report the tragedy.  The price tag of such endeavor varies from $25,000 to $60,000. At times, people try to economize on necessities but pay the ultimate price for cutting corners, parting with their lives in the end.

Thus, the eternal guard of some 150 – 200 dead alpinists watches over those who passes them by on their way up the mountain. Some of the climbers admitted to having felt deathly gaze of a Black Mountaineer on their backs.

Thus far, there are 8 dead bodies “open to view” on the Northern path and another 10 on the Southern one. There are more, but no one dares to trail off the beaten path to look for them. The fear of dying with no one to help is greater than fascination with someone else’s death.everest3Climbers who ventured to conquer Mount Everest and safely made it to the summit and back, can tell plenty of creepy tales. Everest is unforgiving of human mistakes and indifference.

In 1996 a group of Japanese climbers from the Fukuoka University was on the way up the mountain.  They spotted 3 mountaineers from India — emaciated and half-frozen, the three just barely survived a vicious storm. Japanese climbers passed them by, not wishing to abandon their quest. On the descent, there  was no one in need of help — all three climbers from India had frozen to death. everest4This body was identified as remains of the first climber who conquered Mount Everest but never made it back from the summit, George Mallory. In 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine stared ascent. They were  last seen alive through the binoculars, in the clearing of the cloud cover, approximately 150 meters from the summit. Then the clouds gathered again and Mallory and Irvine disappeared from view to never be seen again.

Only in 1999, 75 years later, at the elevation of 8,290 meters (appr. 27,200 feet) the climbers going up the mountain stumbled over a pile of dead bodies. Those people perished within the last 5 to 10 years. One of the bodies was  identified as that of Mallory. He laid face down, arms spread wide as if trying to embrace the Mountain, his head and hands completely fused with ice.everest5Andrew Irvine’s body has never been found, although the guiding rope around Mallory’s waist suggested that the partners were together up until Mallory’s death. The rope was cut off with knife — perhaps Irvine was still capable of moving when Mallory fell, and he left his body behind only to die somewhere down the path.everest6The icy winds and snow are busy at work: uncovered body parts are weathered to the bone. The older the cadaver, the less flesh remains on its bones. Removal of the dead is an impossible task: the elevation is too high for the chopper to reach them and, thus far, there haven’t been any volunteers to carry the weight of between 100 and 200 pounds down the steep and treacherous mountain path.everest7Francys Arsentiev (January 18, 1958 – May 24, 1998) became the first woman from the United States to reach the summit without the aid of bottled oxygen, on May 22, 1998. She tried to establish a record of such climb. During the course of the treacherous descent, Francys and her’ Russian husband, Sergei Arsentiev, became separated. Sergei Arsentiev made it to the base camp, realized Francys hasn’t arrive, turned around and went back up the mountain in search of her. His ice axe and rope were found near her frozen body. Francys died, lying on her side, still clipped onto the guide rope. She was 40 years old, the mother of a son.

Sergei was nowhere to be found.  In 1999, however,  Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition (to find evidence that Mallory and Irvine had been the first to summit Everest in their attempt of 8–9 June 1924)  discovered Sergei’s body lower on the mountain face. Apparently he has sustained a fatal fall while attempting to rescue his wife.

For years, the remains of Fracys Arsentiev was plainly visible from the climbing route. In 2007, Ian Wodall initiated and led an expedition “The Tao of Everest”. After a brief ritual, Fracys’ body, wrapped in American flag, was dropped to a lower location on the face of the mountain, thus removing it from view.

On the photograph: a rescue mission of a distressed climber. Such things happen too, but not too often.

This January, some places on the planet feel no warmer than Chomolungma. Stay warm. Stay safe.

Update: On February, Apr 19, 2014, gruesome news were received from Katmandu. The title of this article from the THE ASSOCIATED PRESS correspondent BINAJ GURUBACHARYA says it all: Today was the deadliest day in the history of Mount Everest.A devastating avalanche leaves 12 people dead and four more missing.

RIP.

 

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