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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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American climber dies after reaching top of Mount Everest

About half a dozen climbers died on Everest last week, including two Irish men .

Mount Everest as seen from Namche Bajar, Solukhumbu district, Nepal, Monday
Mount Everest as seen from Namche Bajar, Solukhumbu district, Nepal, Monday

AN AMERICAN CLIMBER HAS died on the descent from the summit of  Mount Everest. 

Christopher Kulish, a 62-year-old Colorado lawyer, died yesterday at a camp below the summit during his descent. The cause isn’t yet known, said his brother, Mark.

Kulish had just reached the top of Everest with a small group after crowds of hundreds of climbers congested the 8,850-meter peak last week.

“He saw his last sunrise from the highest peak on Earth. At that instant, he became a member of the ’7 Summit Club,’ having scaled the highest peak on each continent,” Mark Kulish said in a statement.

He described his brother as an attorney in his “day job” who was “an inveterate climber of peaks in Colorado, the West and the world over.”

“He passed away doing what he loved, after returning to the next camp below the peak,” Mark Kulish said.

About half a dozen climbers died on Everest last week, including two Irish men - Seamus Lawless and Kevin Hynes. 

Most are believed to have suffered from altitude sickness, which is caused by low amounts of oxygen at high elevation and can cause headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion.

There are 41 teams with a total of 378 climbers permitted to scale Everest during the spring climbing season. An equal number of Nepalese guides are helping them get to the top.

everest-296x296 There are concerns that the drive for profits is trumping safety on Everest. Source: Project Possible/Facebook.com

Nepal Everest Garbage Nepalese army men pile up rubbish collected from Mount Everest in Namche Bajar, Solukhumbu district, Nepal, Monday Source: AP/PA Images

Ameesha Chauhan, a survivor of the Everest “traffic jam” who is in hospital recovering from frostbite, said climbers without basic skills should be barred to prevent a recurrence of this year’s deadly season on the world’s highest peak.

Nepal issued a record 381 Everest permits this season, and several hundred of the summiteers are not properly trained, take poor decisions and “put their own life in risk and also the Sherpa guides”, Chauhan said.

The 29-year-old Indian had to wait 20 minutes to come down from the 8,848-metre peak, but others were held up for hours.

“I saw some climbers without basic skills fully relying on their Sherpa guides. The government should fix the qualification criteria,” she told AFP in Kathmandu’s general hospital, all the toes on her left foot black and blue and her face weather-worn.

“Only trained climbers should be granted the permit to climb Everest.”

As well as the Everest deaths, nine climbers have died on other 8,000-metre Himalayan peaks, while one is missing.

At least four deaths on the world’s highest mountain have been blamed on over-crowding with teams waiting sometimes for hours in the “death zone” where the cold is bitter, the air dangerously thin and the terrain treacherous.

This year’s Everest toll is the highest since 2014-15 when huge earthquakes triggered devastating avalanches.

The crowding was laid bare in a photo taken last week by Nirmal Purja, a former Gurkha soldier, of a long queue of climbers snaking up to the summit.

The photo by the head of the Project Possible charity aiming to climb the 14 8,000 metre-plus peaks in the world in seven months has gone viral from his @nimsdai Twitter handle and highlighted the dangers amidst the mania to climb Everest.

“Many climbers’ oxygen was running out,” Chauhan said.

“Some climbers died due to their own negligence. They insisted on reaching the top even if their oxygen is running out, which risks their life,” she said.

Another climber, the “adventure filmmaker” Elia Saikaly, posted on Instagram on Sunday that he had reached the summit of Everest and “cannot believe what I saw up there”.

“Death. Carnage. Chaos. Lineups. Dead bodies on the route and in tents at camp 4. People who I tried to turn back who ended up dying. People being dragged down. Walking over bodies,” Saikaly wrote.

Everything you read in the sensational headlines all played out on our summit night.

€10,000 ticket 

Mountaineering has become big business since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent of Everest in 1953, with the mountain becoming a favourite “bucket list” feat.

Nepal’s permits this season cost $11,000 (€9,800) each, providing the impoverished Himalayan country with much-needed foreign currency.

At least 140 others were granted permits to climb from the northern flank in Tibet.

Although final numbers are yet to be released with the season set to wrap up this week, this could take the total past last year’s record of 807 people reaching the summit.

With reporting from Associated Press  

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