Has anyone ever gotten lost on Mount Everest? How were they found?

Has anyone ever gotten lost on Mount Everest? How were they found?

# Getting Lost on Mount Everest – A Unthinkably Dangerous Reality

Mount Everest, the tallest peak in the world, has witnessed countless adventurous expeditions since the preliminary attempts in the early 1900s. Endeavors to reach its pinnacle encapsulate a mixture of extreme adventure, human determination, and irrefutably, real danger. There are numerous cases of climbers who have undergone serious misfortune, ranging from avalanches, harsh atmospheric conditions, to getting lost. It is not difficult to imagine how perilous getting lost on this icy behemoth can be. Within this narrative, we embark on an exploration of such incidences.

##The Unforeseeable Perils

Getting lost on Mount Everest can be due to several factors. One of the most common reasons is sudden shifts in weather creating blizzards and consequently, whiteouts that make visibility nearly impossible. Equally treacherous are the challenging terrains, altitude sickness, exhaustion or frostbite, all of which can disorient climbers.

##Instances of People Lost on Everest

The first confirmed case of a climber going missing on Everest traces back to the infamous 1924 British expedition where George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappeared while ascending. Their fate remained an enigma for seven decades, until Mallory’s body was discovered in 1999 by the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition. However, fate of Irvine remains a mystery.

More recent instances include climbers like Tsewang Paljor, who disappeared during a 1996 blizzard. Despite the visibility being reduced to zero and agonizing cold winds, the team decided to press on. As the group neared the summit, disaster struck and Paljor never returned. His body was later found and is, to this date, a haunting landmark for climbers, referred to as “Green Boots.”

##Rescue and Recovery

The crude reality of Everest is that if someone gets lost or stranded, there is a limited scope for rescue, primarily due to the hostile conditions. Helicopter rescues conducted above 8,000 meters are risky and technically challenging. Often, emergency support can only reliably reach as high as Everest Base Camp.

Despite the odds, miraculous rescues have occurred. In 1996, Tashi Tenzing, a Nepali-Indian Sherpa, masterminded an expedition to locate and save several lost climbers amidst one of the deadliest blizzards in Everest history. Additionally, in 2008, the British climber Ian Woodall launched an expedition to locate and give proper burials to lost climbers.

The use of technology has brought about significant changes in recent years. Devices like GPS trackers and satellite phones have enabled better tracking of climbers and timely interventions. Organizations like Global Rescue and Simrik Air have carried out commendable high-altitude rescues using advanced technology and extreme piloting skills.

However, the harsh reality is, hundreds of bodies still lie scattered on the slopes of Everest, making it a grim reminder of the mortal risk involved.


1. How many people have died on Mount Everest?

Since the first ascent attempt in 1921, it is estimated that over 300 people have died while climbing Mount Everest. However, the exact number can be hard to establish due to unreported deaths.

2. Why is it difficult to locate and rescue lost climbers?

The extreme conditions make search and rescue operations nearly impossible. Temperatures can drop to -40 degrees Celsius with winds reaching hurricane speeds. Above 8000 meters, known as the ‘Death Zone’, the lack of oxygen can lead to severe health complications, making it extremely challenging for rescue teams to operate.

3. Can helicopters reach the top of Everest for rescue operations?

Technically, it is possible, but it’s risky and very challenging. The thin air at such high altitudes offers little lift for helicopters. The highest recorded helicopter rescue was at about 7,000 meters.

4. What happens to the bodies on Mount Everest?

The bodies, most of them perfectly preserved in the freezing temperatures, tend to stay where they fall. Retrieving them is hazardous and some have been designated as landmarks.

5. Has modern technology aided in locating lost climbers?

Absolutely, modern technology such as GPS trackers, satellite phones, and drones have greatly aided in tracking climbers and in executing rescue efforts. However, the prevailing weather conditions and terrain can still pose significant challenges.


Mount Everest continues to both invite and intimidate climbers from all over the world. A climber getting lost, whether due to unforeseen weather changes or other reasons, is an unnerving eventuality. While advancements in technology have improved rescue efforts significantly, the best combat against these odds remains proper preparedness, careful decision-making, and respecting the might of nature.