What Happens to Climbers who Die on Mount Everest?
Mount Everest, standing majestically at an earth-shattering height of 8,848 meters, is not only the highest peak in the world but also the ultimate calling for mountaineering enthusiasts. These adrenaline junkies regard the expedition to the summit of Mount Everest as the crowning glory of their mountaineering achievements.
However, the journey to the roof of the world is fraught with perils, and unfortunately, some climbers pay with their lives. For those who succumb to the harsh conditions of Everest, one question remains – what happens to climbers who die on Mount Everest?
The Tragic Reality
The grim fact is, more than 300 people have lost their lives on Everest since the first ascent attempt in 1922. Avalanches, falls, exposure to the severe cold, and health conditions associated with high altitude are the leading causes of death.
Recovering bodies from the mountain is a significant challenge due to the dangerous and inhospitable conditions. Dead bodies on Everest are usually left as they are, earning the mountain an unsettling epithet – “The World’s Highest Graveyard.”
The Difficult Task of Body Recovery
Body recovery on Everest is risky, time-consuming, and expensive. The inhospitable conditions, steep slopes, and thin air, which can have severe effects on the human body, make the retrieval operations dangerous for the rescue teams.
Because of the risks involved, it is not uncommon for the deceased climbers’ bodies to remain on the mountain. Over time, some corpses have even served as landmarks for other climbers.
Burial Customs and Respect for the Deceased
Everest is not only a mountaineer’s paradise but is also sacred to the Sherpas and the Tibetans who live in the region. They traditionally believe the mountain, which they call Chomolungma, is the dwelling place of God. As per their customs, the deceased are respected by being left untouched.
More often than not, climbers who die on Everest are covered with a cairn, a stack of rocks, or are moved to remote locations. Any necessary actions are carried out with great respect for the deceased, within the limits of the challenging environment.
Identity and Memorialization
Rescue teams or other climbers, who come across a dead body on Everest, often take the difficult task of retrieving personal identification. This allows them to inform families and loved ones of the missing climbers. In some instances, the families arrange for memorial plaques placed at the Base Camp or erect monuments in their home countries.
FAQs About Climbers who Die on Mount Everest
1. Why don’t they remove the bodies from Mount Everest?
Removing bodies from Mount Everest is an arduous and dangerous task due to the extreme weather conditions, high altitudes, and harsh terrains. Also, it is very expensive, so unless families of the deceased can afford the high costs, the bodies are typically left on the mountain.
2. Can you see dead bodies on Mount Everest?
Yes, unfortunately, due to the difficult retrieval process, many bodies remain on the mountain, becoming part of the landscape. Some, over time, have even served as landmarks or way-points for climbers.
3. How do families get closure if the bodies are left on Mount Everest?
While it is an emotionally challenging situation, families usually get closure through the identification of personal belongings recovered from the location. Additionally, they might set up memorial plaques or monuments in their homeland in memory of their loved ones.
4. What causes most deaths on Mount Everest?
The main causes of death on Mount Everest are high-altitude sickness, exposure to extreme cold, avalanches, and falls. Unfortunately, even the fittest and well-prepared climbers can fall prey to these unpredictable elements.
5. How do climbers pay respect to the deceased on Mount Everest?
Respecting the deceased on Everest, climbers often cover bodies with stones or move them to remote and less-frequented locations. They carry these tasks out quietly, ensuring they cause no offense or disturbance to the other expedition members.
In conclusion, the tragic reality that climbers who die on Everest are usually left behind is a grim reminder of the danger and unpredictability of the mountain’s call. Yet, Everest continues to beckon climbers from around the world, symbolizing an enduring testament to the indomitable human spirit challenging nature’s extremes.