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Death on Everest: The Many Ways to Die on the Mountain and the Corpses' Gruesome Fate

Sep 15, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
Aerial View Of Mount Everest
EVEREST HIMALAYAN RANGE, NEPAL - MAY 18: Mount Everest is shown at approximately 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) May 18, 2003 in Nepal. The world's tallest mountain is (back-center) surrounded by Nuptse (R) 8848m and Lhotse, 8576m (L). A record 1,000 climbers plan assaults on the summit as mountaineers celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the conquest of Everest on May 29.
(Photo : Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Everest, the highest mountain in the planet, is on every adventurer's bucket list. However, the elusive summit isn't just characterized by the triumph of successful climbers, but also by the dead bodies scattered throughout by the ones who lost their lives chasing the dream.

Dying on Everest

The brutal conditions mean there are a number of ways to die on Everest; sudden avalanches, fatal altitude sickness, bad weather and faulty equipment are only some of the most common causes of death.

Still, the greatest threat to the lives of the climbers is one that seems simple: overcrowding, according to a report from Chicago Tribune. Prolonged exposure to the mountain's death zone is now very common because of the logjam that is created as more climbers attempt to summit all at the same time.

"Everest is not real climbing," Jon Krakauer, who summitted in 1996 and lost teammates to the famous tragedy, said in Los Angeles Times. He suffered from depression from the experience. "It's rich people climbing. It's a trophy on the wall, and then they're done. When I say I wish I'd never gone, I really mean it."

The Fate of the Dead

There are around 200 bodies still littered in Mount Everest, according to a report from Mpora. Very few of the dead are even attempted to be brought back because of the danger it will put on the climbers who are still trying. At that altitude, every movement requires utmost concentration and energy, and lugging down a dead body multiplies the challenges tenfold.

So the bodies are left preserved where they perished; to serve not just as the ultimate warning of the mountain's deadly wrath, but as landmarks. Among the most significant bodies that climbers can still see on Everest are "Green Boots", believed to be Tsewang Paljor from the Indian team of the 1996 disaster; Francys Arsentiev, the first American woman to climb Everest without supplemental oxygen in 1998; David Sharpe, who many climbers passed in 2006 without realizing he was in trouble; and the most famous mountaineer George Mallory, whose successful summit remains one of the biggest mystery of the climbing circuit.

It was also Mallory who uttered the famous response to why he wants to climb Everest, expressing many climbers' unspeakable desire through the years despite the dangers: "Because it's there."

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