KATHMANDU: Two more Indian climbers have died on Mount Everest due to hours-long 'traffic jam', taking the toll to 8 of the Indian mountaineers who perished in their expedition to the world's highest peak during this season.
Nihal Bagwan (27) and Kalpana Das (49) died along with two other climbers above the 8,848-meter Mount Everest while descending the summit, the expedition organisers said. 'Traffic jam' occurs on Mount Everest when many climbers vie for the summit at the same time, and can be especially dangerous above 8,000 metres known as the 'death zone'.
Bagwan who is from Maharashtra breathed his last at Camp IV on Mount Everest on the Nepal side after he was rescued by a group of Sherpa climbers from the balcony area, said Babu Sherpa, Managing Director at Peak Promotion Pvt Ltd. "He died at Camp IV after he fell ill near the balcony area while returning from the summit of Mt Everest," Sherpa was quoted as saying by The Himalayan Times. Bagwan was the leader of a two-member expedition, he added.
Das, who was a member of the 'Three Women Expedition' breathed her last near the balcony area while descending from the summit point on Mount Everest on Wednesday, said Gyanendra Shrestha, a liaison officer at the Everest base camp. Das and American climber Donald Lynn Cash both died while descending the summit. "Their deaths were attributed primarily to a long queue of both ascending and descending climbers, forcing many to wait for hours at altitudes above 8,000 metres," The Kathmandu Post reported.
Austrian climber Ing Landgraf (Ernst), 65, died Wednesday and was part of an expedition run by Kobler & Partner from the Tibetan side, said Subash Shrestha, an official at Himalaya Vision Pvt Ltd.
With the latest fatalities, the deaths toll on the mountains of above 8,000 metres has risen to 16, according to expedition officials. "At least eight Indian climbers are among 16 persons killed on different mountains," the officials said.
Mumbai-based Anjali S Kulkarni died after she fell ill while coming down from the summit point on Wednesday. Kulkarni (54) died above 8,000 metres in the 'death zone', as she was descending after reaching the summit.
In a traffic jam, exhausted climbers are often forced to wait for several hours for their turn to ascend or descend on a single rope, increasing chances of exhaustion, frostbite or altitude sickness. Climbers could also run out of oxygen during the final phase of the ascent.
Army soldier Ravi Thakar (28) was found dead inside his tent at Camp IV on Mount Everest last week while Narayan Singh died at Camp IV on last Thursday when he was climbing down from the 8,485-meter Mount Makalu summit, world's fifth highest mountain.
Two Indian climbers from West Bengal - Biplab Baidya (48) and Kuntal Karar (46) - died in Nepal last week due to high altitude sickness near the summit of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world's third tallest peak.
Dipankar Ghos from Kolkata, who went missing from above Camp IV while returning from the Mount Makalu summit.
The body of Ghos (52) has finally been located after more than a week above 8,000-meter of Mt Makalu and is being brought to the base camp, Thaneshwor Guragain of Seven Summit Trek that organised the expedition told PTI. Ghos had gone on May 16.
Eight Indian climbers have died on different mountains during this season. Four died on Mount Everest, two each died on Kanchanjunga and Makalu. The dead bodies of the two climbers will be brought to the base camp on Saturday, he said.
More than 200 mountaineers ascended Mount Everest on Wednesday, setting a new record for the highest number of climbers to stand on top of the world in a single day. Nepal has issued a record 381 permits costing USD 11,000 each for the current spring climbing season.
It opened the climbing route to the world's highest peak on May 14, when a team of eight Sherpas successfully scaled the Mount Everest, becoming the first team to reach the summit. Hundreds of climbers flock each year to Nepal - home to several of the world's highest mountains, to scale Himalayan peaks during the spring season that begins around March and ends in June.
According to Nepal Department of Tourism, more than 4,400 people have scaled the summit since Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first conquered the mountain in 1953.