‘Summit fever’ takes a toll on three more Indians

Expedition agencies say climbers become exhausted and dehydrated while waiting in the queue on Mt. Everest

Three Indians have died on Mt. Everest this week, as crowds of climbers added to the dangers of efforts to scale the world’s highest peak.

Nihal Bagwan, a 27-year old from Pune, became the latest victim of an unprecedented rush on the Everest this season. Bagwan, part of a two-member expedition, reportedly died at Camp-IV on Everest on Thursday after being rescued from Balcony by four Sherpas.

“He had collapsed of exhaustion after waiting in line for almost 12 hours. The thing is, when you are constantly climbing, your body stays warm and there is less chance of frostbite. But when you are simply waiting, it becomes very dangerous because there is no motion and you also consume more oxygen,” said Neelanjan Patra from Dream Wanderlust, a trekking community.

The hours-long ‘traffic jam’ forced many climbers to wait for their turn to go down through a narrow and steep passage right below the peak, according to Mira Acharya, head of the mountaineering department of the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

Kalpana Dash from Odisha passed away on Thursday near Balcony during her summit attempt. Earlier this week, Anjali Kulkarni from Mumbai, who was accompanied by her husband Sharad Kulkarni, failed to make it back from the top and died near Camp-IV. The 54-year-old was part of a six-member expedition.

Expedition agencies said exhaustion and dehydration were the main reasons behind the fatalities this season. The remains of Ravi Thakar, who breathed his last at Camp-IV on his descent form the summit last week, have been brought down from the mountain.

Meanwhile, climber Hitendra Mahajan, a resident of Nashik, has been rescued from the South summit. Piyali Basak, another trekker, was heli-rescued while descending to Camp-II and is still under treatment at the camp.

Approximately 350 climbers are reported to be approaching the summit from both Nepal and Tibet sides, leading to a long queue at the peak. “It is called Summit Fever and is most common from Camp-IV onwards because the summit is visible and people feel they can reach the top easily. They also think the climb down will be easier and everyone wants to be an Everester. That’s why most fatalities happen on Camp-IV and beyond,” Mr. Patra explained.

Attempts to scale Mt. Everest, Mt. Makalu and Mt. Kanchenjunga this season has also led to a few more deaths of Indians and climbers from other countries. Kuntal Karar and Biplab Baidya died on the Kanchenjunga. Climbers Dipankar Ghosh and Narayan Singh went missing on Mt. Makalu a week ago and their remains were recovered on Friday.

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