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10 Mount Everest Summiteers Who Never Made It Back Alive

Many Mount Everest summiteers like Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay are renowned for successfully reaching the highest peak on earth. This is indeed a remarkable accomplishment that makes conquering Mount Everest the ultimate adventure for many other mountain lovers whose dream is to touch the clouds at 8,848 meters above sea level and came back down to the base safe and sound to tell the stories of their exhilarating experience.

Unfortunately, not all summiteers survive the trip as you have imagined. Their bodies could not stand the extreme weather conditions up on the mountain, so they died. Few of their bodies were recovered decades later, while others have found a perfect resting place on the mountain. Some of the unidentified corpses have become landmarks for other climbers. Below are the top ten sad stories of Mount Everest summiteers who never came down alive.[1]

Andrew Irvine

Mount Everest Summiteers - Andrew Irvine

Born on April 1902 in Birkenhead Cheshire, England, Andrew Comyn Sandy Irvine was a mountain climber and part of the British Everest Expedition of 1924. It developed mountain climbing interests while at Oxford. Later at Merton College, Irvin joined a mountaineering club to explore his mountain climbing skills. In 1923, the club had its first expedition to Spitsbergen. At Spitsbergen, Irvine met Noel Odell who invited him to join the British Expedition to Mount Everest. On the prospect that he could be the famous Mount Everest climber, he accepted the offer. In June, Andrew, together with the crew members, made two summit attempts but failed to reach the top. They opted to try one last time.

On 6th June, Andrew and his fellow mountain climber, George Mallory went for the last summit attempt. They ascended the mounted and were last seen at 12:50 pm as reported by Noell Odell. It is never known whether the duo reached the summit, but evidence collected suggested that Andre and his climbing partner might have died on their descent to the base camp. An ax thought to have belonged to Andrew was found in 1933 on the mountain lying at 8,460 meters above sea level suggesting that Andrew might have reached the summit. Andrew’s remains have never been found, including a Kodak camera that could help shed light on what exactly happened to them.[2]

Peter Boardman

Peter Boardman

Peter Boardman was a famous British mountain climber and a writer. He was born on 25th December 1950 in Cheshire England. After school, he was appointed the National Officer to the British Mountaineering Council. Peter climbed several mountains across Europe including Petit Dru in early 1970. He also hiked Mount Everest, South West Face in 1975 and made a successful ascent to the summit on 26th September. In 1981, Boardman, together with other British mountaineers, made a successful ascent to Kongur Mountain in China. Kongur stands at the height of 7,719 meters above sea level. In 1982, Boardman tried his impeccable mountain climbing skills on Mount Everest, North East Ridge. The British mountaineers made this expedition after the 1930’s Mount Everest expedition. Peter was equally curious and excited to explore the world’s largest mountain. Together with his crew, Peter arrived at the base camp in March 1982.

In April the expedition crew began their ascent and established their first ice caves at 6,850 meters above sea level. They went further in may and established their highest snow cave at 7,850 meters above sea level. On 15th may, Boardman and his partner reached the third snow cave, and this is where the duo made their last Radio Call. Boardman and Joe Tasker were last seen at 9.00 pm at the height of 8,250 meters. Boardman’s body was retrieved in 1995 from the mountain by a Japanese expedition. The talented mountain climbers and writers left not only a mountain climbing legacy but also they documented and captured every single event on their mountain expeditions in books. Boardman Authored The Shining Mountain and Sacred Summits.[3]

George Mallory

George Mallory

He was born on 18th June 1886 in Moberly, England. His first remarkable mountain climbing was when he hiked mount Velan in 1910. Across Europe, he climbed Mont Maudit and Mont Blanc. After conquering the European Mountains, Mallory tried his luck on the Asian mountains in the hope of getting the most celebrated feat, “Ascending the Everest and back.” In 1921, he took part in the British Expedition to Mount Everest. Together with the mountaineering group, they explored the lower peaks on Mount Everest, and Mallory became the founder of East Rongbuk Glacier which is a famous route used by the modern-day climbers on Mount Everest. In this first attempt, Mallory and his group hit the mark of 7,020 into Mount Everest. He went for the second attempt in 1922 and broke their first record by reaching a height of 8,225 meters above sea level and descended because of the extreme weather conditions at the top of the mountain.

He was part of the 1924 British Mount Everest Expedition. This time Mallory hoped to conquer the summit. However, things went south when He and Irvine started ascending from the advanced base camp that was located at a record height of 6,500 meters. He partnered with Andrew Irvine and began ascending. The duo was last seen by their expedition member, Noel Odell on 8th June. Mallory rested on the mountain for seventy-five years when his body was found and retrieved in 1999. No one knows whether Mallory reached the summit, but evidence suggests that Mallory together with Irvine could have reached the summit. His daughter gave an account that his dad was carrying his wife’s photograph that he wanted to place on top of the mountain. When Mallory was found, the photograph was missing.[4]

Hannelore Schmatz

Hannelore Schmatz

Hannelore was the most skilled mountaineer of all time. Hannelore was born on 16 February 1940 in Germany. Hannelore together with his husband aged 50 at that time, was part of the German Expedition to summit Mount Everest in 1979. The group broke the record and reached the summit. Hannelore’s husband became the first oldest man to summit Mount Everest successfully. They celebrated and began descending. The couple’s celebration about reaching the summit was cut short while on their way down to the base camp. Hannelore gave in to fatigue and couldn’t continue trekking down. The high altitude and the pressure on Mount Everest overpowered the skilled mountaineer.

Hannelore together with her American mountaineer Ray Genet set up a tent and opted to rest on the death zone as it is commonly known. Unfortunately, Ray Genet died due to fatigue and lack of enough oxygen. His body was swept away and covered under snow. Hannelore slept throughout the night and survived the snow. Unfortunately, she is thought to have fallen asleep and never woke up. The guide who was with her lost his toes and fingers to frostbite. Hannelore’s body remained on the mountain and would be seen by other daring mountaineers. An attempt by Nepalese police to recover her body in 1984 proved futile as they fell to their deaths from the mountain.[5][6]

David Sharp

David Sharp

David Sharp was a Mount Everest summiteer whose death sparked controversy around the world. Sharp was born on February 15, 1972, in Harpenden, London. Before his deadly summit on Mount Everest, Sharp had successfully climbed other high mountains including; Cho Oyu towers at the height of 8,200 meters above sea level, Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus and several others including two attempts on Mount Everest in 2003 and 2004. In 2006, Sharp opted to climb the mountain alone and not in a group. With an insufficient amount of oxygen to himself, Sharp took the deadliest journey with the hope of breaking the record of reaching the top of Mount Everest.

At 8,000 meters into the mountain, the oxygen is less, and the atmospheric pressure is low. Sharp’s body couldn’t bear the weather conditions. He became weak, and he did not have enough oxygen to support himself. He sought shelter under a rock and was exposed to severe frostbites. It is reported that other mountain climbers spotted Sharp at the mountain and others bypassed him as he was gasping for breath. This sparked controversy questioning the nature of the Mount Everest climbers. It is estimated that 30 to 40 climbers bypassed Sharp and offered no help to save his life.[7]

Babu Chiri

Babu Chiri

Babu Chiri was a Nepalese mountaineer who broke the world records of reaching the summit ten times in his life. He was born on June 22, 1965, in Taksindu, Nepal. He started climbing mountains at the age of sixteen. Chiri had no formal education, and mountains which fascinated his curious mind surrounded his village. His unusual mountain climbing activities started at age sixteen when he secured a job as a guide.

As a trekking porter, Chiri climbed mount Mera which stands at the height of 6,472 meters within record-breaking four hours. Chiri died on April 29, 2001, while attempting his eleventh summit on Mount Everest. Chiri fell into a crevasse while taking photographs. He had a dream of building schools in his Village. In his mountaineering career, Chiri broke two records. He stayed for twenty-one hours on the summit without enough oxygen. He also ascended on Mount Everest in 16 hours and 56 minutes.[8]

Rob Hall

Rob Hall

Rob Hall is another skilled and passionate mountain climber who climbed Mount Everest but never came down. He was born on January 14, 1961, as Robert Edwin Hall in New Zealand. He later found a mountaineering friend and they challenged themselves to summit highest peaks in every continent. The broke the record by completing the challenge in seven months. Upon realizing their dreams, Hall and his friend partnered and established an Adventure Consultants Company.

In 1996, Hall was a guide to 1996 Mount Everest Expedition after summiting the mountain three times successfully. The group made it to the top, but trouble began on their way down. A blizzard struck affecting the expedition group. Hall had offered to help a climber and instructed his group and other guides to descend. Hall died shortly after making a call to his wife. His body was found on 23rd May and remained in the mountain.[9]

Maurice Wilson

Maurice Wilson

born on April 21, 1898, in Bradford, England, Maurice is one of the mind-boggling Everest mountaineers in history. His reason for climbing Everest was quite outrageous. Joining the military at the age of 18, he fought during the First World War and left the military in 1919. Life proved difficult and Wilson developed mental illness. However, the disease came to an end in 1933 after what Wilson termed as miraculous healing after 35 days of prayer and fasting.

It is this faith that propelled Wilson to surmount Mount Everest. He believed that with the magical powers of prayer, he would achieve what Irvine and Mallory could not. His plan involved crashlanding unto Mount Everest. He went on and took aviation classes, got his license and activated his plan. He flew his newly acquired plane to India alone but was barred by authority from flying the plane into the mountain. Undeterred, Wilson set foot to Mount Everest on 23rd May 1934 and climbed his life to death. His body was found in 1935 and was buried on the Mountain.[10]

Jozef Psotka

Jozef Psotka

Born on February 12, 1934, in Slovakia, Jozef Psotka was a mountain climber from Slovak. The record has it that Jozef had a passion for climbing mountains and had successfully climbed mount Matterhorn and Mount Kanchenjunga and many other mountains. On October 15, 1984, Jozef made his successful summit to Mount Everest and became the first oldest Mount Everest summiteer without oxygen. He was 50 years at that time. Jozef on his descend fell to his death.[11]

Dimitar Ilievski-Murato

Dimitar Ilievski-Murato

He is another courageous mountain climber who made it to Everest’s summit but never came back alive. Murato was a Macedonian who represented Yugoslavia and was part of the Yugoslavia expedition team. The expedition team reached the summit and put two flags on top of the mountain representing Yugoslavia and Macedonia. Murato holds the 264th position as Mount Everest summiteer. He died on May 10, 1989, while descending from the mountain.[12]

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