Everest/Lhotse 2016: May 21 – Summits, Frostbite and Deaths

Sunset and moonrise over Everest West ShoulderSunset and moonrise over Everest West Shoulder

The summits continued on Saturday morning, 21 May 2016 on both sides of Everest. However, there were two deaths on the Nepal side and reports of frostbite and multiple helicopter evacuations from Everest Base Camp and Camps 1 and 2 in the Western Cwm. The climbing conditions were reported as good with calm winds and normal temperatures for the summit.


On the Nepal side IMG put 28 climbers on the summit from their Hybrid team. They had four western guides, nine members and 15 Sherpas. Seven Summits Treks guided 5 female members from the Indian NCC Girls Expedition plus another four Indian members.

Sri Lanka celebrated one of their own, Jayanthi Kuru-Uthumpaala, summiting with IMG, the first for this country. 19 year old Australian Alyssa Azar is reported to have summited with Asian Trekking.

On the Tibet side, 7 Summits Club continued their success after having 9 summits yesterday, another 7 today including the married couple of Noel and Lynn Hannah. It is believed that they are the first married couple to summit from both sides together.


Many reports are coming in of climbers with frostbite that required ment at EverestER and in some cases helicopter evacuation. There are reports of 20 evacuations just from last night including as high as Camp 2. Contrary to press reports, there were no “long line” rescues. This is where the hangs from a long rope attached to the helicopter.

Also there were rescues of climbers, some on the Lhotse Face as told to me by Jeff Evans of Everest Air, a rescue operation on the Nepal side.  Jeff said they had six rescues themselves with six cases of frostbite, one ruptured Achilles tendon and a case of profound diarrhea. He noted that many of the frostbite cases appeared to be with inexperienced climbers.

There have been many illnesses and evacuations this season off Everest. While I don’t have the numbers, it feels like more than in previous “normal” seasons.


As has sadly happened too often, climbers died on their summit bids. Both were on the Nepal side last night and this morning. The Himalayan reported the details as communicated from expedition leaders and liaison officers.

4th Death: Dr Maria Elizabeth Strydom was reported suffering from snow blindness as she was on her summit bid. She was assisted to the South Col where, again this is what was reported, she died from a stroke. Note, there are differing reports that she had summited and was retuning to the Col when she developed difficulties.  She was climbing with Seven Summits Treks and was 36 years old and from Australia. source

3rd Death: Eric Arnold is reported to have died from altitude related problems, also at the South Col but after summiting. The 36 year old Dutch climber had attempted Everest four previous times and also had frostbite and problems with his eyes on his summit push. He with a sub team of Seven Summits Treks, guided by Arnold Costner.  source

There have now been four deaths on Everest this season. My condolences to all the families, friends and teammates.

More Summits to Come

Summit pushes will continue this weekend on the Nepal side with two more large teams from IMG, their Classic team lead only by Sherpa Guides. There are still a few smaller teams left to summit as well. On the Tibet side look for perhaps as many as 100 summits over the next few days.

Safe climbing to all.

Climb On!


Memories are Everything


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11 thoughts on “Everest/Lhotse 2016: May 21 – Summits, Frostbite and Deaths

  1. It’s pity. The Everest missing incident might have taken place on 20.5.16 night or 21.5.16 afternoon. Whatever, but it took 48+ hrs to reveal to the world of the missing climbers. Why ? If it happened to be near South summit then why didn’t their Sherpas informed it when they were still in Camp 4? Their travel agent I am sure knew the mishaps much earlier but kept it to themselves till camp 4 was evacuated and all moved to camp 2. The faithfulness of the Sherpas and the Agencies are to be under scanner. Can Loben Expedition the agency deny the fact?

    1. You are assuming communication is easy and reliable. Batteries go dead and the first priority is to stay alive or help, not communicate.

  2. Alan, since it wasn’t weather-related, does it seem odd to you that both climbers who died that day were from the same group? Do they give adequate training and support?

  3. Alan,
    I have heard it a lot this season. Could you give me a brief description of snow blindness? Thank you.

    1. Snow blindness is a painful, temporary loss of vision due to overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. The medical term for snow blindness is photokeratitis (“photo” = light; “keratitis” = inflammation of the cornea). Essentially, snow blindness is caused by a sunburned eye — or more specifically, a sunburned cornea.

    2. Lauren… On one of my climbs years ago, I had a slight case of snow blindness… its painful and you can’t see. No doubt as Alan noted, if you are wearing your goggles, this should not happen. Inexperience is usually the culprit. Some think when the sun is hidden by clouds, its safe to take off your goggles…. Not a good idea. Inexperience will either get you killed or the people around you. Vetting the climbers is the right thing to do

  4. Thanks for the update Alan. So sad to hear of the deaths of the guys chasing their dreams.Cheers zKate

  5. Hi Alan,
    for the record: Belgian Everest Climb summited yesterday 21/05 on everest; Sofie Lenaerts and Paul Hegge, they are doing fine at C2 and now decending to ABC,
    thx for all the info!
    stef Maginelle, everest summiteer 2007 and partner of Sofie

  6. Hi Alan,
    for the record: Belgian Everest Climb summited yesterday 21/05 on everest; Sofie Lenaerts and Paul Hegge, they are doing fine at C2 and now decending to ABC,
    thx for all the info!
    stef Maginelle, everest summiteer 2007 and partner of Sofie

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