Everest/Lhotse 2016: Arnold Coster Statement on Climber’s Deaths

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

I am passing this along from Arnold Coster, owner of Arnold Coster Expeditions. This past weekend two climbers on his team died while on their summit climbs of Everest. In Arnold’s view there has been a lot of misinformation published so he wanted to set the record straight as he was there and heavily involved.

I also understand that Dr. Marisa Strydom family learned of her death thru the Internet. Apparently as the rescue efforts were underway, communications over publically available radio channels were monitored and then reported to the press who published the story before authorities were able to contact the family. In addition her name has been reported as Maria but she also went by Marisa according to friends.

Tragedy struck our team

This is an official statement from the expedition leader Arnold Coster about the events that happened between 19 and 22 May. While we were still rescuing our team members Rob down other people unfortunately already posted news about these events before we had a chance to descend down to Camp 2 safely and inform family members ourselves. Rob got evacuated from Base Camp on 22 May. This is a brief description of what happened.

On 20 May our apparently perfect looking summit push turned into disaster. On 19 May the whole team left the South Col and everybody summited the next day, except Marisa who decided to turn around just above the the South Summit at 8am in the morning, due to fatigue.  All went according to plan, but on the descent two of our members got sick, which resulted in the loss in two off our friends Eric & Marisa.  Our team members & staff are totally beaten by our rescue attempts, but arrived back in Base Camp at 23 May.

Eric summited Mount Everest on 20 May 8am and fulfilled his childhood dream. During the ascent he was doing well, but after the South Summit he was struggling a bit. Descending from the summit he became slower and slower and it became clear that something was wrong. His Sherpa who was climbing with him from the beginning requested to send an additional Sherpa up with more supplementary Oxygen to help him down. After this we managed to bring him down to the South Col in a reasonable time; he looked beaten, but mentally fine. We brought him to his tent, gave him more Oxygen, lots off drinks and food and it looked like he was recovering. Unexpectedly Eric passed away that evening in his tent accompanied by a Member and Sherpa in his tent.

Marisa was doing well until the “Balcony”, but became very slow after this and decided to turn around on the South Summit at 8am in the morning. Normally this would give her enough time to descent safely, but her condition deteriorated rapidly. Halfway between the South Summit and Balcony she was hardly able to move and became very confused. Her Husband and several Sherpa’s struggled all night to bring her down and miraculously she made it back to the South Col 2am that night, after spending 31 hours above the camp. We managed to stabilize her that night with Medicine & Oxygen and Marisa was able to walk out off the tent herself the next morning. Helicopter rescue is only possible from Camp 3, so we continued our descent the next morning. Marisa was able to walk herself, but 2 hours out off camp she collapsed on the “Geneva Spur”. Her Husband tried to retrieve her, but this was not possible anymore. Rob was evacuated by helicopter from Camp 2 the next day and is in Kathmandu now.

At the moment we are assembling a rescue team to try to retrieve the bodies.

These tragic events numbed the whole team and our thoughts are with their family and friends. May they rest in peace.

Arnold Coster, expedition leader

In addition another climber lost his life after suffering altitude related illness according to the Himalayan. This is the 5th death thus far in 2016.

Reports are coming in about 11:00 am on Monday May 23 of a urgent rescue underway at Camp 3 using a helicopter. This is near the operating ceiling of 23,000 feet.

International Mountain Guides said they put 7 members and 11 Sherpas on the sumt from Nepal this morning in good weather condition.

Again, my condolences to all the families, friends and teammates of the d.

Climb On!


Memories are Everything

Share this post:

5 thoughts on “Everest/Lhotse 2016: Arnold Coster Statement on Climber’s Deaths

  1. Thank you for your post. Marisa told me she stood next to you when HAPE struck. I hope you’re better now.
    There were a lot of satellite phones available. Marisa had Global rescue insurance, activated by n button on her Delorme Inreach sat phone. This was never activated. I also contacted Global rescue and they confirmed that no rescue was requested for Marisa .
    When Marisa fell ill, -Arnold stated ” She turned around” As everyone of the company summited, who cared for Marisa and checked her for altitude sickness . Still no word to us from Arnold Coster or any of his companies.
    Much more happened, but I think as Arnold made this statement, these issues need to be addressed too
    Also, why didn’t they ever stay at camp 3 for acclimatisation . May this be the reason two persisted and more of the seven got altitude sickness.
    Apologies for burdening you, but the truth must come out
    Thank you and greetings.
    Maritha Strydom

    1. Sorry for your loss Maritha, but rescues don’t work as you imagine in that altitude. Helicopters can’t land that high and only people with weeks of acclimatisation can barely walk at that altitude. So no, you can’t just call a rescue company to rescue one from South Col 🙁

      1. While I do understand that the B3 has sumitted Everest in 2005, that was a stripped down version. But there is another alternative – the long line rescue. What is the maximum altitude at which the long line has been used?
        Is it feasible at camp 4?

        1. C3 ~23K was the highest long line rescue in 2013. The Everest summit ‘landing’ was more of a demo/stunt than real-world application. This year, 2016, they went as high as C2 ~21K on a regular basis but even then were stripped of all seats (other than pilots) and flew with minimal fuel.

Comments are closed.