Everest 2017: South Col Dead Body Report was Wrong

Everest South Col 2003

The same people that reported 4 bodies – 2 Sherpas, 1 foreign woman and 1 foreign male – were found at the South Col now say they got it all wrong.

I spoke live with both key sources last night.

Managing Director at Seven Summit Treks, Mingma Sherpawho provided the the information to Himalayan Times reporter Rajan Pokhrel who wrote the story. Both now say it was a mistake and were no 4 new bodies.

I also confirmed with another Nepali operator Navin Trital plus long time Everest climber and guide, Willie Benegas of Benegas Brothers contacted me from the South Col and said no new bodies. He said he checked every tent.

Too Many Bodies?

The best explanation is that the Seven Summits Treks Sherpas somehow “confused” seeing one body and thinking it was four. Assuming good intentions here, perhaps an analogy with the “fog of war” is apt.

the six Sherpas were were sent to the South Col to retrieve the body of  Slovak climber Vladimir Strba who died between Balcony and South Col while climbing as independent with no Os. That retrieval was successful.

Seven Summits Treks was also involved in retrieving body of West Bengal climber Gautam Ghosh from the South Col.

Another body retrieval will soon start for Indian climber, Ravi Kumar, 27, who reportedly died from a fall near the Balcony after summiting. He became separated from his guide from Arun Treks.

First Report

The original article on finding four bodies at the South Col reported:

At least four climbers including a woman mountaineer were found dead inside their tent at a high altitude camp on Mt Everest taking the death toll on the world’s highest mountain in the spring climbing season to at least nine in Nepal side, the base camp officials have confirmed.

Sherpa climbers from Seven Summit Treks who were there to recover the body of a Slovak mountaineer spotted four more dead bodies inside a tent, Managing Director at Seven Summit Treks Mingma Sherpa quoted the rescuers as saying over the phone from the incident site. Though the precise details of the incident are not available yet, the cause of death could be suffocation inside the tent, the rescuers reported.

Multiple sources at the base camp also confirmed that four persons belonging to a new trekking company have gone out of contact since Sunday after they were last seen near the Balcony area. “We are trying to verify all shreds of evidence before naming the victims,” a liaison officer at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation said.

There were four deaths over this past weekend:

  • Vladimir Strba, 50 Slovakia, died between Balcony and South Col on south side, climbing as independent with no Os
  • Francesco Enrico Marchetti, 54 Australia, at 8300m after summit from Tibet with Thamserku Treks and Expeditions
  • Ravi Kumar, 27, from fall on Nepal side near Balcony after summit, separated from his guide from Arun Treks
  • Roland Yearwood, 50 from USA Alabama climbing with SummitClimb

Good News

While all this has created worldwide headlines, I am grateful there are no new deaths to report in addition to the current six.

The other good news is that the mistaken report has generated a conversation about the experience of climbers and the qualification of guides. And that is a good subject to further explore.

Summits Continue

25 May was another good day on Everest’s Nepal side with over 40 new summits including the Benegas Brothers and International Mountain Guides. Both reported superb weather conditions.

On the Tibet side, several climbers seeking to summit without supplemental oxygen have moved to the higher camps. Heavy snow is now predicted for Saturday, so best if they can get up and down before then.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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14 thoughts on “Everest 2017: South Col Dead Body Report was Wrong

  1. Alan, there will be always confusion during expedition to such extreme, Just wondered how it could when I read the 4-body found in a tent and rumors as well. All the way I realize that sherpas are utterly professionals.

  2. All of the people on Sunday May 21 seem to have been found who died that day….do you have any knowledge of Dr Roland Yearwood and whether he was brought down or will be? I now follow your blog faithfully it is fantastic….and I am a loyal patient of Dr Yearwood and am so proud of his accomplishments….thank you!

    1. I’m sorry for your loss John, sounds like Dr. Yearwood was special. I am not aware of any body retrieval actives around him as this is unique to each individual and not a policy. In some cases the climber will tell the guide what they prefer in cases like this – to have the body retrieved or left on the mountain. Also the family often makes the final decision.

      1. Thank you so much…you do an amazing job and I will be donating to your cause as my mother also had Alzheimer’s .

  3. Saray did not plant the South African flag on Mt Everest this time. The dream to give hope to the African child however remains.

    She experienced difficulties when she climbed from the South Col (Camp 4) to the summit and Asian Trekking Pvt. Ltd. immediately started the process to bring her down the mountain. They delivered excellent service.

    She was evacuated per helicopter earlier this morning to the hospital in Kathmandu where she is being treated for health issues due to exposure.

    The 7 Summits with a Purpose Team would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the following people:

    Pasang Rita Sherpa , Tshering Tashi , Dawa Bhutia and Nawang Tenzing (her Sherpa) brought her from below balcony area to the South Col.
    Nawang Tenzing , Tenzing Dorji , Lhakpa Nuru , Pemba Tshering , Nima Nuru and Kawang Tamang brought her down from the South Col to Camp 2.

    Dr Nima Namgyal Sherpa and Nanga Dorji coordinated effort from Everest Base Camp. Dawa Steven Sherpa arranged the medical evacuation from Kathmandu.

    It did not happen this time round, but the cause to bring the gift of reading to children, continues

    Thank you for your unwavering support during the expedition.

  4. Alan, any info on James Broome? He was climbing without O’s and posting regularly up to the time he left for the higher camps. Nothing since. I was following him on his blog, then nothing. Thanks again for your stellar reporting on so many things. You have certainly used your recovery time for a wonderful purpose keeping us mountain junkies thoroughly informed on the news from Everest, Just excellent and riveting writing. Looking forward to next year and you back on the hill making news as well as covering it! Best wishes in every way!

  5. Glad it was wrong, BUT, as you said, Alan, “The other good news is that the mistaken report has generated a conversation about the experience of climbers and the qualification of guides. And that is a good subject to further explore”. The conversation has been extensive and lively and will hopefully continue in a constructive vein (and not finger-pointing at the inaccurate report).

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