Before starting the story, we just want to mention a fact:
Human beings simply aren’t built to function at the cruising altitude of a 747.
When you climb the world’s highest mountain range, it is at your own risk. In 1996, the mountain experienced a deadly day when eight climbers tragically lost their lives. Mountaineering accidents happen more often than you think and there are almost two hundred bodies lying frozen on the mountain. People have had to leave their friends bodies behind and move on.
Does that sound selfish to you?
The reality is that there is very little you can do. The air above 26,000 feet (known as the Death Zone) is so thin that you are almost dying every second.
In those circumstances, mountaineers get confused and every little movement requires a great deal of effort.
Scott Fischer was a highly experienced mountain guide and his body is one of the 200 lying on the range. It is very difficult for climbers to survive; hence, it is almost impossible to bring back the bodies of the dead. New climbers are made aware of the difficulties lying ahead by the landmarks, which are actually the bodies of the dead that are preserved by the extreme cold. Their bodies are frozen and lying intact in the same position they died.
These are some stories of the climbers whose bodies are still lying over the range, making it an ‘open grave’.
Francys Arsentiev and Sergei
Francys Arsentiev become the first American woman to reach the summit without supplementary oxygen on May 22, 1998. She got separated from her husband Sergei. On May 23, Sergei went back from the camp in search of his wife and came across a team of Uzbek climbers who left their own summit in an attempt to help Francys down, but they ran short of oxygen and gave up.
O’Dowd, one of the team members, said that Francys was alive as she murmured, “Don’t leave me,” to O’Dowd. But she was immobile and slipping in and out of consciousness, and was already beyond rescuing. They spent nearly an hour in minus 30 degree temperature but they had to give up soon to save themselves. Later, they found that Sergei fell to his death in search of his wife.
In her book ‘Just for the Love of It’, O’Dowd writes:
“I had never encountered anything like this. I had passed bodies, I had had friends not come back, but I had never watched anyone die. Nor had I had to decide to leave them.”
Francys’ body lay right next to the main North Col route for years, passed by hundreds of climbers going to and from the summit.
Francys’s body was then covered with an American flag and a note from her family was placed in her hand.
In 2007, Woodall another member of that team, returned with the express intention of moving Francys’ body out of sight, covering it with an American flag and placing a note from her family on the corpse.
Just Like Francys and Sergei, David Sharp was climbing Everest without a support team and without the aid of bottled oxygen. It is believed that he made it to the summit on May 14, 2006, but on his way down, fatigued and confused, he stopped and sat down in what, since 1996, has been known as ‘Green Boots cave’.
The ‘Green Boots’ body’ has become a landmark, seen by every climber attempting the North East Ridge route to the summit.
‘Green Boots’ is the most famous body lying on Mount Everest. It is believed to be the body of Tsewang Paljor who pressed upon going further along with two other team members; none of them came back.
Green Boots is supposed to be his body.
George Leigh Mallory was a famous mountaineer of his time. His body was discovered nearly 75 years after his death.
His team was just a few hundred vertical feet short of the summit and apparently climbing well when they were last sighted.
But till date, nobody is sure whether they made it to the summit or not. Hence, this remains one of mountaineering’s greatest mysteries.
The 1924 British Everest Expedition. Back row, left to right: Andrew Irvine, George Mallory, Edward Norton, Noel Odell, and John Macdonald.
There are two evidences that they might have made it to the summit. The search team found snow goggles in Mallory’s pocket – had he taken them off to see better because the sun had gone down? That would imply it was late when he fell, suggesting that they’d summited and were making their way back down.
Andrew Irvine (left) and George Mallory (right) who may have been the first men to set foot on the summit of Everest.
He had also promised his wife Ruth to leave her photograph on the top. And the search team did not find any photo in the documents that were near his mummified body. The search team’s main hope was to find the camera Mallory carried with him. It was no where to be found. Check out the video of the mission to find Mallory’s body:
Many like Mallory go on the mission to conquer the mountain and never come back but this cycle goes on without discouraging others.