The 2012 Mt. Everest death toll has reached six, after four more climbers were first announced as missing, then deceased, after other climbers were able to see bodies during their descents. An additional individual is missing and presumed dead.
The four victims reached the summit of Everest this weekend, before beginning their journey back down the southern slope toward high camp. The area between high camp and the summit is often referred to as the Death Zone–where the lack of oxygen becomes so intense that decision making and mental focus is often lost to the formidable foe of altitude. According to Sherpa Ang Tshering, who was guiding the trek, German doctor, Eberhard Schaaf, died of altitude sickness–the 61 year old doctor was part of an ecological clean-up effort, trying to remove trash and other equipment left behind on the mountain.
Other victims included a Korean man, Song Wong-bin, who reportedly collapsed and fell off a cliff. A Nepali-born, Canadian woman, Shriya Shah and Chinese man, Wen Ryi Ha.
Everest has become an object of desire, and an obsession to many amateur climbers and explorers who talk themselves into believing that such a task is easier than it actually is. There really isn’t anything comparable in terms of deprivation combined with physical demands that are required of the body.
Since Everest became a popular destination for climbers, nearly 240 individuals have perished attempting to reach the summit, or during their subsequent descent. Sherpas attempt to retrieve the bodies of the fallen, yet the extreme circumstances don’t always allow for such recovery efforts.