22 Apr 2019

If You’re Going to Die on Everest…

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You want to choose a strategic position on the route to the top, and you want to be wearing something distinctive.

The Epoch Times:

Crumpled near a rocky alcove (Green Boots’s Cave), jacket pulled up over his face as if still shielding from the wind, Green Boots serves as a popular marker for climbers ascending into the “Death Zone,” on their way to the summit. There are around 200 such body “guideposts” on Everest, becoming indicators of altitude more than anything else. As time passes, they literally freeze to the mountain and become hard to remove.

At heights where even taking a few steps takes great strength, using a pickaxe to free a body seems crazy, let alone hauling one back down.

It is believed that his real name is Tsewang Paljor. At one time, Paljor was an Indo-Tibetan border policeman from a small village called Sakti. He had summitted several other mountains in his career. He hoped to bring benefits to his family by summitting Everest as well, his mother told BBC after his death.

Accounts tell of how Paljor and two of his comrades, Tsewang Smanla and Dorje Morup, had either ignored or failed to see the signal from deputy team leader Harbhajan Singh to turn back when they were nearing the summit. Singh had sensed impending danger. Yet his colleagues pressed on.

One of the fatal mistakes that sometimes occurs in the Death Zone (near the summit, above 8,000 meters) is a euphoric “summit fever” that possesses some climbers. They are overcome by a desire to reach the top and disregard vital concerns for safety. This, according to Singh, seems to be what happened to his fellow climbers on that fateful day. Singh had turned back to camp, while they had plowed on. He received a radio call from them announcing that they had reached the summit, and there was momentary celebration. But the victory was short-lived. A blizzard hit during their descent, and they never returned.

For some 20 years, Green Boots remained where he had fallen. Ambitious climbers came to recognize his frozen form, his boots in particular, as a landmark, having to literally step over his legs along their push to the summit.

In 2014, Green Boots’s body was respectfully shoveled up and deposited on the lee-side of the mountain, perhaps out of respect. While retrieving a body is possible for the mountain Sherpas, it is both costly and dangerous. Over the years, the problem of visitors to Everest morbidly encountering bodies has led to some efforts to deal with the issue. Fallen mountaineers have traditionally been “committed” to the mountain, meaning their bodies were ceremoniously dropped into crevasses, pushed down steep slopes, or perhaps placed under a rock.

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