LONDON, England / The Guardian / World News / Mount Everest / May 10, 2011
Ex-Nepal foreign minister dies in Mount Everest climb
Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay, 82, dies on Mount Everest while attempting to become oldest person to climb mountain
Jason Burke in Delhi and Anil Giri in Kathmandu
Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay had been attempting to
become the oldest person to climb Mount Everest.
Photograph: Rawjendra K C/AFP/Getty Images
An 82-year-old former Nepalese foreign minister has died on the slopes of Everest while attempting to become the oldest person to climb the world's highest mountain. Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay was descending from a camp on the lower slopes of the 8,850m (29,035ft) peak when he collapsed on Monday evening.
The death – the first of this year's climbing season – is likely fuel charges that there is insufficient regulation of candidates attempting the ascent.
Uphadyay was climbing with a non-profit-making expedition organised by a campaign group for the rights of the elderly, but in recent years many top climbers have claimed that expeditions are accepting unsuitable members, particularly if they are high-profile, sufficiently wealthy or both.
Upadhyay was trying to break the record set by a Nepalese climber who scaled Everest at the age of 76.
The former diplomat's climbing companions gave him water and oxygen but were unable to save him. It is believed he died of acute altitude sickness, which is difficult to treat and is a common cause of death among mountainclimbers.
He was not an experienced mountaineer, according to reports in Kathmandu. A 6,050m peak that he had climbed in preparation is considered an easy "trekking" summit which is not technically demanding nor particularly high relative to the major mountains of the region.
Upadhyay was also reported to have completed several multi-day high altitude treks. According to Wangchu Sherpa, an official from the Nepal Mountaineering Association in Kathmandu, Upadhyay had arrived at the Everest base camp in mid-April and had been waiting for good weather to start acclimatising for his ascent.
"A doctor provided by a local trekking agencies did a thorough health check-up," said Wangchu. "He was declared fit and fine."
The exact circumstances of Uphadhyay's death are unclear but it is understood the climber had developed breathing problems after climbing through the broken and crevassed glacier above base camp to reach "camp 1" at the height of 5,700m.
Climbers on the most-used route via the South Col usually stop at least four camps on their way up the mountain. "Upadhyay was returning to the base camp when he suddenly fell ill and passed away," Tilak Pandey, a government liaison officer at base camp, told the Guardian by satellite phone.
Though some drugs can ease symptoms, descent to lower altitudes is the only sure treatment for altitude sickness. May is considered the best time to climb Everest and, this year 26 expeditions consisting of 251 climbers are scheduled to attempt its ascent. Summit attempts are usually launched towards the end of the month.
Currently, mountaineers are making repeated ascents of the lower slopes of the mountain to acclimatise themselves. Uphadhyay was a member of a team organised by a local private non-profit making association. He lived in Kathmandu.
According to Pandey, the liaison officer, Upadhyay's body was brought into base camp below the vast Khumbu glacier on Monday morning to be flown to Kathmandu.
"Now weather is good here," Pandey told the Guardian by satellite telephone. Upadhyay served as Nepal's foreign minister from 1986-90 and was the country's representative to the UN from 1972-78.
"I am proud of being a part of such a noble event to turn it in to a grand success," Uphadhya had said before embarking on Everest. More than 3,000 climbers have scaled Everest since it was first climbed by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Sherpa in 1953. According to Nepal's ministry of tourism and civil aviation, 704 climbing permits have been issued to 83 expeditions for dozens of different peaks in the Himalayas in the 2011 climbing season.
The largest number of applications to climb Everest is from the US followed by India, the UK, Japan and Australia. The permits will bring in more than £2.25m in mountaineering royalties for the poverty-hit nation. The fee for climbing the world's highest peak ranges from £17,000 to £48,000 per expedition, depending on the number of members and the route. So far this year, the Nepalese government has collected fees totalling £1.5m for Everest. There are also long-standing concerns about the environmental damage caused by large numbers of climbers, their support teams and the waste they leave.ends
By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA (Associated Press)
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) – An 82-year-old former Nepalese foreign minister has died on the slopes of Mount Everest while attempting to become the oldest person to climb the world's highest mountain, an official said said on Tuesday.
Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay was returning from the first camp set on the slopes of Everest back down to the base camp when he collapsed on Monday evening, Mountaineering Department official Tilak Pandey told Tthe Associated Press by telephone. He was going back to the base camp to get medical attention because he was not feeling well, according to a mountaineering department official.
Upadhyay's climbing companions gave him somewater and oxygen after he collapsed on the icy trails, but he died, likelymost probably from high-altitude sickness, a common cause of death among mountain climbers, Pandey said.
His body was expected to be airlifted to the capital, Kathmandu, later on Tuesday.
Upadhyay served as Nepal's foreign minister from 1986-90 and was the country's representative to the United Nations from 1972-78.
He was trying to break the record set by a Nepalese climber who scaled the 8,850m (29,035ft)-foot (8,850-meter) peak at the age of 76.
Several dozen climbers are currently at Everest's base camp hoping to scale the peak this month. May is considered the best time to climb Everest because the weather usually becomes favorable for a few days.
© Guardian News and Media Limited 2011