Rescuer Describes Horror on Everest 'Death Zone'

Deadly congestion claimed at least four lives

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted May 23, 2012 9:16 AM CDT

(Newser) – Mount Everest climbers, "disoriented, frostbitten, sick, and totally exhausted," struggled against 80mph winds on congested trails last weekend, writes friend Chris Tomer on the blog of American adventurer Jon Kedrowski, who helped to rescue four climbers in the mountain's "death zone." "A two-hour wait at one of the choke-points near the summit left climbers caught in these 80mph winds," Tomer writes. "Jon was ascending while other climbers from the previous day who had summited were descending through the choke-point after 18 hours or more on the mountain. Cut-off times were ignored and oxygen had run out."

Though only four deaths have been reported, Tomer says that Kedrowski confirmed at least five and suspects at least seven, and says teams are still attempting to locate some missing climbers and sherpas after the "horrific" weekend. According to Tomer, the situation is being compared to Everest's worst day ever, when eight people died on May 10, 1996. That day was chronicled by Jon Krakauer in Into Thin Air, AFP notes. This weekend is expected to be similarly crowded.

In this photograph taken on May 19, 2009, unidentified mountaineers descend from the summit of Everest.   (Getty Images)
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