Everest Victim Wanted to Prove 'Vegans Can Do Anything'

Maria Strydom succumbed to altitude sickness near the summit
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2016 8:33 AM CDT
Everest Victim Wanted to Prove 'Vegans Can Do Anything'
Maria "Marisa" Strydom with her husband, Robert Gropel, via Facebook.   (Facebook)

A fourth person has died on Mount Everest, and further details about the deaths are slowly emerging. Subhash Paul of India was being assisted overnight Sunday by Sherpa guides during a descent when he died of altitude sickness, the AP reports. Dutch climber Eric Arnold passed away Friday of the same malady, while Australia's Maria Strydom succumbed to it on Saturday. A 25-year-old Sherpa was the first to die this climbing season: Phurba Sherpa fell to his death Thursday while trying to prep a route for climbers just 150 feet from the top, CNN reports. Two other Indian climbers remain missing, and dozens are suffering from frostbite or signs of altitude sickness. "This was a man-made disaster that may have been minimized with better management of the teams," the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association tells the AP, noting that too many people on the mountain may have led to logjams that contributed to the deaths.

The Washington Post covers Strydom's ambition with her husband, Robert Gropel, both on a mission to ascend the "seven summits." The couple had faced criticism for being hard-core climbers adhering to a strict vegan diet, which some say could lead to protein and iron deficiencies. "It seems that people have this warped idea of vegans being malnourished and weak," Strydom said in a March interview with Monash Business School, where she taught. "By climbing the seven summits we want to prove that vegans can do anything and more." Strydom also made reference to the same issues the NMA president noted, saying even though she felt ready for Everest, "we've all heard stories of frostbite and having to turn around from excessive waiting times due to inexperienced people blocking routes. This can lead to life-threatening situations and death." Meanwhile, per the Sydney Morning Herald, Strydom's sister says her family is angry about what they say is a lack of official communication (and condolences) from the expedition group. (By one measure, this mountain is far taller than Everest.)

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