Up the Mountain, Dead: Bodies on Everest

If you ever attempt to climb Mount Everest, you’re in for a treacherous trek: 29,029 feet of extreme temperatures, a lack of oxygen, and ascents that challenge the world’s greatest climbers.

Oh, and dead people. About 120 of them.

The problem with dying on Everest is that it’s too dangerous to recover the dead. Because of the mountain’s height, oxygen is scarce, and climbers are already exhausting their body’s energy reserves just to keep going. The injured have been left to die when rescue attempts fail; someone who’s already dead just isn’t worth the risk.

Instead, the bodies become a kind of landmark, macabre signposts for climbers making their way up the mountain. For example, this is “Green Boots”:


He was separated from his climbing group, and died under an overhang. He’s recognized by his distinctive boots, and climbers expect to find him lying there.

Unfortunately, another man, David Sharp, fell near where Green Boots still rests. Believing him to be the famous corpse, “Over 30 climbers passed by him as he sat freezing to death.” He, too, has joined the mountain dead.

At best, the bodies may be buried with nearby rocks. But if you die up there, you’ll be there forever.

Suddenly shoveling my driveway doesn’t seem so bad.

(Find more photos of Everest’s corpses at Altered Dimensions.)

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