Skip to comments.German doctor dies on Everest clean-up
Posted on 05/21/2012 5:18:41 AM PDT by King_Corey
A German man died on Mount Everest where he was helping clear the world's highest peak of rubbish, Nepalese tourism officials announced. His death brings the season's toll to five.
The 61-year-old doctor, Eberhard Schaaf, died on Saturday of extreme altitude sickness while descending the south side of the mountain, Ang Tshering Sherpa of the Kathmandu-based Asian Trekking adventure agency said.
"Climbers spend their energy on the ascent and they are exhausted and fatigued on the descent," Tshering explained.
Daily newspaper Bild said Schaaf, a passionate mountaineer from Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, was taking part in the "Eco Everest Expedition", a clean-up operation that since 2008 has cleared over 13 tonnes of rubbish from the mountain.
But severe altitude sickness caused Schaaf to develop swelling in the brain, which killed him.
"After assessing the symptoms, the medical staff at the Himalayan Rescue Association believe the cause of death to be High Altitude Cerebral Edema," a press release from Asain Trekking said.
"Our thoughts go out to the family of the deceased at this moment and we offer any assistance at this difficult time."
The mountain, which lies in the Himalayas, Nepal, also claimed the lives of a South Korean woman and a Nepali-born Canadian woman over the weekend. A Chinese climber and Nepali mountain guide are still missing.
Sherpa said South Korean Song Won-Bin, who had been missing since Saturday, died at "The Balcony", an area near the top of the 8,848-metre (29,029-feet) peak.
Hope and pray this isn't another deadly record year for the mountain.
How many people get up there to trash the place so much? I thought it was hard to climb.
Makes no sense to me when you know that climbing and descending from the summit could kill you. I have a 100% chance of living if I don’t climb and maybe a 95% if I do climb....I’ll take the higher number please.
Well at least now it’s clean and meets environmental standards and regulations.
“How many people get up there to trash the place so much? I thought it was hard to climb.”
I have seen photos of the area. The grounds are littered with hundreds of empty oxygen bottles and gear such as sleeping and cooking utensils. The climbers don’t bother lugging their trash with them on the way down. In addition, there are dead bodies all over the place.
A few hundred people climb Everest every year and most of their trash stays where they toss it. Even experienced climbers are too exhausted after makng the ascent to do more than just climb down. After 50 years or so it adds up. From what I hear, the rubbish is mostly discarded gear, but there is a sizeable amount of organic debris, including, as someone mentioned upthread, a number of bodies.
They’re not talking about the very highest peaks. The lower camps have everything dumped on them that no one wants to carry back down the hill, O2 bottles, soggy sleeping bags, anything trash.
From some pictures I’ve seen it looks like tons of waste scattered around.
Even the summit is reportedly a trash heap. It would seem man has befouled almost every corner of the earth now.
True. In a relative sense Everest is easy to climb in comparison to K2 which is almost the same height but has no tourist type climbers.
I work at a University and you ought to see the way these ‘earth first’, enviro-wacko’s trash this place. The maintenance guys cannot keep up with it. This trash and abuse of University property is gratuitous... because there are so many waste/recycle receptacles around here that you can hardly take a step without tripping over them!
There are over 200 bodies on Everest. If you google the right search terms you can pull up some pretty eery pics.
If it hits while you are summiting your chances of survival are less than 50/50. People have sat down and died right beside the summit trail and refused to move further, beliving that they are in a whiteout blizzard on a perfectly sunny day. The SOP is to leave these cases alone, because while trying to save them additional climbers can be killed. It's a scary place.
Poor guy—he gave his life in an anti-littering effort.
I cannot even imagine climbing Mt Everest. I am a lowland girl, born and raised at sea level. At 8 thousand feet I am already in serious trouble.
And learned why all those other climbers left it in the first place. Guy was an idiot and Darwin claimed him.
I will stay below 5k.
Into Thin Air. People pay tens of thousands of dollars to climb and what’s a water bottle tossed by the side of the trail? btw, although the book was interesting, by the end of it, I sort of wanted all of the climbers to jump off a cliff. I felt that way about the characters in The Brothers Karamazov.
A few yrs. ago there was a series on Discovery or one of the other channels concerning a group of climbers attempting Everest.
Changed my view of it.
It was disgusting. Trash littering the base camps. Hundreds of oxygen bottles ( think freon tanks) just tossed around. All types of abandoned camping equipment. A total trashed mess.
Each party wants to use their own lines, therefore ropes hanging everywhere.
So many parties going up and down they get in each way.
And the worst, bodies beside the trail of people that died trying. Just curled up where they took their last step.
A socialite took a party of friends, her own gourmet food and literally had Sherpas carry her to the top.
It costs about $30k for the trip.
I have zero respect for the whole idea.
I worked at one and my immediate super was a super greenie fascist. Nothing was ever “green” enough for her esp. when I was concerned. Nor was anything ever good enough ever for her as far as I was concerned, no matter what other people would come by and thank me for. I made it a point to keep any opinions to myself from the beginning but it didn’t matter.
Does your heart pound 24/7 at high altitudes? Last time I went to New Mexico I thought I was going to die. I could not sleep at night because of the pounding heart.
I was in Central Park late afternoon yesterday and witnessed the aftermath of the “AIDS Walk.” The Mall/Bethesda Terrace was utterly trashed. Empty yogurt cups and banana peels by the hundreds dropped on the ground everywhere. The high-minded libs left a greasy, sticky, slippery mess for others to clean up. Can’t say I was surprised.
The most discusting thing I saw was the greedy nature of these people who are more concerned about reaching the top rather than saving someone who is dying as they walk by.
Only in some backwards 3rd world hell whole is this accepted.
The normal route on Everest is a series of ascents punctuated by flats that are used as staging area’s for further climbing.
First you climb the Khumbu icefall from 18k to 20k.. then the long trek across the western cwm at about 20k to the Lhoste face.. then you climb the 5,000ft Lhotse with one camp inbetween to the South Col at around 26k which is were most of the crap is left.
Its the final camp before the summit assault and the refuge for returning summiteers so you get loads of spent oxygen bottles.. trashed tents.. human waste.. stove fuel cannisters.. sleeping mats etc.
It was treated as a dumping ground for years until people decided it was starting to look like a county tip.
The bodies are higher up, on the dicey sections of the climb. Not impossible to retrieve but hardly worth the risk.
Reinhold Messner was the first to propose a simple but effective solution: ban the use of bottled oxygen and sherpa support above 20,000ft.
90% of the “climbers” would never show up under such conditions and most of those who did would have to quit well short of the summit.
Messner climbed the north face of Everest solo, in winter, without oxygen, sherpas, or any support beyond his girlfriend waiting anxiously in a tent below and the pack on his back, so his word carries some weight in these matters.
With so many people who have made the climb, it shouldn’t rank up there on the top 10 big deals anymore. With all the garbage, it’s hardly the pristine paradise it once was. No thanks, I’d rather not use a dead body as a foot hold.
I watched some docu about some climbers taking on K2 and if I remember there is a 25% chance you will DIE.
Wonder if he's anywhere near "Green Boots?"
A high altitude helicopter is available that can climb to 30,000 feet,( i am sure it takes a while) so am told. The mountain should be cleaned by trained aircrews who could fly up collect the crap and bodies and fly down to the base camp.
Actually, I have read it costs $65K to get your shot at going to the top with one of the best guides. Keep in mind the reason it is so crowded is because May is the best month for weather. The rest of the year is almost immpossible to get above 20,000 feet. Also, 90% as the climbers go up the south face in Nepal. It is much more diificult to get the permit to go up the north face in Tibet since China took over the country. Also the north face is a much more difficult route.
Keep in mind that the people who make their living providing the guide service make most of their income for the year in a 1-2 month period. As somebody already suggested, it would eliminate 90% of the climbers if you were not allowed to use oxygen. However, it is up to Nepal and China to make that decision. The mountain is in their country. It brings a huge amount of revenue into that part of the world. After all it is all about the money.
Why go up there to clean?
Wait long enough and it will all roll down to the bottom eventually.
Fishtail Air out of Katmandu has a several Eurocopter AS350 B3’s. These helicopters have a max rescue altitude of 23, 000 feet and they accomplish that by flying with minimum fuel (8 gallons which permits 20 minutes of flying time). They charge $2500 per hour of operation. Trash pickup would cost a fortune.
I feel very sorry for this gentleman (doctor); but anybody who climes Everest is nuts.
One can stay home and climb one’s stair a jillion times a day. No problema.
Just put the air-conditioning down to minus 0 degrees, wrap up, and pretend one is climbing the Mt.
stair = stairs.
At one time there was a fair amount of trash on Everest. The vast majority was O2 bottles at the South Col. Now there is a recycle program for the bottles and they’ve been cleaned up for over 10 years. The Sherpa make extra money this way by bringing the bottles down instead of empty packs as they cache high camps early in the season. There was never a great deal of other trash. Most has always been packed out. Even human waste is now packed out. As far as bodies are concerned they aren’t all over the place but they are there. If someone dies directly on the route they are moved off to the side and either arranged respectfully or covered with rocks. Most die further down the mountain while attempting to get to lower altitude. Those persons are removed.
The idea that Everest is a trash heap is simply not true. Everest is one of the great clean up success stories.
Dying for Everest
Probably a lot longer. Mallory's was found after 75 years.
According to the wiki article on K2 that is about right but Annapurna has the highest rate of death. It does mention that K2 has never been climbed in winter unlike other 8000 meter plus mountains.
I remember visiting Colorado in the ‘90s (had been there long enough to acclimatize to the altitude) and had driven up as high as over 12,000 feet and spent the night in such places as Leadville & Cripple Creek, both over 10,000 feet. After leaving the latter place, we drove down to Colorado Springs, which is a “lowly” 6,000 feet. Stopping at “Garden of the Gods”, we encountered a busload of New York City firefighters, all of whom were in good shape physically, but huffing and puffing just merely strolling across a small parking lot like they were out-of-shape fatties. I wasn’t exactly the model of health then, but I was snickering that I was (at least at that moment) better able to handle the high altitude than all these strapping guys.
I have been going to Colorado and New Mexico every few years since I was a child. It was only on 2 of those dozens of trips that the altitude affected my heart. I might be a little out of breath or feel like my feet were heavy at 10,000 feet but never had my heart act like it did on those 2 trips. The most recent was about 5 years ago and then on a trip 10 years before that. This last time I should have gone to the ER, I’ll bet they would have given me a portable oxygen tank.
Yeah... you’d better stick to low-altitude states. =8-0
To bad and it’s sad, but in a way, good for him.
I hope that some day I kick the bucket while doing something I love (flying). Some people live safe lives but never lived, nor will they leave a legacy. Anything worth succeeding at, is also a place where you can fail, and that’s true in love, adventure, business, even our finances and how we raise our children. Men like him tend to have accomplished great things in life and while they died on a mountain, their name and accomplishments live on and frankly not even their death is as horrible as it may appear since they were doing what they loved.
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