Mount Everest climbers are experiencing a line at the “death zone.” Storyful
The Nepalese government seeks help in identifying four climbers whose bodies were brought down from Mount Everest during a particularly deadly climbing season atop the world’s tallest peak.
According to Agence France-Presse, the remains were worn to near skeletons because of the brutal conditions and brought down as part of a larger cleanup effort on the mountain. Officials weren’t sure how long the remains had been on Everest, AFP reported.
“We’re waiting for families to come and claim the bodies,” Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general of the Department of Tourism, told Reuters on Thursday.
About 300 people have died on Everest over the years, including at least 11 this climbing season, which has been marked by crowded slopes, inexperienced climbers and bad weather.
Mira Acharya, a director at Nepal’s tourism department, told The New York Times that if families do not come forward to claim the remains, the bodies will be cremated.
What caused Everest’s deadly season?: Overcrowding, inexperience and a long line to the top
The government plans to work with embassies in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, to get in touch with the families of foreign climbers who died on Everest, the Times reported.
When climbers die on Everest, their bodies are rarely brought down, given the deadly conditions on the mountain. Especially in the “death zone,” the area between the last camp and summit, the air is so thin atop the mountain that other climbers and Sherpas cannot exert extra energy carrying a dead climber’s body without risking their own life.
As a result, bodies and mounds of trash have piled up for years on the mountain’s more-than-29,000-foot peak.
More than 24,000 pounds of trash have been removed this year as officials push to clean up the mountain, The Associated Press reported.
The cleanup effort came as climbers crowded the mountain, holding a record-breaking 381 permits issued by the Nepalese government. Alan Arnette, a prominent Everest blogger who tracks the climbing season, said there were nearly 900 summits in 2019.
Those record numbers led some mountaineers to blame the 11 deaths this year on overcrowding. Photos from the mountain showed climbers waiting in a long line to summit.
Others faulted guide companies willing to bring up inexperienced climbers who can pay. Nepal’s government said poor weather limited the number of days that a summit attempt was possible, further exacerbating the issues on the mountain.
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‘Passed away doing what he loved’: Second American dies on Mount Everest in crowded year
In recent years, as snow and ice melted on Everest, more frozen bodies and trash have been exposed, prompting the drive for a cleanup.
Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller
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