What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
The high altitudes and extreme conditions near the summit of Mount Everest pose significant challenges for climbers, and unfortunately, some individuals who attempt to reach the peak do not survive. The harsh environment, combined with the physical and mental demands of high-altitude mountaineering, can lead to fatalities.
When a person dies on Mount Everest, the recovery of the body is often difficult and dangerous due to the extreme altitude, unpredictable weather, and challenging terrain. In some cases, bodies may remain on the mountain for an extended period, preserved by the cold temperatures and lack of decomposition.
Here are some common outcomes for bodies on Mount Everest:
- Left in place:
- Due to the challenges of recovering bodies at high altitudes, some climbers who die on Everest may be left in place, becoming part of the mountain’s landscape. These individuals are sometimes referred to as “Everest’s frozen dead.”
- Attempts at Recovery:
- In certain cases, if conditions permit, recovery teams or fellow climbers may attempt to retrieve a body. This can be a perilous undertaking and is not always successful.
- Memorial Markers:
- In memory of those who have lost their lives on Everest, some bodies or specific locations where climbers have died may become makeshift memorials or markers for future climbers.
It’s important to note that the recovery of bodies on Everest is complex, and decisions regarding retrieval often depend on factors such as safety, weather conditions, and the wishes of the deceased climber’s family. Mount Everest is a challenging and unforgiving environment, and climbers face numerous risks, including avalanches, extreme cold, high-altitude sickness, and challenging terrain.
What happens to your body in Mount Everest’s ‘death zone’?
1. Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. Its summit is 29,029 feet, or 5.5 miles, above sea level.
2. Climbers and scientists have a special name for the highest part of Everest, or everything above 26,247 feet (8,000 meters): “The Death Zone.”
3. In the Death Zone, oxygen is so limited that the body’s cells start to die. Climbers’ judgment becomes impaired, and they can experience heart attacks, strokes, or severe altitude sickness.
4. Recently, the queues to reach Everest’s summit have been so long that climbers in the Death Zone are dying of exhaustion waiting in line for their turn to climb.
5. Human bodies cannot function properly above a certain altitude. We work best at sea level, where oxygen levels are adequate. In the Death zone, there is so little oxygen that the body starts to die, minute by minute and cell by cell
6. At sea level, the air contains about 21% oxygen. But when humans reach altitudes above 12,000 feet, where oxygen levels are 40% lower, it takes a huge toll on our bodies.
7. At this height, air has so little oxygen in it that even with supplementary air tanks, it can feel like “running on a treadmill and breathing through a straw.”
8. Expeditions generally make at least three trips up the mountain from Everest Base Camp (which is higher than nearly every mountain in Europe at 17,600 feet), going a few thousand feet higher with each successive trip, before making a push for the top.
9. Over the course of weeks, the body starts to make more hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body) in order to compensate for the change in altitude.
10. But too much hemoglobin can thicken your blood, making it harder for the heart to pump blood around the body. That can lead to a stroke or the accumulation of fluid in your lungs.
11. A quick stethoscope check can reveal a clicking sound as fluid that’s leaked into the lungs rattles around—a condition called high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Symptoms include fatigue, a feeling of impending suffocation at night, weakness, and a persistent cough bringing up white, watery,or frothy fluid. Sometimes the coughing is so severe that it cracks or separates the ribs.
12. Also, if your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can start to swell, causing high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE), which is bad for the brain. This swelling can trigger nausea, vomiting, and difficulty thinking and reasoning.
13. An oxygen-starved brain means climbers sometimes forget where they are, entering a delirium that some experts consider a form of high-altitude psychosis. Hypoxic climbers’ judgment becomes impaired, and they’ve been known to do strange things like start shedding their clothes or talking to imaginary friends.
14. “Sleeping becomes a problem. Muscle wasting takes place. Weight loss takes place.” Nausea and vomiting from altitude sickness, including HAPE and HACE, will cause a decrease in appetite. The glare from the endless snow and ice can cause snow blindness, temporary vision loss, or burst blood vessels in your eyes.
15. Typically, climbers attempting to bag the summit try and make it up and down in a single day of flurried activity, spending as little time as possible in the Death Zone before returning to safer altitudes. But this frenzied push to the finish line comes at the end of weeks of climbing, during one of the hardest parts of the route up.
16. On May 22, when 250 climbers attempted to reach the mountain’s’ summit, many climbers had to wait in line to go up and down the mountain. These extra, unplanned hours in the Death Zone made the difference between life and death for 11 climbers. What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
Do climbers ever stop to pay their respects to the bodies on Mount Everest? Why or why not?
Climbers on Mount Everest may encounter the remains of individuals who did not survive the climb, and the decision to stop and pay respects can vary among climbers. Here are some considerations:
- Safety Concerns:
- Climbing Mount Everest is inherently dangerous, and the primary focus for climbers is often on their safety and the safety of their team. Stopping to pay respects may pose additional risks, especially if it affects the climbing schedule or exposes climbers to hazardous conditions.
- Emotional Impact:
- Encountering the remains of fellow climbers can be emotionally distressing. Some climbers may choose to pay respects as a way of honoring those who have lost their lives, while others may find it emotionally challenging and prefer to continue their ascent without stopping.
- Cultural and religious beliefs:
- Some climbers may adhere to specific cultural or religious beliefs that influence their decision to stop and pay respects. In some cultures, showing reverence for the deceased is an important practice.
- Limited Resources:
- Mount Everest expeditions are often tightly scheduled, and climbers may have limited resources, including oxygen, to spend extended periods at high altitudes. Stopping for too long can deplete essential supplies and increase the risk of altitude-related illnesses.
- Personal Choices:
- The decision to stop and pay respects is ultimately a personal one. Some climbers may feel a strong connection to the climbing community and wish to acknowledge those who came before them, while others may prioritize their primary goal of reaching the summit.
It’s important to note that Mount Everest has become a challenging environment, with a significant number of climbers attempting the ascent each year. The mountain’s extreme conditions and high-altitude challenges can influence climbers’ decisions regarding stopping to pay respects to fallen climbers. The complexities of mountaineering on Everest often lead to a variety of personal choices and responses when faced with the presence of deceased climbers on the mountain.
How many dead bodies are there on Mt. Everest?
There are over 200 bodies on Mount Everest, and they’re used as landmarks. Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world. Every year, climbers from around the world try to climb to the top of the world. Among all climbers, more than 200 people never come from Mt. Everest.
The mountain gives deaths to his climbers through falling into the abyss, suffocating from the lack of oxygen, and being smashed by
What happens if you die on Mt. Everest?
The best estimate of what will happen if you die on an Everest expedition is to examine the statistics that befell those who died in the years before you—the law of averages will hold true into the future.
Over the years (as of December 2023), 333 people have lost their lives on Everest expeditions. I’ve examined the data in The Himalayan Database ©, various media sources, and contacted Nepali Sherpas who’ve organised recoveries. The following statistics are apparent:
- Body recovered and removed: 140 (42%)
- Body never found: 54 (16%)
- Body on or near the route: 38 (11%) (see note below.)
- Body transported by glacier off Everest decades later: 24 (8%) (see note 2 below)
- Shallow grave on the mountain: 14 (4%)
- Body lost in crevasse: 13
- Body landed very far below and off route: 13
- Body pushed over a ledge, never to be seen again: 11
- Body placed into a crevasse by climbers, where it remains: 7
- The body subsequently disappeared.
- Unidentified remains were recovered by a cleaning team many years later: 5
- Body subsequently blown over a ledge, never to be seen again: 3
- Body lost under avalanche: 6
- No details are available: 4
- What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
Photo: The bodies of Everest climbers on the helipad in Kathmandu, just after recovery.
One additional observation is worthwhile. In recent years, particularly on the south side of Everest, an increasing number of bodies have been recovered. If weather conditions are reasonable, recovery teams can operate up to about 8,400m. In what is an extremely arduous operation, recovery teams can drag, lower, and slide a body down to Camp 2 at 6,500m, at which point a helicopter takes over.
As an example of recent recovery statistics, between 2011 and 2022, there have been 88 deaths on Everest expeditions, with 68 (77%) of those bodies recovered. But note, however, that the recovery of bodies above 7,000m on the north side and above 8,400m on the south side is still extremely rare due to the difficulty and danger.
In May 2021, a body was recovered from the Southeast Ridge at 8,700 m—higher than any other point on earth, excluding the 150 metres above.
Several additional bodies were probably recovered over the years or dragged off route, but I’ve not seen the operations documented anywhere. In addition, several bodies on the Tibetan side were dragged off route and pushed over cliffs in the last several years—these operations were not documented. A climber on the northeast route would not expect to see more than half a dozen bodies from previous years on that route. On the southeast route, a climber would not expect to see more than three bodies from previous years. Off these two main climbing routes, it’s most unlikely that a body would be encountered.
The Everest glaciers move more than 1 metre per week. Several bodies that were lost or buried above Base Camp in crevasses decades ago have since been transported by nature to and below Base Camp. By my calculations (based on glacial speed, the location where specific bodies were lost or placed in crevasses on Everest, and the number of years since death), the remains of 24 further climbers are now—most likely—no longer on the mountain. These remains are broken down by nature. If they are discovered and identification is not possible, they are cremated.
Photo: Four Sherpas, at 7,950m on Mount Everest, drag a body out of Everest Camp 4. They had recovered the body from 8,300 meters (photo credit: Dawa Finjhok Sherpa and The New York Times).
Data Source: What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
What happens to the dead bodies that the change in weather on Mount Everest exposes?
Bodies on Everest generally experience one of two fates: either they are exposed on the mountainside or they fall  down a face or into a crevasse.
In the latter case, they are covered by snow and eventually end up as part of the glacier. Very occasionally, parts of them are found decades later as part of the glacial moraine.
In the former case, they don’t decompose. The cold and wind tend to freeze and desiccate the bodies, and the weather isn’t warm enough for them to thaw out. There’s very little bacterial activity or animal life to decompose the bodies, beyond the occasional opportunistic crow in (very) good weather.
When Conrad Anker found George Mallory’s body in 1999—75 years after Mallory vanished on his summit attempt—it was almost perfectly preserved, and Anker described Mallory’s skin as having been frozen and dried to the point that it resembled alabaster.
However, Mallory has nothing on the body of a 7-year-old Incan boy that was found. well-preserved, in a cave at 5,300m in 1985. It was estimated to be around 500 years old. The cold, dry, thin air on a mountain will do that to you.
 or are pushed or thrown off the mountain by other mountaineers. This isn’t disrespectful; it’s the mountaineering equivalent of a burial at sea. What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
Do dead bodies around Mount Everest get taken back, or are they just left up there?
Here’s the cold, hard truth—no pun intended. The majority of the bodies on Mount Everest remain right where they fell.
Why, you ask? Well, it comes down to risk and resources. You see, at altitudes above 8,000 meters, you’re entering what’s known as the “death zone.” Oxygen is scarce, the weather is unpredictable, and every moment up there, you’re flirting with your own demise.
To retrieve a body in such extreme conditions requires an enormous amount of effort, a dedicated team, and resources that most expeditions simply can’t spare. The cost alone could run tens of thousands of dollars, and that’s if the person’s location is even accessible. Everest, in her immensity, isn’t particularly known for cooperating with such endeavors.
Over the years, a few bodies have been recovered, typically when they are in a location that poses a risk to other climbers or during instances where they are located relatively close to one of the camps and the logistics are somewhat more feasible. In those cases, it’s a bit like a grim community service.
So, in essence, those who succumb to the mountain often become a part of it, sometimes serving as waypoints for future climbers. It’s both a somber reminder of the perilous journey and a testament to the indomitable spirit of climbers who push past where most humans dare to tread.
As someone living in Portland, OR, this reminds me to respect nature’s boundaries, whether I’m up on the frosty slopes of Mt. Hood or just hiking the trails of the Columbia River Gorge. Mother Nature commands respect, and sometimes she demands it in the most irreversible ways.
Climbing Everest is as much about battling one’s own limitations as it is about summitting a mountain. And for some, that battle is their last, immortalized in the ice and snow of the highest place on Earth.
What was the horror experience of yours or someone you know who climbed Mt. Everest?
On May 19, 2017, early in the afternoon, I reached camp four for my final summit push to Everest. The weather was windy, and along with me, our small team had decided to spend the night in camp four as most of the climbers were returning to camp two. I was a bit sick at the time, as my voice was gone.
Due to my illness, I was also thinking of leaving Camp 4, but the voice from inside always shouted to me, ‘No, Noel, no, you have to climb anyhow’. Then, after spending one night in camp four, I left with my guide (my guide was also climbing for the first time) and our small Chinese team on May 20th.
I was a bit tired and lost so much energy after spending an extra night (particularly on the summit push, where climbers only take rest for a few hours in camp four and leave for the summit on the same day) and being sick. I was in turmoil and had doubts about my capacity.
Soon after I left the camp, I encountered the dead body of Gautam Gosh. It was the first time I had seen the dead body so closely on my way. I was startled and frightened by the death. Perhaps I would have anticipated my own death and started to think about myself. I tried to look at him, but I couldn’t dare to look, and after a few hours, I saw Slovakian climber Vladimír Štrba was just sitting with his eyes wide open. My eyes met his eyes as climbers from behind were in the line.
I couldn’t speak and tried to draw the attention of my guide and my friends. All my team members pushed me not to look at him and continue the journey. I was so shocked and couldn’t think about anything, and a few meters away after Vladimir Strba, I saw another climber who covered himself after being tied to the rope. What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
He was Dr. Roland Yearwood from the USA. Till that time, I had no idea who they were or what happened to them, but I was frightened by the death and imagined my own dead body lying on the death zone, as I would be watching all the climbers with my dead soul.
What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
I didn’t know how I gathered all my strength and climbed the Everest, and in my return, I saw them lying. I was so sad, exhausted, and tired that I dragged myself quickly to camp four as my guide had already left me (I want to warn all the commercial and novice climbers not to hire a new guide for any expedition) as it was not his mistake, but in the death zone, never allow your guide to pass over you.
Finally, I reached quickly to camp four and then to camp two without stopping; I really didn’t have any ideas or memories of my descending journey from the summit of Everest. I was hallucinated and very much frightened by my death.
After reaching base camp, I have come to know about them. Before my summit, famous Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck died in a fall from Nuptse, and Min Bahadur Sherchan passed away in Base Camp. In the 2017 Everest Expedition, seven climbers died, and with the number of climbers, the fatality rate was very low in comparison with past years.
My other horror experience in Everest was experiencing the big serac fall down after I crossed the path in the Khumbu icefall. I was so afraid and still think about what would happen if I was 30 seconds late to cross it. Similarly, I encountered a big avalanche in the Dhaulagiri 2018 expedition.
While traveling around the world, I have not taken a video of my journey, and this is the first time I have taken a video of my Everest expedition.
Conclusion: Well, we all humans have a nature to fear death, but sooner or later death will come to us, whether we never go out of our homes or go on adventurous journeys. Let us live life to the fullest without harming nature or humanity. My deep respect to all the climbers who have passed during their adventurous journey and my deep prayers to all the people in the world who have passed after their biggest contribution to humanity. What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
Do dead bodies around Mount Everest get taken back, or are they just left up there?
The majority of them get left up there, depending on where they die. The main reason is that you can only stay near the summit for a very short time because your oxygen tank will run out}. If you’re trying to drag a body down with you, you risk losing your own life. You simply don’t have time. What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
Some people fall to their deaths off the trail. Nobody is going off trail to get them when the trail looks like this.
It could be potentially dangerous and deadly for them. I think it’s also important to mention, as we hikers know, the weather.
Did you know there are only about 4 chances a year people can hike Mt. Everest because of the weather? Weather can change in the blink of an eye, and even with full body thermal suits, the weather on Mt. Everest can get to -100 degrees. I think it’s also important for people to realize what a whiteout is and how important visibility is.
People who don’t hike wouldn’t understand. Imagine being trapped on a mountain and not being able to see the hand in front of your face, let alone the trail. White-outs are very scary and can quite literally happen at any moment. This is why trails have cairns.
Has there been any effort made to retrieve the bodies on mount Everest? If not, why is it so hard?
Yes. Attempts are made all the time to retrieve bodies from Mount Everest. The problem is that it’s dangerous work. As you can see from this picture graph, the majority of the bodies are found above 8 thousand meters. This is the point known as the Death Zone because the amount of available oxygen is roughly a third of what is available at sea level.
With that extreme lack of oxygen, your body does not even have the energy to digest food, let alone carry anywhere from maybe 115 pounds (for a woman) to over 200 pounds (for a man) worth of literal dead weight. Couple that with the difficult terrain, the cold, and the chances of an avalanche or rock fall, and the risks climb even higher. Also, depending on how long the body has been up there, there is a real possibility that they have frozen onto the mountain.
Also, there are several areas where traveling with a dead body is enormously difficult. There are some parts of the mountain that are almost vertical, so the body has to be lowered by rope carefully while the rescuers themselves try to make their way down. On the north side of the mountain, there is the infamous ladder of death, which amounts to two connected ladders that are almost vertical and don’t completely reach the ledge (you still have to climb a bit afterwards) they are leading to. Oh yeah, and if you fall from there, you’re falling from thousands of meters up.
On the more popular South Eastern Route up the mountain (the derisively named Yak route), there is still the treacherous Kumbu Icefall that has to be navigated. The Icefall is essentially a frozen river of massive blocks of ice that slowly makes its way down the mountain.
Going through this area means navigating crevasses that are at times so massive that you have to go across on a ladder wide enough for only one person to cross at a time. All this effort has to be made because the lack of atmosphere at higher elevations makes landing on and then taking off from the mountain on a helicopter enormously difficult and dangerous.
For all these reasons, most bodies found on Mount Everest are either buried with rocks found nearby in makeshift cairns or pushed off the side of the mountain. That is, of course, if the body is able to be seen at all. Sometimes it is covered by snow, or the person has fallen to an inaccessible location. What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
What do climbers feel when they stumble on a dead body while climbing Mt. Everest?
There are more than 200 bodies on the mountain. Some of them became landmarks. I heard that a body may be unavoidable because it might still be attached to the rope.
Warning: Graphic photo below.
This is my personal experience only—everyone’s reaction will be different and individual to them.
A few years back, a buddy of mine shared with me that he was amazed I’d just delivered such a lucid and calm oration at my father’s funeral—he surmised that he would go to pieces in such a situation. But then just a few months ago, our positions were reversed. I listened to him recount some beautiful words in a composed manner at his own father’s funeral.
Real life rarely has the drama that Hollywood suggests. We’re often just bungling through. Life happens around us. Sometimes it thumps our senses; we do what we can, move on, and then—in the blink of an eye—it’s on to the next challenge or mundanity. Real life is often a lot more ordinary—and with far fewer heroics—than we might expect.
Back to the question: What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
Here is what I felt when I stumbled upon a dead body on Everest. We were at 7,250m. We had just switched on our oxygen tanks and were entering the death zone.
Extract from Ascent Into Hell (Fergus White, 2017)
I push myself over a ridge. The wall of ice at my nose relents. The Lhotse Face opens up in front of me. I’m staring at a more moderate white slope, all the way up to the rocky summit of the world’s fourth highest mountain. I can see what’s ahead. It’ll be easier than the first half hour. I also understand what’s caused the delay. Fifty metres from me, an injured climber is lying on the snow.
We plod up towards the incapacitated person. He remains motionless in a bright orange and yellow jacket, bound in ropes. A cord connects him to the fixed line. I watch mountaineers, ten paces ahead, trudge past him in silence. It’s clear the man is not injured. He is dead.
I’m taken aback by the man’s demise. I’m not sure of the protocol. He lies here at the entrance to the death zone. I didn’t expect to find a sentry guarding a checkpoint, but nor did I expect death to wave us through.
The only guidance I can take is the climber’s silent warning to the rest of us: this is a treacherous undertaking. I lumber by, as the procession ahead has, and acknowledge the moment.What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
[Two hours later]
My mind drifts back to the dead climber. What caused his life to end here on the snow? Many have died on this mountain over the years. Those who die lower down can be dragged back to Base Camp by a paid Sherpa team. Those who succumb up high are dropped down a crevasse or pulled a little off route, away from the public glare. At some stage in the future, the manpower and equipment may be available to carry them down to a decent burial.
The glacier grinds down the valley, while millions of tons of fresh snow fall on it each year. Apart from the harsh environs above Camp 4, it doesn’t disclose where the dead have lain. It will receive a few more bodies in the coming days. I consider the law of averages, presume it will be no one on our team, and lift my left boot upwards.What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
Photo: The body I stood beside at 7,250m.
Much later, I learned that the dead climber was 43-year-old Russian Sergei Duganov. He’d been trying to climb Lhotse, which shares a route with Everest, to about 7,700m. He’d spent a night with teammates at their Camp 4 at 7,800m, but began to feel poorly there. The following morning, they decided to descend. Duganov made it just a few metres out of camp when he collapsed. There was no sign of life, and efforts to revive him failed.
The cause of death was altitude sickness (HACE or HAPE). A few days later, a Sherpa team began the process of dragging his body lower. When I came upon his unattended body early in the morning at 7,250m, the Sherpas were probably still recuperating in Camp 3 before getting back to their arduous task. Four days later, his body was flown out of Camp 2 by helicopter. May he rest in peace.
Footnotes: What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
What happens if you die on Mt. Everest?
It depends on how you die and where. A lot of the people who die can’t be retrieved, and in many cases, the body is never found. If you fall into a crevice or off the side of the mountain, it’s possible that no one knows where you are.
Many people die right by the climbing routes, but bringing the body back down is just too dangerous. It’s hard for most people to understand just how debilitating it is to climb the tallest mountains—above 8,000 meters, your body starts to shut down, you lose your appetite, you’re likely dehydrated, and you’re constantly short of oxygen. For most people, it’s all they can do to get their own barely-functioning body up and down the mountain—carrying a dead body is just not possible.
These days, with Everest so crowded with climbers, nobody makes it to the top of Everest without seeing people who didn’t make it.
Surprisingly, perhaps, Everest is not the most dangerous mountain—not by a long shot. These days, there are lots of commercial guide companies on Everest, and ladders and safety lines are available on the most popular route.
The death-to-summit ratio—a common measure of how dangerous it is to try to scale a mountain—is about 3% for Everest. Comparing it to some of the other “Eight Thousanders” (that is, mountains taller than 8000 meters), only three of the 14 Eight Thousanders have a lower death-to-summit ratio than Everest: Cho Oyo, Gasherbrum II, and Lhotse. The others all kill a higher percentage of climbers than Everest. (Everest kills more people in absolute numbers just because so many people attempt to climb Everest.)
If you really want to see some bodies—and likely leave your own frozen body behind—try K2 (23% death-to-summit ratio) or the most dangerous mountain in the world, Annapurna (27%). These numbers are actually far worse than they seem—thanks to the tour companies, a lot of very inexperienced people successfully climb Everest. By contrast, the people who attempt K2 and Annapurna are almost entirely very experienced mountaineers, and the mountain still beats them in large numbers.
How many dead bodies are there on Mt. Everest?
Over 250 bodies remain on Everest, giving it claim to the title of the world’s largest open-air graveyard. While most deaths occur due to avalanches, falls, and exposure to the harsh climate, the area known as the “Death Zone” holds a terribly high body count and comes with its own unique set of problems.
If someone dies on Everest, it’s almost impossible to retrieve their body, especially in the Death Zone. Due to unbearable weather conditions, severe lack of oxygen, pressure on dead weight, and the fact that many bodies are completely frozen onto the mountain face, most corpses are left exactly as they fall. Attempts are sometimes made to retrieve the body of a loved one, but those expeditions can cost upward of $25,000 and are extremely dangerous for the retrieval team.
What happens to all the items placed on the summit of Everest? Does it all stay there? So would items placed by someone 20 years ago still be there?
It is not removed. Gets blown around by the wind and gets buried in the snow. Yes, there is stuff left there from 20 years ago, including bodies.
In 1996, Tsewang Paljor, from India, died just below the summit. Known as “Green Boots,” his body was there until 2017. The body can no longer be seen, and it is not known definitively what happened to it. George Mallory’s body was found in 1999 after he apparently fell and died in 1924.
What would happen if you were caught stealing the frozen human bodies from Mount Everest?
This is a line of people climbing Everest. The only time it can be climbed is a narrow window of “decent” weather in May. So everyone and their uncle are packing up and heading out. If you were to try to take a dead body, you would be seen; at least they’d see you dragging it behind you.
But you wouldn’t be able to do that. Why? Because the best climbers in the world can’t carry more than they absolutely need. The oxygen is too thin; they’re lucky if they can get to the top and back down. Most don’t make it that far. There are several reasons the bodies are left behind, but the most compelling is you would risk your life trying to bring the remains down.
Climbing Everest is a battle for survival. You do everything you can and go to the limit of what you think you can do, just trying to get back down that mountain alive. You are crossing bottomless crevasses on rickety ladders, inching across cliffs with the thinnest rope and anchors, which are driven into weak ice and rock. The most experienced climbers often can’t get a living person down; how would you manage with the remains of the dead?
Also, the bodies are frozen to the rock and ice; why else would they be anchored in place when storms with gale-force winds hit and they remain there?
Even if you managed to climb the mountainside to get to a body by the time you got there, you’d have lost any desire you had to spend any time with the remains because, quite frankly, they are a reminder of the very, very real possibility you will end up as they are.
Edit: What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?
People have pointed out that I didn’t really answer the question; I just told them how impossible it would be. Ouch. So ok. I did some research, and here’s what I found:
The Nepalese consider Mount Everest sacred and do not wish for it to become a graveyard. Parents of some who have perished have asked for the bodies to be left on the mountain, but there is a dilemma as this is against Nepalese law.
The bodies on Mt. Everest that are known of usually remain in situ because the risk to climbers to recover them may cost another life or two. Some of the perfectly preserved bodies sometimes become “trail markers” and, as such, become famous for their location. Sometimes expedition companies or the local government, or even family and friends of the climber, will organize and pay for recovery operations.
They die, and then we have some of the best-preserved human remains. For instance, climber Conrad Anker found the body of Mallory from the infamous first Everest Expedition in 1924. It was a mystery for 80 years or so. The flesh was still thick and pretty normal-looking, with all the flesh on the body having a white marble-like appearance. From the location, there was a good chance he summited, but people seem to forget that that is halfway.
It doesn’t count if you summit and die on the way down. But for more recent deaths, they are just there, frozen in time. These bodies and other trash are high enough in our atmosphere where bacteria and other decomposing agents can exist, but you do see damage from the weather, especially high winds, but that usually damages clothing and equipment. But be prepared to see many dead climbers. It’s too dangerous to try and carry a dead climber back down; it would most likely cause another death or injury. Which would then again put more climbers at risk trying to save that guy.
What happens to bodies around Mount Everest’s peak?