Climber reveals Everest 'carnage' as people step over bodies to reach summit

Elia Saikaly reveals scenes of congestion on Everest - Elia SaikalyElia Saikaly reveals scenes of congestion on Everest - Elia Saikaly
Elia Saikaly reveals scenes of congestion on Everest – Elia Saikaly

A Canadian filmmaker has vowed never to return to Everest after describing the “carnage” at the top of the mountain this year, which included having to step over a dead body.

Elia Saikaly climbed Everest for the third time this month as he filmed a documentary about four Arab women making the ascent but was shocked by the scenes at the summit.

More than 800 people have reached the peak this year, with at least 10 fatalities. A photograph of the queue to reach the summit went viral last week.

“Death. Carnage. Chaos,” was how Mr Saikaly, an experienced mountain climber, summed up what he saw after setting off to summit Everest on May 22.

In an interview with The Ottowan Citizen, the newspaper of his hometown, Mr Saikaly said that despite climbing the mountain three times he would not be returning again.

“Do I think I’ll go back? I don’t think so. Not after this season… It was pretty horrific.”

Heavy traffic of mountain climbers lining up to stand at the summit of Mount Everest, as released by climber Nirmal Purja's Project Possible expedition - Credit: AFPHeavy traffic of mountain climbers lining up to stand at the summit of Mount Everest, as released by climber Nirmal Purja's Project Possible expedition - Credit: AFP
Heavy traffic of mountain climbers lining up to stand at the summit of Mount Everest Credit: AFP

Mr Saikaly told The Telegraph: “When we left at 9.30pm it was very alarming as within 20 minutes we saw two Sherpas had brought down a deceased climber.

“Within 45 minutes an Indian climber was brought down who was delirious and screaming and yelling which are the signs of acute mountain sickness.”

Roughly three hours into the climb, his group was forced to walk over another dead mountaineer. 

“It was incredibly bizarre… every single climber making their way to the summit had to step over this person – absolutely devastating.”

With temperatures dropping to minus 30 degrees his group was then forced to wait in the ‘death zone’ to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain while “50 or 60” others at the top paused to take selfies.

Elia Saikaly's photo shows the line of climbers on EverestElia Saikaly's photo shows the line of climbers on Everest
Elia Saikaly’s photo shows the line of climbers on Everest

Many were traumatised after passing another dead body near to the summit.

“You are climbing this very famous iconic obstacle and just beneath you is a climber’s body, lifeless and lying there and you don’t know what to do or feel but you know you have to move or else you could be the next victim, ” Mr Saikaly said.

“This is your dream… and we all reached the summit and most of us didn’t want to touch the highest point on earth because there were so many people up there.” 

An American climber became the latest fatality on the mountain on Monday.

Christopher Kulish, a 62-year-old Colorado lawyer , died at a camp below the summit during his descent. The cause isn’t yet known, said his brother, Mark Kulish of Denver.

Christopher Kulish beneath Mount Everest - Credit: APChristopher Kulish beneath Mount Everest - Credit: AP
Christopher Kulish beneath Mount Everest Credit: AP

He had just reached the top of Everest with a small group after crowds of hundreds of climbers congested the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) peak last week, his brother said.

“He saw his last sunrise from the highest peak on Earth. At that instant, he became a member of the ‘7 Summit Club,’ having scaled the highest peak on each continent,” Mark Kulish said in a statement.

He described his brother as a lawyer in his “day job” who was “an inveterate climber of peaks in Colorado, the West and the world over.”

“He passed away doing what he loved, after returning to the next camp below the peak,” Mark Kulish said.

A British climber Robin Hanes Fisher was also among those who died last week.

The 44-year-old died on his descent after reaching the 8,850-metre (29,035 feet) summit of the world’s highest mountain.

He had admitted before setting off that he feared the dangers of overcrowding in the “death zone”.

The scale of the problem was revealed on Monday when local authorities retrieved four bodies and some ten tonnes of garbage.

Nepali Army personnel collect waste from Mount Everest at Namche Bazar in Solukhumbu district - Credit: AFPNepali Army personnel collect waste from Mount Everest at Namche Bazar in Solukhumbu district - Credit: AFP
Nepali Army personnel collect waste from Mount Everest at Namche Bazar in Solukhumbu district Credit: AFP

As this year’s climbing season comes to an end, army helicopters and porters transported the refuse down to Namche Bazar, the last major town on the route to Mount Everest.

Global warming means melting glaciers are revealing human remains and rubbish, which has gathered over decades of commercial mountaineering and as an increasing number of big-spending climbers who pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind.

The four bodies were brought down by helicopter last week according to media reports.

The 14-strong team sent by the government spent about six weeks scouring for litter at base camp and at Camp 4 – nearly 8,000 metres up – scraping together empty cans, bottles, plastic and discarded climbing gear.

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