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From left: Shriya Shah-Klorfine with expedition manager Rishi Kandel and Ganesh Thakuri, managing director of Utmost Adventure Trekking Pvt. Ltd., on the way to Camp 1. (From Shriya Shah-Klorfine's Facebook page)
From left: Shriya Shah-Klorfine with expedition manager Rishi Kandel and Ganesh Thakuri, managing director of Utmost Adventure Trekking Pvt. Ltd., on the way to Camp 1. (From Shriya Shah-Klorfine's Facebook page)

TRAGEDY ATOP THE WORLD

How Everest's 'death zone' claimed a Canadian Add to ...

Above the cloud cover, on a windswept outcrop known as the Balcony, the guides who accompanied Shriya Shah-Klorfine tried to persuade the Toronto woman to turn back and give up on her bid to reach the top of Mount Everest.

They were at 8,310 metres, in the “death zone,” so high that the body cannot get used to the thin air and begins to deteriorate.

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They had been climbing all night and there were delays ahead before they had even reached the Hillary Step, a tricky rock face where other climbers were bottlenecked.

Ms. Shah-Klorfine’s outfitter, Ganesh Thakuri, wanted her to turn around.

“Please sister, don’t push yourself. If you feel weak, please go back. You can come next year, try to climb next year. Don’t push yourself, it might kill you,” Mr. Thakuri said.

“I really want to go. I really want to reach the top,” she replied.

By the end of the day, the 33-year-old Canadian woman was one of four who died on Everest Saturday, worn out by the cold, the lack of oxygen and the long climb.

The tragedy has again raised questions about the safety of the large numbers of climbers who jam the mountain each year during the few windows of good weather.

A team of six sherpas will now try to recover her body, Mr. Thakuri said in an interview from Kathmandu, giving more details about the last hours of the Canadian climber.

Mr. Thakuri, managing director of Utmost Adventure Trekking Pvt. Ltd., said Ms. Shah-Klorfine was part of a group that his firm and another outfitter, Happy Feet Mountaineering, had guided to Camp IV, the final stop at 7,800 metres, on a rocky, windy area littered with abandoned gear and oxygen tanks.

After leaving Camp IV at 11 p.m., they reached The Balcony in the morning but faced delays of two hours because of the high volume of climbers on the route ahead.

Mr. Thakuri said it was impossible to force Ms. Shah-Klorfine to abandon the climb.

“She was telling me: ‘I spent a lot of money to come over here. It’s my dream,’ ” he said.

“I really pushed her hard [to stop]but it didn’t work. We couldn’t carry her down ourselves and come down … There is no way that we can carry her and walk down. It is too high. It’s too hard.”

With two guides, Temba Sherpa and Dawa Dendi Sherpa, she got to the summit between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m. However, descending in the evening, she was exhausted and had run out of oxygen bottles.

“It was very slow walking. She could not walk. The two sherpas bring her down,” Mr. Thakuri said.

“It became very, very late. Around 10:30 p.m. she lost everything. She was dead and the sherpas left her there and came down.”

He said the sherpas returned the next morning and took pictures with her camera to document her death, then moved her body to get it out of the way.

Ms. Shah-Klorfine’s body is somewhere at 8,500 metres, between Camp IV, on the South Col, and the South Summit, Mr. Thakuri said.

A team could leave base camp Thursday to retrieve the body, carrying it down the steep, icy Lhotse Face, to Camp II, the advanced base camp at 6,500 meters, next to a glacial valley crisscrossed by crevasses known as Western Cwm.

A helicopter would then fly to Camp II, said Ms. Shah-Klorfine’s brother-in-law, Darren Klorfine.

The body will be flown back to Canada. Ms. Shah-Klorfine was born in Kathmandu and grew up in Mumbai before moving to Toronto with her husband.

In addition to Ms. Shah-Klorfine, others who died Saturday included a German doctor, Eberhard Schaaf, 61, South Korean Song Won-bin, 24, and Ha Wenyi, 55, from China.

Up to 10 people have died on Everest expeditions this season, according to a tally kept by American mountaineer Alan Arnette, who reached the summit last year.

Follow us on Twitter: @TuThanhHa, @renatadaliesio

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