Sherpas walking all night were able to reach the body of a Canadian woman who died on Mount Everest and carry it most of the way down.
The body of Shriya Shah-Klorfine was brought to Camp 2, which can be reached by helicopter. An attempt Monday was scuppered by weather but there are plans to try again Tuesday.
Expedition manager Ganesh Thakuri, who has been spearheading the recovery, said from Nepal that his team brought her from about 7,800 metres down to 6,500. He called it a “very, very hard job.”
“It’s much harder than climbing to do this kind of mission,” he said. “I don’t want to say climbing Everest is easy. It’s very hard. But comparing carrying the body and just climbing Everest, [there’s]a big difference.”
Ms. Shah-Klorfine’s husband, Bruce Klorfine, has arrived in Nepal to receive her remains, which will be cremated there. He could not be reached Monday but others close to the climber were relieved she was coming down.
Bikram Lamba called his friend’s retrieval important to bring “closure” to the incident. “She conquered Mount Everest, but Mount Everest is a cruel opponent and it took her,” he said.
Ms. Shah-Klorfine struggled but reached the summit of Everest last week. She died on the descent. The rest of the team left her where she collapsed, routine practice at the highest and most dangerous parts of the mountain.
“When she was going my wife knitted her a sweater with a Canadian flag on the front,” remembered Mr. Lamba, explaining that he and his wife had a family-like relationship with Ms. Shah-Klorfine, who was orphaned young.
“She was wearing it when she summitted, and when she died ... even now, that sweater is on the body.”
The dangers of retrieving dead climbers means that recovery efforts often are not mounted. Scores of bodies have been left to lie on the mountain, a macabre sight that hikers must pass on their way to the peak. But several of those close to Ms. Shah-Klorfine said the retrieval was crucial because of the importance of cremation in the Hindu faith.
“I’m really happy because I was really worried,” said Priya Ahuja, a friend. “If they don’t do a cremation the soul won’t have peace.”
Mr. Thakuri said he was keen to retrieve her to minimize the mess on the mountain, which is notoriously littered with climbers’ garbage. He said he funded the first retrieval attempt and shared the cost of the second with Ms. Shah-Klorfine’s family, who are said to have insurance.
The recovery came in the nick of time. The ropes and ladders installed every season on the mountain to help people climb will be removed within days. Without them, any recovery effort would have been postponed until the fall.
Retrieving her body came after a series of delays and problems, raising questions about the risks being taken to get her down.
“I know it’s risky but we didn’t force anybody,” Ms. Ahuja said. “We didn’t make them. We said only ‘if it is possible’.”
Sherpas were able to reach the body, which was lying at about 8,300 metres, and brought it down about 500 metres on Saturday. But one Sherpa suffered a long fall and the weather turned against them. They left the body there and went down to Camp 3 to sleep. In the face of continuing bad weather they returned to base camp.
Mr. Thakuri said the Sherpa had not been injured badly. But he struggled Sunday to arrange a fresh team from among the people at base camp All were exhausted from a season of climbing and it would take too long to get rested people to the site. He managed to assemble the crew and they set out as soon as they could.
“They left in the evening time,” he said Monday. “The whole night the team walked to South Col.”