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Body of Canadian Everest climber taken off mountain by helicopter

Shriya Shah-Klorfine, foreground, of Toronto, is shown at the summit of Mount Everest on May 19, 2012. She died while returning from the summit.

Utmost Adventure Trekking Pvt. Ltd./The Canadian Press/Utmost Adventure Trekking Pvt. Ltd./The Canadian Press

The body of a Canadian woman who died on Mount Everest was returned to her family Tuesday after a repeatedly-delayed recovery effort.

The remains of Shriya Shah-Klorfine were plucked by helicopter from one of the low camps on the mountain and flown to Kathmandu, where her husband was waiting.

Ganesh Thakuri, the Utmost Adventure Trekking expedition manager who has been spearheading the recovery, said that a brief weather window allowed the aircraft to reach camp 2, which sits at about 6,500 metres.

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"The helicopter went ... in the morning and brought the body down," he said from Nepal Tuesday. "We took [the]body to hospital and handed to [her] family."

The body had earlier been brought from 7,800 metres down to camp 2 in a marathon effort by a trio of Sherpas. Its arrival in Kathmandu caps a week of tragedy and waiting for Ms. Shah-Klorfine's family and friends.

Several of those close to Ms. Shah-Klorfine said the retrieval was crucial because of the importance of cremation in the Hindu faith.

"If they don't do a cremation the soul won't have peace," Priya Ahuja, a friend, explained earlier.

The dead climber was born in Kathmandu, raised in Mumbai and lived most recently in Toronto. Her husband, Bruce Klorfine, came to Nepal to receive her remains, which were to be cremated there. He could not be reached since his arrival.

Ms. Shah-Klorfine struggled but reached the summit of Everest last week. Her death, on the descent, is being blamed on altitude and exhaustion. 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," Bikram Lamba recalled Monday. He described a family-like relationship between him, his wife and Ms. Shah-Klorfine, who was orphaned young. "She was wearing it when she summitted, and when she died."

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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.

Retrieving Ms. Shah-Klorfine's body came after a series of delays and problems, raising questions about the dangers being borne 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'."

Mr. Thakuri 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.

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About the Author

Oliver Moore joined the Globe and Mail's web newsroom in 2000 as an editor and then moved into reporting. A native Torontonian, he served four years as Atlantic Bureau Chief and has worked also in Afghanistan, Grenada, France, Spain and the United States. More

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