How many bodies are on Mount Everest?
Over the years, Mount Everest has claimed the lives of hundreds of climber, while many others have been injured but survived.
As of the end of the climbing season in 2017, according to the Himalayan Database there has been a total of 288 climbers who have sadly lost their life while on the highest mountain in the world. No one knows exactly how many bodies remain on Mount Everest, but it is thought that there are more than 200.
Why Bodies are Left on Mount Everest
So, why can’t these victims be recovered from the mountain to have a proper burial? Well, it is really for the same reason they died in the first place. Climbing Mount Everest is a two month climb at the very least, even for the most experienced climbers, and rescuers. Most of the dead climbers perished in a section of the mountain referred to as the “death zone”, which is about 26,000 feet high. This area is by far the most dangerous, and where many people meet their fate. Survival is the top priority on this part of the mountain, and margin for error is slim to none. Immediate frost bite will take place, and the lack of oxygen will weaken and subdue the climber’s mental capacity due to the very low oxygen levels.
Therefore, rescuing bodies that have succumbed to the harsh conditions in this area is not worth the risk. Not only that, but hauling down the bodies from the mountain side would not only make a rescue climber’s journey more burdensome, but also a lot more dangerous. Many times, the dead bodies are irretrievable due to where the victims are located. Many people fall into large crevices, or are buried beneath large volumes of rock and snow, making for a virtually impossible rescue attempt. Only a small handful have been brought off the mountain and returned home at the wishes of their family.
The bodies that remain on Mount Everest are literally still frozen in the exact place that they died and many are perfectly preserved due to the icy conditions. Some of the past victims located along the climbing route have even been given nicknames, as they are now common landmarks along the way up.
Famous Bodies on Mount Everest
Probably one of the most famous bodies on the mountain is that of George Mallory. During the 1924 British Mount Everest expedition, Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew “Sandy” Irvine, disappeared while high up on the North-East ridge during their attempt to become the first to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain. The pair were last seen when they were about 800 vertical feet (245m) from the summit.
75 years later the body of Mallory was discovered on the 1st May 1999 by Conrad Anker, a member of the ‘Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition’ that had set out to search for the climbers’ remains.
The team left the frozen body where they found it at 26,760 ft (8,157 m) on the North Face and carefully buried it with small rocks. As of date (2018) the body of Irvine still has not been found.
© Dave Hahn/Getty Images
Another well known body on the slopes of Mount Everest is referred to as ‘green boots’, who was a past climber separated from his party in 1996 and had claimed refuge in a nearby cave that eventually took his life.
His body is now a gauge for all climbers to indicate how near they are to the summit. It may seem a bit morbid, but those that climb up the dangerous and foreboding slopes of Mount Everest, realize that this could be their own fate and they should not take the climb lightly, let alone attempt to carry these bodies down from the mountainside.
In 2014, Green Boots was reported missing, presumably removed or buried. In 2017 as greater number of climbers returned, according to 2-stage hearsays he was noticed again at 8,500 meters altitude and may have been covered with few stones.