Three mountaineers have been confirmed dead, and two are still missing from an expedition on Mount Everest. The three dead all perished as they were making their way back down the mountain, but search teams remain hopeful that the two missing will still be found alive.
Ebehard Schaaf, 61, of Germany; Sriya Shah, 33 of Napal; and Song Wondin, 44, of South Korea all died as they descended the famous mountain, officials confirmed. "Schaaf died at the South Summit of Sagarmatha due to altitude sickness," Ang Tshering Sherpa, head of the company that organized the expedition told Reuters.
Right now Schaaf's body is still on the mountain, and Sherpa explained, "If the family wants the body to be brought down we will try, but it is very difficult to do so from that altitude."
While an official cause of death has not been released to the public, Sherpa has told the American Foreign Press, "Many of these deaths occur due to high altitude sickness. Climbers spend their energy on the ascent and they are exhausted and fatigued on the descent."
Two others from the expedition are feared missing, one from China and one from Nepal. Sherpa has not been able to verify whether the two mountaineers are actually missing or simply got separated from the rest of the group. With three dead, though, the odds of finding them alive are not good.
"There was a traffic jam on the mountain on Saturday. Climbers were still heading to the summit as late as 2:30 p.m., which is quite dangerous," Gyanendra Shrestha of Nepal's Mountaineering Department told the Associated Press.
"With the traffic jam, climbers had longer wait for their chance to go up the trail and spent too much time at higher altitude. Many of them are believed to be carrying limited amount of oxygen, not anticipating the extra time spent," Shrestha explained.
Mount Everest is known for its brutality, and the weather this weekend was even worse, with high winds that slowed down expeditions and caused climbers to use the south side of the mountain instead of its north side, which is slightly easier. The three deaths over the weekend bring the death toll to five over the course of the climbing season, which lasts from March 1 to May 31.