x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

US climber describes the deadly congestion on Mount Everest

An American adventurer who helped rescue four climbers from Mount Everest last weekend has told of how a crowded push for the summit and bad weather creates deadly conditions.

KATHMANDU // An American adventurer who helped rescue four climbers from Mount Everest last weekend has told of how a crowded push for the summit and bad weather created deadly conditions for mountaineers.

Jon Kedrowski, 33, who was near the 8,848-metre peak when four people died on Saturday, described how exhausted climbers battled high winds and congested trails in the mountain's "death zone".

"A two-hour wait at one of the choke-points near the summit left climbers caught in these 80mph [130kph] winds," Mr Kedrowski's friend, Chris Tomer, wrote on the expedition's blog post.

"Jon was ascending while other climbers from the previous day who had summited were descending through the choke-point after 18 hours or more on the mountain.

"Cut-off times were ignored and oxygen had run out. Jon (helped) to save four separate climbers."

Those who did not survive have been named as the German national Eberhard Schaaf, 61, the South Korean Song Won-Bin, 44, the Nepali-born Canadian Shriya Shah, 33, and the Chinese climber Ha Wenyi, 55.

The deaths raised fears over chronic overcrowding, with tourism officials expecting another 200 people to head towards the summit from tomorrow.

Mr Tomer, who is not on the expedition but is in regular touch with his climbing partner of 15 years, said Mr Kedrowski described rescuing climbers who were "disoriented, frostbitten, sick, and totally exhausted".

Mr Tomer said the university professor from Colorado was "battling demons but has recovered physically" and would attempt the summit from base camp in a four-man team on a "speed ascent" tomorrow and on Saturday.

"The four of them are fast, fit and highly motivated. Their plan is to skip a couple of the higher camps and push directly to the summit quickly to hit the weather window," Mr Tomer said.