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The recent deaths of eight climbers on Mount Everest - the worst single loss of life ever to occur on the mountain - has raised questions about exactly who belongs on expeditions, especially in the high altitude regions so aptly called the Death Zone.
To recap the tragedy, which has been on the minds of the expedition community for the past few weeks, approximately 30 climbers from five expeditions reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 10. During descent, a sudden and ferocious blizzard lashed the climbers with snow and 70 mile per hour winds. Temperatures dropped as low as minus 40 degrees F., visibility was zero, and the windchill plunged into the triple digits.
Five people died between the summit and the rock-strewn South Col, while three others perished in the same storm on the Northeast Ridge. The eight fatalities are: Rob Hall, 35, guide and leader of the New Zealand Expedition; postal worker Douglas Hansen, 46, of Renton, Wash. and client of Hall's who died in the same snow hole at 28,000 feet.
Also dead are American guide Scott Fischer, 40, of Seattle, dubbed "Mr. Rescue" because of the many lives he's saved on previous expeditions; experienced Japanese climber Yasuko Namba, 47, the second Japanese woman to scale Everest; Andrew Harris, 31, a guide for Rob Hall, who disappeared into a whiteout; and three members of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) - Tsewang Paljor, 28, Dorje Morup, 48, and 38-year-old T. Samanla. A Taiwanese climber, Chen Yu-Nan, 35, became the ninth fatality when he died in a fall the day before.
PHOTOGRAPHER MISSING FROM SO. AFRICAN SUMMIT TEAM
Three members of the South African Everest Expedition summited on May 25 with three Nepali Sherpas. Team leader Ian Woodall, 39, and Cathy O'Dowd, 27, reached the peak, along with photographer Bruce Herrod, 37, according to Johannesburg's independent Radio 702. Sadly, reports indicate Herrod disappeared while descending in the dark and is presumed dead.
IMAX FILM CREW RECORDS THE BIG PICTURE
David Breashears and the Everest Film Science Expedition reached the summit with a specially-insulated 35-lb. IMAX film camera on May 23 under clear and calm skies.
On May 10, French climber Chantal Mauduit became the first woman to summit Lhotse. At 27,940 feet, the Himalayan peak is fourth tallest in the world. She reached the summit alone and without oxygen.
Novice Explorers Reach Magnetic North Pole
A team of 10 novice explorers led by British polar veteran David Hempleman-Adams reached the magnetic North Pole May 15.
Fossett Sails Pacific in Record Time
Chicago yachtsman, balloonist, and securities dealer Steve Fossett sailed across the Pacific Ocean from east to west in 19 days, 15 hours, breaking a 143-year-old record.
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