Everest death toll rises

KATMANDU, Nepal – Climbers have reported seeing another body on Mount Everest, raising the death toll to four for one of the worst days ever on the world’s highest mountain.

Nepali mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha said Tuesday that the body of Chinese climber Ha Wenyi was spotted not far from where three other climbers died. They were part of what was a “traffic jam” by Everest standards – an estimated 150 climbers who rushed to use a brief window of good weather to try to reach the top Friday and Saturday.

Wenyi and the other victims – German doctor Eberhard Schaaf, Nepal-born Canadian Shriya Shah and South Korean mountaineer Song Won-bin – died Saturday on their way down from the 35,035-foot summit. They are believed to have suffered exhaustion and altitude sickness, Shrestha said.

Shrestha says a Nepalese Sherpa guide who had been reported missing is safe and has reached the base camp. Shrestha says the guide was separated from his group and did not have communications equipment.

The latest deaths have raised concerns about overcrowding in the “death zone” at the top of the world’s tallest peak. Many of those who headed to the summit over the weekend had waited at a staging camp for several days for the weather to improve enough to attempt the climb.

“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,” Shrestha said.

Climbers normally are advised not to try for the summit after 11 a.m. The area above the last camp at the South Col is nicknamed the “death zone” because of the steep icy slope, treacherous conditions and low oxygen level.