Under Pressure, Everest Guides Will Risk Lives to Recover Body

The rescuers are being given a '50/50 chance of survival'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2017 1:27 PM CDT
'50/50 Chance of Survival' for Risky Everest Recovery Mission
In this Feb. 18, 2016 file photo, Mount Everest, center, and Mount Lhotse, right, are seen from Tengboche, Nepal.   (AP Photo/Tashi Sherpa,File)

Ravi Kumar went missing on Everest last Saturday. Now, the Kathmandu Post reports climbing guides are planning the "most challenging, expensive, and longest" Everest mission ever to recover the 27-year-old Indian climber's body. The expedition will require at least 10 guides, 40 oxygen cylinders, and four days in good weather. Kumar's body was found in a crevasse near the summit. It's possible rescuers will have to chip it out of the ice, increasing avalanche risk. According to Outside, the mission "seems almost beyond the realm of human capability." Guides must nearly summit Everest, descend into a crevasse, lift a frozen body laden with gear, and descend to a camp accessible by helicopters—all at an elevation known as the "Death Zone," where life can't be sustained for long and it's impossible for one person to lift or drag another.

The president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association gives rescuers a "50/50 chance of survival." And Outside states the mission is a mistake, with the rescuers themselves seemingly hesitant to undertake it. So why is it likely to happen when other bodies in similar situations have been left behind? The director of the agency behind Kumar's expedition says his family "wants the body at any cost." The Indian government is also pushing hard for the mission, and the Nepalese government doesn't want to risk the millions of dollars in aid it receives from India. The Indian government has been asked to fund the mission, which could cost up to $70,000. The Washington Post reports Kumar was one of three climbers, including an American, to die on Everest last weekend. (Read more Mount Everest stories.)

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