Two foreign climbers have become the first to die on Mount Everest since 2019. Expedition organizers say Puwel Lui, a 55-year-old American national, reached the Hillary Step outcrop below the summit but had to turn back due to snow blindness and exhaustion, AFP reports. He was helped back to Camp 4 but died Wednesday evening. Swiss climber Abdul Waraich, 41, died Wednesday after reaching the summit. "Abdul successfully reached the summit but began experiencing issues during his descent," says Chhang Dawa of Seven Summit Treks, per the AP .
"We sent two additional Sherpas with oxygen and food. Unfortunately, the Sherpas couldn’t save him," Dawa says. The bodies are still on the mountain and it's not clear when they will be retrieved. May is the busiest climbing month on Everest and Nepal has issued a record 408 permits this year, but bad weather has now forced climbers to descend to lower altitudes. Climbing season was canceled last year due to the pandemic. This year, climbing has been allowed to continue despite reports of a COVID outbreak at Everest Base Camp. (China, which is not allowing foreign climbers on its side of the mountain, is planning a "line of separation" at the summit.)