Paying the ultimate price on Mt Everest
- Three deaths in as many days on Mt Everest on Nepal side last weekend
- Mountain reopened after last year's earthquake
- Lower-cost climbing boom re-ignites safety fears
KATHMANDU/NEW DELHI: On his way down from the top of Mt Everest, Indian mountaineer Nava Kumar Phukon saw the woman sway from side to side - a classic sign of severe mountain sickness - as snow and fog reduced visibility to less than 10 feet (3 metres).
Phukon's sherpa guide later told him the woman was 34-year old Australian Maria Strydom, who died last Saturday on the high slopes of Mt Everest after making a failed push for the summit.
"The sherpa who was trying to help her told me: 'She is going to die'," Phukon said after returning to Kathmandu from his own exhausting but successful summit bid.
"I did not have any extra oxygen, clothes or food, not even water to offer to her," Phukon said. "I was so weak myself."
"People can just sign up like it's tourism," he said. "There are a lot of people who still have a valid permit from 2015 and didn't show up this year. I think next year is going to be extremely busy."