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Author Topic: May 16: Japanese climber dies after summiting  (Read 4560 times)

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May 16: Japanese climber dies after summiting
« on: May 17 2007, 03:30 »

This was posted on a Japanese newspaper:
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Man dies after reaching summit of Mount Everest

05/16/2007
From The Asahi Shimbun

A 62-year-old man from Tokyo died Tuesday shortly after reaching the summit of Mount Everest on a tour run by a Japanese travel agency, organizers said.

It was the second death on the world's highest peak of a member of a tour organized by Tokyo-based Adventure Guides Co.

According to the travel agency, YoMrHankyomi Okura, the party leader, phoned Tuesday morning from Nepal saying the group had scaled the 8,848-meter mountain from the Chinese side.

The man collapsed after taking a few steps on the descent.

A Nepalese Sherpa gave the man a heart massage but he died. His body was buried in the snow near the peak as a temporary measure.

The man had mountain-climbing experience and passed a health check before leaving on the tour. He did not have any chronic disease.

It was his third challenge to conquer the mountain. He had reached the 8,300-meter final camp of Mount Everest on two previous occasions.

In 2003, he scaled the 8,201-meter Cho Oyu, the world's sixth highest mountain, on the border of Tibet and Nepal.

Adventure Guides organized Japan's first full-scale commercial tour to Mount Everest in 2004.

In May that year, a 63-year-old woman from Hiroshima Prefecture on the company's tour died while descending the mountain after reaching the summit.

According to Shigeru Masuyama of the Japanese Society of Mountain Medicine (JSMM), the cause of the man's death was apparently not altitude illness.

Sudden deaths at lower altitudes are usually caused by cardiac disease, but various factors must be taken into account at high altitudes where the air is thin, such as cerebral problems, Masuyama said.

The amount of oxygen at the top of Mount Everest is one-third of that at sea level. Climbers conventionally have taken nearly a month to acclimate to the high altitudes before trekking to the top of the mountain.

However, commercial tours, which often include many middle-aged and older people, tend to make the ascent right away by relying on bottled oxygen, rather than spending time and energy adapting to the harsher environment.

The plan for the party the man was on was to use bottled oxygen and reach the summit within three days of leaving the first camp, which is about 7,000 meters above sea level. It is not clear if this plan contributed to the man's death.

In last year's meeting of the JSMM, some experts expressed skepticism about tour groups' reliance on bottled oxygen.

Commercial climbing tours have grown in popularity around the world, particularly for treks up Mount Everest. In Japan, the tours cost about 6 million yen (about $50,000) and have attracted middle-aged climbers and senior citizens.(IHT/Asahi: May 16,2007)
"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche
 

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