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  Seven Deaths on Everest in 2004, but Why?

Mr. Nils Antezana waving down to us and Big Dorje Sherpa waiting on him ©EverestNews.com

Every year people ask, "why?" Every year, people die on Everest; Why? The reality is that this is a high risk sport where people die every year. Some guides will claim deaths only happen on the other teams, look close and check & you will find they have lost someone on Everest already or they have not been on Everest very long. Of course, most climbers on Everest do not have guides at all, as most climbers are now going on what traditionally have been referred to as "low budget expeditions". Most "commercial expeditions" are unguided on Everest, contrary to what many believe or what is written.

Last year on Everest was somewhat different. There were no deaths at base camp, or accident(s) down low resulting in deaths, usually it is a given that something unforeseen will claim a life at lower altitudes; this being said seven climbers, 5 men and 2 woman died on Everest last year. Six of the climbers were coming back from the summit, and one who kept going up until she died. They all were, it is easy to say now, past "the point" where they should have turned around. The truth be known, there were another 8-12 climbers who had crossed "the Rubicon." Some were dragged down the mountain in a technique used on Everest to save lives that is getting more popular. One super strong Sherpa pulls a man or woman down, literally. The client is then administrated drugs/steroids to keep them alive once down lower. But dragging clients down is another subject for another day. It is keeping the death rate down in recent years.

These six climbers were in various stages and conditions when they summited based on those who claimed knowledge of their conditions. EverestNews.com has learned to be cautious with "those who claim knowledge". In many cases, climbers are just giving opinions and in some cases trying to help, then their words end up as "experts claims". One case of this in 2004, was in the death of Mr. Nils Antezana.

Nils Antezana at 69 became the oldest American and second oldest person to summit Everest. Various people later wrote stories on his death. When we reviewed those stories, we were surprised. You see some of our climbers, was up high filming and looking for Mallory artifacts the day he summited. We viewed our film and in passing, noticed a man in the film waving to our cameraman from above; He was not waving for help, but clearly just saying Hi down there! Several climbers were on the summit with Mr. Nils Antezana, none of them were interviewed for any of the articles to our knowledge except Nils' guide. All "opinions and facts" came from climbers who were at camp 4 and all the way down to base camp, except the 2 Sherpas who were with Nils. The climbers who were not with Nils that day offered opinions on what happened that day.

We went back and reviewed the film and yes it was Mr. Nils Antezana waving. Nils, his "guide" (that is another story), and his 2 Sherpas were the last ones to summit that day. Some would claim he was exhausted and way too late, but when he summited, Mr. Nils Antezana did not appear exhausted and the man we saw in the film was not "exhausted", in fact for a man to wave at our climbers on the north side when he was coming up the south side; well he appeared stronger than most on the summit. Nils summited at a little after 11am in the morning Nepal time that day, certainly slower than many others in the past and certainly faster than many others in the past! As our cameras panned the mountain for clues of Mallory, in other frames you can see, Mr. Nils Antezana, with his hands high over his head in celebration. His guide did not turn him around, nor did Nils turn himself around. Nils had summited the world's highest mountain. He was very happy.

Mr. Nils Antezana died on the way down. Why?? One can only speculate. The only witnesses were the two Sherpas who stayed with him until they almost died. The guide, like some other guides have done before him, went ahead to break the trail....

Interesting the Sherpas were criticized. While it is clear Mr. Nils Antezana asked the Sherpas to stay with him and literally die with him, it is not clear if they could have dragged him all the way down.

We didn't know Nils and never spoke to him, but we he don't think he was a man who would have wanted to be literally dragged down. His family LIKE ANY FAMILY, would have preferred that his life was saved in any way possible. But his life was not saved, no one came to help as is in the case many times on Everest and Nils died. Nils went pass "the point" and paid for it with his life.

So when you read opinions and comments this year, read close to see who was there and has personal knowledge, who is offering an opinion, who is repeating rumors, etc. Most were not actually there, nor do they have personal knowledge of what happened. Many are just trying to help by offering their opinion. Many don't really realize  people will read their opinions. Some try to promote that their "service" is better; we don't have any respect for those that try to use a death for their benefit as some have done in the past.

So why do they die? Climbers die at altitude for many different reasons; to try to figure out one reason "why" is pointless. Is it because they push too far, too hard, too fast, because they become ill, because their body has a bad day, because their budget did not allow them a safer way, because some run out of oxygen & crash hard, sometimes a storm moves in, or simply because accidents happen. The answer to all of this is yes. One could argue that most die because they push too far these days, but certainly not all die for that reason. Mountaineering, especially at altitude, is a very high risk sport. This is a very high risk sport where people die every year. Two other Korean climbers who were up there with Nils died that same day, they hardly even got a mention in the western press. One of them

"It is not a question of IF, it is question of who and how many will die on Everest", EverestNews.com


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