June 1, 2010

"Peter Kinloch, 28... appeared 'elated, cheery and bubbly' as he posed for photographs on the summit" of Mount Everest....

"... but lost his sight and stumbled and slipped on the descent. Progress became painfully slow. Three sherpas administered drugs and oxygen over a 12 hour period attempted to coax him down the mountain but finally had to abandon him at an altitude of 8,600 metres as the weather closed in."

68 comments:

EDH said...

Google should have warned him.

AJ Lynch said...

EDH made me laugh. Yes, Google is evil like Palladian. You need an "extreme sports" tag Althouse.

Skyler said...

You'd think by now they would have built some structures up there.

There's no excuse to have no havens after thousands of people have gone up there. When going to Everest was new it was excusable to leave people up there to die. Now that climbing it has become a cottage industry, the humane, civilized thing to do is to conquer it for real. Put in shelters and even hand rails or bridges where feasible.

It is unconscionable to run a business that regualarly abandons people to die.

LarsPorsena said...

"Now that climbing it has become a cottage industry, the humane, civilized thing to do is to conquer it for real. Put in shelters and even hand rails or bridges where feasible."

Yep, and some steps and maybe an escalator.

Fred4Pres said...

Good thing they have tort reform in Nepal and China.

Skyler said...

Lars wrote: Yep, and some steps and maybe an escalator.

Yes. Why not?

Russ said...

The air is truly too thin, and the weather too extreme to put in shelters/havens, or even to retrieve the bodies of those climbers who have perished.

Skyler said...

And pipe up some oxygen.

AllenS said...

Once the glaciers melt and we have continuous global warming, there'll be no need for cottages on Mount Everest.

Skyler said...

The air is truly too thin, and the weather too extreme to put in shelters/havens, or even to retrieve the bodies of those climbers who have perished.

Rubbish.

Steve in Toronto said...

It is a small comfort that he did not take any of his Sherpa guides with him. On the other hand do his guides do bear at least some of the responsibly for letting someone who (at least retrospectively) was unprepared take such an incredible risk?

c3 said...

I see we have the "age/experience/happiness" theme going today. Well as tragic as this case is we can now conclude:
1) He'll never be happy
2) If he had taken a job first instead of pursuing college and post-graduate it all might have ended better.

Alex said...

Even attempting Everest is an epic endeavor. At least the man died happy.

k*thy said...

Skyler, there already is quite a bit of structure (handrails, ropes and 'bridges') on the climb up and down Everest (more so, than I think is necessary for this particular activity).

AJ Lynch said...

Skyler said:

"Rubbish"

Speaking of which, these high mountains are littered with discarded oxygen bottles and all kinds of trash left behind over the last 80 years by previous mountaineers.

In fact, there are many bodies up there as well. They found that famous guy, George Mallory, almost 60 years after he perished up there. It's so cold up there, the bodies don't decompose much.

tim maguire said...

If they put in an escalator, I'll go.

I really don't see the point anymore. What are these people proving? Children are going to the top, the handicapped are going to the top. Climbing Everest has long since passed into the "ehh...so what?" stage.

Skyler said...

At least the man died happy.

More rubbish. He was happy at the top, but I seriously doubt he was happy as he realized he wasn't going to survive.

Paul said...

Of course the structures should have hot tubs, a wine bar, and TV screens with CNN 24-7.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I'm tired of stories about dead climbers on Everest. Let's have some stories about dead construction workers on Everest!

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Ah, summit fever. I have abandoned several climbs in the Andes at somewhere around 5500 metres because I quite simply did not like how the weather looked. I bailed before it got bad, but perhaps as a farmer I have a keener weather eye than most folks. I'm still here in my 60s to write about it.

Old pilots. Bold pilots. Etcetera.

WV = grapa

I luvva de grappa ...

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

It must be a "guy thing".

I see absolutely no point in climbing to the top of Everest or to the top of any mountain for that matter.

If you want to see what is up there, for some inexplicable reason, fly over it in a plane.

There is no reason you need to go there. And especially no reason that you need to put other people, in addition to yourself, in mortal danger. It is all about a selfish thrill seeking that accomplishes NOTHING of any value.

If you want to commit suicide or have a big thrill, jump off of a skyscraper (notifying the people below so you don't squash someone in your landing). Better yet. Jump off of the Gold Gate Bridge. At least your useless corpse will be recycled by decomposition and feed the fish. At least THAT would be useful.

JAL said...

For all the criticism of John Krakauer, if you read Into Thin Air you will have many misconceptions dispelled. (Skyler -- your comments seem a bit out of character!)

My husband and I listened to it on a road trip and concluded these people (the extreme climbers) are crazy.

The chances of dying while climbing Everest are actually relatively high.

But besides that ... even though this guy was well trained, he obviously was withholding some info about his physical condition in that he denied this was snow blindness and had experienced it before (!?)

What?

rhhardin said...

There's 46 peaks in the Adirondacks over 4,000 feet, and you get a badge for climbing them all.

They all have lots of oxygen.

Tedium would be your only enemy.

Original Mike said...

"If you want to see what is up there ..."

It's not about seeing what's up there. It's about the challenge of hauling your ass up there yourself.

JAL said...

Shouldn't there be a "DWDWHL" tag?

{Dying While Doing What He Loved}

Seems to me this theme has been here before ...

Paul Zrimsek said...

I wonder what DBQ would think of these foolhardy daredevils.

LordSomber said...

Someone left a banana peel on top of Mt. Everest.

Big Mike said...

In his gripping book Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer emphasizes that the goal of the climbers is supposed to be to reach the summit and get down alive.

Even with bottled oxygen, at that altitude your brain cells are dying by the thousands every second.

If you want to see the view from 29,000 feet without risking your life then get the window seat on your next flight.

BTW, Skyler, unless you meant "rubbish" in the sense that their dead bodies are now only so much rubbish (at that altitude you're not even decent worm food because there aren't any worms or even bacteria crazy enough to try to live there) then you're simply wrong. No one should have to risk their lives to retrieve dead bodies from such an extreme environment.

@Bart, one the more interesting vignettes in Krakauer's book involves a group of the most experienced mountaineers on the climb during the day of the disaster that Krakauer writes about. Something just didn't feel right, so they unclipped and bailed. It saved their lives.

Skyler said...

JAL, it's not out of character at all. The mountain has been conquered. Now it's time to tame it.

In aviation they do dangerous things all the time, but when you know what you're facing and plan for it properly, you can do it again.

This reminds me of the race to the south pole. The team that planned and knew what they were doing got there and back first and with no losses or troubles. The team of Americans didn't know what they were doing and a lot of them died. They get remembered for their tragedy. I don't respect them for being idiots.

I don't respect people who climb mountains that are well traveled and don't prepare properly. Preparing means building shelters, having rescue teams, etc. There is no reason to go if you don't have the sense to do it well. It doesn't make you manly, it makes you an idiot.

edutcher said...

I've read about some of the people who've tried to get up there. They think it's a kind of stunt, not something that can very easily get you killed.

I have a feeling Sir Edmund (not named after Rodham) and Tenzing are spinning.

AJ Lynch said...

Skyler:
Most of these teams are accompanied by several groups of sherpa guides. The weather is the challenge - up there it changes devastingly fast.

I read Into Thin Air and a few others like it [Krakauer is one of my favorite writers]. As someone above said, that book is excellent and it also paints a picture of how money & extreme wealth has corrupted this extreme sport.

AllenS said...

Looking around, I found this--

Corpses remaining on Everest:
about 120

Big Mike said...

@Skyler, point of information. The team that arrived 2nd to the South Pole -- and lost their lives getting back -- were Brits, not Americans.

You can read about it here. (But order through Althouse's link to Amazon.com.)

AJ Lynch said...

AllenS :

The president called to ask why we have so many of our military corpse stationed on a mountain. Heh.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It's not about seeing what's up there. It's about the challenge of hauling your ass up there yourself.

That's what I said.

It is about selfish ego gratification and epeen stroking.

Original Mike said...

These are the same people who would squish your bug for you, DBQ, so show them a little empathy.

bagoh20 said...

We all got to go and there are many, many worse ways to go, which most of use will choose consciously or not. In the end, being careful is futile.

Michael said...

The idea of some refuge at high altitude is intriguing. I expect that the availability of rock and labor is the challenge. Anything less than a rock hut would not survive the winds. As to bridges I believe that the principal obstacle is the fact that where bridges would be useful the ice is in constant motion and would destroy them as soon as they were built. It sounds as though in the instant case the guy was overcome by altitude more than exposure.

I think mountains, like big waves, are "conquered" by climbers one at a time and cannot be "conquered" absolutely. The romance of the enterprise will always trump the practical.

Joan said...

What JAL said -- when Kinloch lost his sight, he denied it was summit fever or snow blindness. He was not surprised it was happening, and said it had happened before in non-climbing situations:

One team member said: “Peter seemed unsurprised about his blindness and explained that it had happened before although never in mountain conditions. Peter was perfectly coherent at this time and calmly explained that the condition was not snow blindness as he had no pain and he recognised the blindness from a previous episode.”

Kinloch had already completed climbs of four mountains of the seven-summit challenge. He was apparently fit and experienced -- and had some underlying condition that manifested at the summit, and killed him.

28 years old, by all accounts a good guy -- what was he thinking, going up mountains with a neuro problem lurking? 28 is well past the age where we can blame the foolishness of youth, isn't it?

Salamandyr said...

DBQ,

If it weren't for the people who want to climb a mountain just because it's there; we wouldn't have the airplanes to fly over it.

Man is foolhardy, but that foolhardiness also leads to progress.

Original Mike said...

"The idea of some refuge at high altitude is intriguing. I expect that the availability of rock and labor is the challenge."

I think it wouldn't help in the majority of cases. It's the low atmospheric pressure that does so many people in.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

These are the same people who would squish your bug for you, DBQ, so show them a little empathy.

LoL. My bugs to be squished aren't at the top of a mountain where there is no air and the temperatures are sub zero.

@ Salamandyr

Look. I'm not saying that people shouldn't climb the mountain if they want to. Climb away....just don't pretend it is for some noble purpose or that the idiot who died up there is some sort of hero. There IS no purpose to climbing to the top of the mountian.

Admit it. It is all about ego and epeen. There is nothing wrong with that.

AND....don't drag other people into your ego driven, death wish adventure. We see this every freaking year on the mountains surrounding where I live. Dopes from someplace else come up and decide to climb in the middle of the winter or during stormy weather...get lost...get stuck...get injured. Then the search and rescue people have to risk their own lives in snow storms or high winds to try to save these morons and pull their sorry asses off of the glaciers.

AND then the tax payer gets to pay for their selfish idiocy.

Original Mike said...

"LoL. My bugs to be squished aren't at the top of a mountain where there is no air and the temperatures are sub zero."

But, after Sir Galahad squishes your bugs, shouldn't he be allowed to play? If you keep him in a cage, he will whither.

Regarding search and rescue; no kidding. But in that sense, the Everest ethic seems to be, "you walked up here, you're on your own to walk back down. And don't think we're hauling your corpse back, either"). Members of your party (and maybe other's on the mountain) tend to feel an obligation to do what they can, but there are no park rangers with helicopters to come to your rescue.

AJ Lynch said...

Joan;

Oxygen deprivation on mountains affects people in different ways. I suspect that is what Kinloch was experiencing and he may have suffered the same on prior climbs. In this, his last climb. it was the most severe ever and caused his death.

Eric said...

Speaking of which, these high mountains are littered with discarded oxygen bottles and all kinds of trash left behind over the last 80 years by previous mountaineers.

For me this would seriously detract from the experience. Not only would all that crap detract from the scenery, but it would be a constant reminder there's nothing special anymore about what you're doing.

Original Mike said...

"For me this would seriously detract from the experience. Not only would all that crap detract from the scenery, but it would be a constant reminder there's nothing special anymore about what you're doing."

Your oxygen starved brain probably wouldn't care (just trying to look on the bright side).

Ken Pidcock said...

My sister-in-law and her husband were alpine climbers for a while. When we stayed in their place once, I read Into Thin Air and a couple other books in the genre. While I can understand the attraction of climbing in general - these folks get to witness some amazing vistas that I will never see - I've never understood the really extreme climbers. For all their eloquence about challenges and confronting human limits, they just remind me of the Jeff Foxworthy joke. You might be a redneck if your father's last words were "Check this out."

Fred4Pres said...

At least Kinloch did not drink himself to death.

Or did he?

Skyler said...

Maybe I should start a business in the Himalayas, laying out a weather-resistant oxygen line to numerous stations along the top. People can purchase a special key to carry that they can use as insurance if they need it. The technology isn't rocket science, though it is quite a challenge.

That would be a challenge I would take. Just climbing the mountain is for pretenders when you are paying teams of Sherpas to get you there. I wouldn't climb it unless I was going to do something to make it better. And profitable.

And while I was at it, I could pipe up natural gas to use as fuel for way stations.

If you're going to run a business that puts people in danger, there is a responsibility to rescue. You can't rescue everyone, and there will be accidents. These are tragic. But running a business and leaving people to die is inhuman.

Eric said...

If it weren't for the people who want to climb a mountain just because it's there; we wouldn't have the airplanes to fly over it.

You mean if it weren't for the people who want a better way to kill their neighbors. The Wright brothers developed their airplane to sell to the army. Virtually every advance in aviation was originated by or for a military.

Skyler said...

That is a scandalous lie about the Wright brothers.

Eric said...

Maybe I should start a business in the Himalayas, laying out a weather-resistant oxygen line to numerous stations along the top.

I was thinking an insulated aluminum pressure hut at the final camp before the ascent. It would be a bitch to get up there, but these people are spending something like $100k already. Another $10k of insurance would sell. I like your idea of selling a key.

Skyler said...

I was thinking an insulated aluminum pressure hut at the final camp before the ascent.

Sure, but why not a cement bunker on the top with oxygen piped up to it and regular oxygen piped up along the way? It would take quite a bit to build it, but if you build enough way stations, it's clearly possible.

Eric said...

Sure, but why not a cement bunker on the top with oxygen piped up to it and regular oxygen piped up along the way? It would take quite a bit to build it, but if you build enough way stations, it's clearly possible.

Because I could get it up there in one go by dropping the thing out of an aircraft and using JPADS to make sure it lands in the right spot.

And there's no need to pipe in the oxygen if you pressurize the hut. The oxygen is there it's just not concentrated enough.

prairie wind said...

Somebody explain why we don't know the names of "the Sherpas". These people climb Everest while hauling gear for someone else...and they do it multiple times. Tenzing Norgay is the only Sherpa whose name is generally know. (Or maybe everyone else knows more, but that's the only one I know.)

JAL said...

@ prairie wind
Read / listen to Into Thin Air

Blame the MSM for the lack of names. The Sherpas have names and stories in ITA.

@ Sklyer
Read / listen to Into Thin Air

There's a lot more to it. It's not like climbing Half Dome where you can sink hand cables into the rock. Where they can, they have.

Some of the people who died in the horrendous summer of 1996 were the expert guides. (Some think the storm was a freak and dropped the O2 even more than usual.)

Approximately 2700 individuals have climbed Everest. Some multiple times.(Ascents are more than 4000.)

It's letting 13 year old boys attempt it that blows my mind.

prairie wind said...

JAL, Into Thin Air is a great story, I agree. And you're right--Krakauer provides names.

When we count the number of people who make the ascent, do we count "the Sherpas"?

Thirteen-year-olds, blind guys, handicapped...yeah, it's gotten crazy.

Daniel Fielding said...

RIP, Mr Kinloch.

Dust Bunny Queen- you seem to want humankind to become a species of cowards- a bunch of effeminate metrosexuals, where guys are unable to do anything else, but to obey their wife's/GF's/same-sex spouse's orders.
Yah, you disgust me.

Skyler said...

A little over-the-top, Daniel?

Original Mike said...

Daniel doesn't know DBQ, does he?

You guys know your plans for shelters and piped in gas are looney tunes, right?

Daniel Fielding said...

Skylar Original mike: My response to DBQ came as a result of her 2 previous comnets, wherein, she proved that she had no sense of adventure, nor an ounce of courage within herself, and then she proceeded to knock all men who dared to do anything different.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

Dust Bunny Queen- you seem to want humankind to become a species of cowards- a bunch of effeminate metrosexuals, where guys are unable to do anything else, but to obey their wife's/GF's/same-sex spouse's orders.
Yah, you disgust me.


Ha ha ha ha.

He don't know me very well...do he?

:-D

VW: climbihoo

even more lol

Daniel Fielding said...

DustBunnyQueen- all i know about yu is from the 2 comments you made on this thread, insulting a mountain climber who dared to dream, and unfortunately died.

Skyler said...

You guys know your plans for shelters and piped in gas are looney tunes, right?

I think the guy who proposed laying communication cables under the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was considered looney too. That seems a lot harder than a series of way stations on a mountain.

It really just comes down to money. We have the technology.

Kev said...

It's letting 13 year old boys attempt it that blows my mind.

The first thought that came to me after reading this story was that, while it's extremely sad that Kinloch perished in this manner, I'm really glad that fate didn't befall Jordan Romero (the 13-year-old in question) a few weeks ago.

BEXism said...

Lets pay poor people from Nepal to build shelters and die in the effort; so rich western egotists can have better chances of living. Not to denigrate the life, the tragedy, or his person etc but Peter Kinloch should have know the risks am I sure he accepted them. The industry of summiting Everest is contributing to the trashing of this beautiful place in the world. It should be cleaned up and left to those who bring everything out with them unless they fail on the way. The beauty of being in the WILD is that it is WILD and if you want to push it to the extreme there are consequences to be had. However, making the places LESS WILD should not be one of them.