May 23, 2016

Yes, one of the things people can do is die.

"Woman trying to prove ‘vegans can do anything’ among three dead on Everest. Two more missing and thirty sick or frostbitten."

There's nothing to cry or smirk about.

63 comments:

Crimso said...

It's one thing to climb a mountain. Dangerous, foolish, waste of time and money. But if that's what you want to do with your time and money, oh well.

Climbing Everest (and a few other peaks) is quite another thing. It's about like playing Russian roulette, which most people would consider you crazy if you did.

Rae said...

The thing is, more people are dying every year. Their reach exceeds their grasp. Or some poor Sherpa dies for some Westerners stupidity.

Ann Althouse said...

"Or some poor Sherpa..."

Are the Sherpas not doing it for the money?

damikesc said...

“It seems that people have this warped idea of vegans being malnourished and weak,” Strydom said in an interview on Monash’s blog. “By climbing the seven summits we want to prove that vegans can do anything and more.”

Seems that the critics were correct.

BTW, it's really creepy to think about all of the preserved dead bodies on the way up the mountain (they serve as landmarks in some cases).

damikesc said...

Are the Sherpas not doing it for the money?

For LOTS of money in that country.

Climbers just need to remember that there is a decent chance they will die and an even better chance that if they die, nobody can bring them down. If they get injured, they will likely end up dying up there.

MisterBuddwing said...

Seems that the critics were correct.

Doesn't explain the other deaths and injuries.

Or to put it another way: If she hadn't been vegan, she would have survived altitude sickness?

Oso Negro said...

Yes, the international climbing community prefers to leave their dead where they lay. It is apparently a part of their special ethos.

rehajm said...

There's so many climbers on Everest it's no longer man vs. nature but man vs. man, like risking death from being stuck in commuter traffic.

damikesc said...

Or to put it another way: If she hadn't been vegan, she would have survived altitude sickness?

The odds aren't great either way. But since no vegan has apparently made it, there is no track record of their bodies being able to pull it off.

Yes, the international climbing community prefers to leave their dead where they lay. It is apparently a part of their special ethos.

I always read that it was physically impossible to do much. You can't take them down from that height as you are basically dying as well. Helicopters can't get up there. They are left because nobody can save them. Stories abound of people asking others not to leave them but they have no choice. If they stay, ALL will die.

Man isn't meant to be up there.

There's so many climbers on Everest it's no longer man vs. nature but man vs. man, like risking death from being stuck in commuter traffic.

To a point. After the highest camp, there are massive risks involved. Weather can change really quickly and you can lost visibility nearly immediately. Altitude sickness doesn't help with decision making. There is a well known path to the top and most make it --- but the death rate is still high enough where the risk is very real. Especially if the weather isn't nice or anything unexpected occurs.

knox said...

Yes, the international climbing community prefers to leave their dead where they lay. It is apparently a part of their special ethos.

Nah, it's just impossible to bring the bodies down.

I do agree the whole exercise is more than a little narcissistic. Anyone who hasn't read "Into Thin Air" yet, should. It's great, but heartbreaking.

Bob Boyd said...

I've never heard vegans are weak and can't do things meat-eaters can do.
I've heard they proselytize, but haven't experienced it.
An Everest climb is a very expensive proposition. Maybe the vegan thing was an angle to get some sponsorship and maybe make some money afterward if she succeeded.
I respect her courage and commitment.

PB said...

Mt Everest is 29,029' high. Jets cruise not far above that altitude, some below that. In pressurized cabins. Even with oxygen it's a highly risky and costly endeavor. After it was first achieved, it merely became an exercise in narcissism, leaving dead bodies and much litter on the mountain and at the various camps along the way.

Michael McClain said...

It would seem that, on average, our modern life is too safe and sheltered for many people. We no longer struggle to survive against a hostile environment where death awaits around every corner. Thus, the urge to bring danger into the equation and escape the encapsulated existence.

That said, I'm glad I'm typing this in my air-conditioned home with a large cup of coffee at my side. I don't disapprove, but I do understand.

Bay Area Guy said...

There may be no need to smirk or cry, but we can certainly evaluate:

This couple was terribly misguided and naive about what they were doing. Nobody "dared" an oppressed Vegan to climb Everest. They chose to do this, for very bizarre reasons - to prove something to somebody. But sadly they were gravely mistaken.

And, Yes, I still think a Vegan diet is unhealthy.

Eustace Chilke said...

She made a point of saying the climb was a vegan thing and she died. We all know vegans suck and this just proves it. But 10% of everyone who goes up there dies as well. I remember a long string of the first this and the first that making news by climbing Everest. If they die it means that whatever sort of person they represent as the first whatever to climb Everest must therefore suck. Or if they succeed then that sort of person must be excellent in all their aspects. Or maybe climbing Everest is dangerous for everyone and vegans still suck.

JCCamp said...

My personal opinion is that those persons who claim to be climbing mountains (or riding bicycles cross country, or whatever) for a cause, are really just narcissists & it's all about them. They soak up resources while claiming to be raising 'awareness", and so forth. It's too bad this lady perished, but there is a certain irony (if not black humor).

And at least some of those who end up struggling on Everest could be saved, but only if the erstwhile saviors were willing to sacrifice their own attempts to summit, which the ethic in place says they don't do. So the sick/injured are left to die.

And I would think there is a difference between those able and capable of serious and knowledgeable climbing, and those poseurs doing some packaged "Climb Everest" butch tour. Next stop, maybe shoot a tiger, or walk on the South Side of Chicago while packing and try to get robbed.

Paddy O said...

I have a friend who is on that mountain right now. Didn't know about the deaths until this post.

He was posting updates on Facebook, and his company has also been posting updates.

It sounds like there was a quick change in the weather. It was bad, the forecast said it was going to be good, teams advanced, then it got bad again. He is working as a guide for the expedition company, and this resulted in his not getting to the top, as he was leading a team that had to go back down, and that left the window open for another team in their group, and him to do more support work.

Martha said...

My then vegan son had surgery at age 22. Post-op it was impossible to wean him off supplemental oxygen. The surgeon wondered why a seemingly fit, healthy young male had such a low oxygen carrying ability —until my son told him he was a vegan. Eat meat you IDIOT was the doctor's advice.

glenn said...

There is just this one thing a farmer friend of mine said "Mother Nature is always the boss". Climbing Mt Everest has gotten to be kind of a fad. And a cottage industry for the locals. Once in a while consequences show up.

MadisonMan said...

My personal opinion is that those persons who claim to be climbing mountains (or riding bicycles cross country, or whatever) for a cause, are really just narcissists & it's all about them.

Yes, it's not Look what a vegan can do it's Look what I, a vegan, can do.

It's a mistake to mix up your own personality with attributes you follow.

Weather on a mountain is unforgiving, whether you are vegan or a cholesterol-loving meat fanatic. At least she died doing something she loved would be very small consolation if I were her family.

Roughcoat said...

There's nothing to cry or smirk about.

How then should we respond, O wise elder woman of the tribe? Pray, instruct us.

EDH said...

"There's nothing to cry or smirk about."

You and me have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
The soles of your shoes are all worn down

The time for sleep is now
It's nothing to cry about
Cause we'll hold each other soon
The blackest of rooms

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs
If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks

Then I'll follow you into the dark

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

"until my son told him he was a vegan. Eat meat you IDIOT was the doctor's advice."

Vegans can be healthy but they have to know that it is not normal and they must make allowances, like take Vitamin B12 and iron.

The trouble is that many of them are "activists" or fanatics and ignore nature.

Somebody who was determined to climb Everest as a vegan might have a low hemoglobin which would make them much more susceptible to altitude sickness. The people who live at 14,000 feet in Ecuador have hemoglobins of 18 to 20.

William said...

These needless deaths will continue to happen until the government installs a well lit, well maintained escalator to the top of Everest. It seems incredible to me that two generations after we put a man on the moon we still have not fashioned a safe, reliable way of achieving the Everst summi. Perhaps we should install elevators in order to make that experience accessible to those in wheelchairs.

Big Mike said...

There's nothing to cry or smirk about.

Yes there is. Something to smirk about, that is. Vegans tend to be utterly insufferable at the best of times. That one of them thought she was fit to function in one of the most extreme environments on earth -- utter self-delusion.

Oso Negro said...

Yes, the international climbing community prefers to leave their dead where they lay. It is apparently a part of their special ethos.

Nah, it's just impossible to bring the bodies down.

I do agree the whole exercise is more than a little narcissistic. Anyone who hasn't read "Into Thin Air" yet, should. It's great, but heartbreaking.


Impossible to bring the bodies down. Impossible, eh? No climber can move one of the dead so much as one meter towards a fit burial site without sacrificing themselves? Ok. Whatever.

Fernandinande said...

Paddy O said...
He was posting updates on Facebook, and his company has also been posting updates.


Does the Mt. Everest Starbucks have free WiFi?

Big Mike said...

@Oso Negro, you need to read "Into Thin Air," which is Krakauer's only competent book. When you are up on Mount Everest you are right on the knife edge of living and dying. Wasting energy moving dead bodies is an expenditure of energy that could make the difference between living and dying.

Martha said...

Note the vegan husband survived.
Men have higher hemoglobin levels and more muscle mass. Just saying—nature.

Michael K said...

""Into Thin Air," which is Krakauer's only competent book."

"Into the Wild" was pretty good but he has deteriorated since. The book about Montana is a mess. The others are not much better.

Michael K said...

Note the vegan husband survived.
Men have higher hemoglobin levels and more muscle mass. Just saying—nature.


Yes but he was very sick. Vegans should stay at sea level.

The Gold Digger said...

"Into the Wild" was pretty good

You mean the story about the rich kid who thought he was so daring to burn his cash and his car and reject society but who, with one phone call to his parents, would have been fine?

Yeah. He was so brave.

Char Char Binks said...

Ann Althouse said...

"Are the Sherpas not doing it for the money?"

People of color have no agency.

mockturtle said...

There's nothing to cry or smirk about.

Climbers climb because they are self-driven to do so. I have lost several friends to the mountains but have shed no tears for them. The vegan thing probably had little, if anything, to do with this woman's demise.

Original Mike said...

"mpossible to bring the bodies down. Impossible, eh? No climber can move one of the dead so much as one meter towards a fit burial site without sacrificing themselves? Ok. Whatever."

Really? You want to haul 200 lbs of deadweight down 10,000 ft of cliffs and ice while you are struggling to keep yourself alive? Methinks you don't know what you're talking about.

JAORE said...

Nothing to ... smirk about.

If you say so. But what if she died trying to ascend Everest in her Prius in an attempt to establish a free range chicken farm at the summit? Would that level of smugness allow just a smidgen of smirk?

Yeah, as you might guess I know some pushy vegans.....

damikesc said...

There's nothing to cry or smirk about.

Brings this to mind:

“One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.”

mockturtle said...

Really? You want to haul 200 lbs of deadweight down 10,000 ft of cliffs and ice while you are struggling to keep yourself alive? Methinks you don't know what you're talking about.

Right you are. Everest is littered with bodies and climbers sometimes have to step over frozen corpses on their ascent.

Kate said...

In my younger hippie days I was vegan for a while. The greatest deficiency -- which nobody mentions -- is fat intake. Without meat and dairy you have limited access to fat. (You can only eat so many avocados in a day.) The nutritional community spent a lot of time telling us fat was bad, so its absence in a vegan diet goes unremarked.

walter said...

Dunno Kate, a bit of olive oil and a generous handful of mixed nuts and you have plenty of fat.
If you're going to go "extreme", this adventure is a bit cliche.
On the plus side, this loss didn't risk the loss of others trying to rescue them. Plenty of instances of people dying trying to save someone who needless put themselves at risk.
Those are true heart breakers.

Ann Althouse said...

"In my younger hippie days I was vegan for a while. The greatest deficiency -- which nobody mentions -- is fat intake. Without meat and dairy you have limited access to fat. (You can only eat so many avocados in a day.) The nutritional community spent a lot of time telling us fat was bad, so its absence in a vegan diet goes unremarked."

I'd go with potato chips and french fries. That would supplement wharever fat you need.

Original Mike said...

"I'd go with potato chips and french fries. That would supplement wharever fat you need."

The fat they were fried in would have to be vegan-approved, wouldn't it?

Gordon said...

Oso Negro, you really should read Krakaeur's book. At the time he wrote it--1997--one third of the people who had tried to reach the summit had died in the attempt. One's odds are somewhat better today, but it's still a risky thing just to try. If you get altitude sickness, followed by cerebral edema, you will die if you can't get down to where there is more air. There is no possibility of rescue. No one has the strength to carry you. Helicopters can't get there. If you can't walk down, you will die. And there seems to be no way to predict who will get the sickness.

The professional climbing companies that take on the wealthy can improve the odds of success. They do not and cannot guarantee your survival. Besides altitude sickness, there's just too many other ways to die up there. And with the increased mountain traffic, one of the ways is to get stuck in a traffic jam and be exposed when a storm rolls in unexpectedly. Then, you become a landmark for future climbers, known probably not by name but for the color of your parka.

Brian said...

Pace mockturtle and some others, no one "has to" step over a dying person or a corpse on the way *up to* the summit. A man who has another 500 or 1000 ft of climbing in him when he encounters a dead or dying fellow *could* choose to use that energy to drag the unfortunate back down some ways instead. Not doing so is a choice, and that Everest climbers uniformly choose not to help each other is fairly put down to their ethos.

Compare to the conventions of conduct at sea, which hold that a sailor will almost always stop doing whatever he wanted to be doing and respond to a distress call, even at great peril to himself. The sea is unforgiving, too, and many a seaman has been lost in an attempted rescue. This, too, is down to ethos.

You can prefer one ethos or the other; there are good arguments on both sides. But the "well, nothing we can do" refrain from climbers is an evasion of the responsibility for making hard choices.

mockturtle said...

Brian, I suspect you know very little about climbing and I urge you to read some books by Ed Viesturs and others experienced with Everest.

Bill Peschel said...

IIRR, the upper part of Everest is called the dead zone. ("Death Zone" sez Wiki.) A combination of low temperatures, ever-present ice and snow, low atmospheric pressure, and fatigue, and you stand a good chance of dying up there.

I would never do it, and I'd admire anyone who tries because they feel a need to do so.

I have less admiration for those who make it about themselves or their favorite cause.

Even worse are the people who demand we name legislation or public works for people who had the bad luck to die, or who were otherwise undistinguished lawmakers (we have a road named after one such legislature).

As for our vegan victim, she set up the joke. How can we not laugh at the punchline?

Brian said...

Nonsense. "Nobody but climbers knows anything about this!" is just the climbers trying to extend the zone of lawlessness from the physical space in the mountain's Death Zone to any conversational space where people question the climbers' moral choices.

Again, what I find really interesting is the climbers' solipsism. They are not the only group of people who face the same basic problem. There are other environments that are both beyond ordinary law and perilous beyond belief: the open ocean in a bad storm, the killbox in a firefight. But the people who go into those other Death Zones have mostly developed a "No Man Left Behind" ethos while the climbers have developed a "You're On Your Own" ethos.

Rusty said...

It sounds like she and her husband didn't spend enough time acclimating. I don't think that has anything to do with diet. I could be wrong.

JPS said...

Gordon:

"Helicopters can't get there."

No. But I think it's worth a tip of the hat to Lt. Col. Madan Khatri Chhetri of the Nepalese Army, who in 1996 flew a rescue helicopter - twice! - up to 20,000 feet to evacuate badly injured Everest climbers who'd been helped down there by other climbers.

As Krakauer relates, two helicopters had landed there before, and one of them crashed on the way out. Madan landed at full power, kept his eyes locked on his gauges, raised one finger, flew the climber they'd loaded aboard down to the valley - and learned that this wasn't the guy he'd come for, the guy whose family back in Texas was raising such a ruckus asking if someone, anyone, could get him out alive. So he went back up.

Oso Negro said...

@ All - I read Krakauer's book back in the '90s when it first came out. I have spent some time up high, though not Everest. My perception of the climbing community in and around Boulder, CO for the seven years I spent there, was that in the land of the smug, you could not find a more finely self-centered group of assholes. No decent culture leaves dead humans lying about. It has become part of the "adventure" of Everest. I have no use for such people.

Original Mike said...

"No decent culture leaves dead humans lying about."

What do you propose should be done?

Clyde said...

When you go mano a mano with Nature, sometimes you lose. And this is not a Disneyfied version of Nature. She plays for keeps.

John said...

I don't know the details of a "vegan" lifestyle. As a Seventh Day Adventist I do know the details of a "vegetarian" lifestyle. I gather there may be some differences but don't know what they are.

In any event, many, perhaps most, SDAs are fairly strict vegetarians. Some eat milk and eggs. My son and his family generally don't though they do eat ice cream from time to time and a slice or two of turkey on Thanksgiving.

All 4 of them are very healthy, fit and athletically active. Seems like a pretty healthy lifestyle to me.

Ditto the members of my church and other SDAs that I know. They seem pretty healthy and long-lived to me.

So no smirking from me about vegans climbing Everest.

Me, I eat chicken, fish, eggs, milk, cheese etc. No red meat but that is because of gout rather than belief. I did give up pork and shellfish when I was Baptized.

John Henry

Douglas said...

Another climber - a professional mountain climber - died of altitude sickness on that Everest trek. The truth is that altitude sickness can strike anyone at any time at any age, regardless of the person's health or fitness. Doctors do not know what causes altitude sickness. They have no clue. Anyone trying to make a point about some climber because that climber got altitude sickness doesn't know what he's talking about.

mockturtle said...

Even experienced sherpas can get high altitude cerebral edema [HACE} or high altitude pulmonary edema [HAPE].

Jason said...

She was a vegan?

Other climbers probably spun the valve open on her oxygen because she wouldn't shut up about it.

Had to bring the high Smug level into balance with the low Oxygen level.

Take heed, Brian.

Scott said...

Q: How do you know if someone is a vegan
A: Wait 5 minutes, they will tell you

I suppose I am a very bad person, but I cannot help but thinking that the death of this twit had little more effect than raising the average IQ of the species by some insignificant fraction.

Oso Negro said...

@Original Mike - I am guessing that burning the dead would be most practical, but I have not made a study of it. If the vaunted Sherpas can pre-position oxygen bottles, I suspect they can pre-position fuel and suitable sources of ignition. But it requires that someone cares to do it. That is apparently neither the Nepalese government, nor the Chinese government, nor the international climbing community. But if it suits you to believe that it is impossible, don't let me talk you out of it.

damikesc said...

Oso Negro, you really should read Krakaeur's book. At the time he wrote it--1997--one third of the people who had tried to reach the summit had died in the attempt. One's odds are somewhat better today, but it's still a risky thing just to try. If you get altitude sickness, followed by cerebral edema, you will die if you can't get down to where there is more air. There is no possibility of rescue. No one has the strength to carry you. Helicopters can't get there. If you can't walk down, you will die. And there seems to be no way to predict who will get the sickness.

Normally not a fan of the author, but "Into Thin Air" was an outstanding book. Gives great details on the problems in climbing at that height and the heroism of people who sacrificed themselves to try and save others.

Original Mike said...

"But it requires that someone cares to do it."

Why are you sitting on your ass? Get to it, man.

mikeski said...

am guessing that burning the dead would be most practical, but I have not made a study of it.

Not those people, and not up there. It takes a lot of heat to take care of a person, unless just you just want a bit of surface char.

During plagues in Europe, the folks burning the bodies knew that you had to space the female bodies throughout the pyre so there would be enough fat to burn things thoroughly. The bodies up on Everest are all pretty lean, regardless of sex, or they wouldn't have gotten there.

You have not enough O2 for a good fire, not enough fuel for a good fire, not enough heat for a good fire, and not enough flammable fatty bodies to keep a funeral pyre going.

I suppose you could dynamite a hole to throw them into...

mikee said...

Brian, your comparison of climbers on Everest, sailors at sea, and soldiers in a fight is not legitimate. Sailors and soldiers are performing a job or mission, and their location is most often not of their own choosing. Rescue of others both in their own group or not is performed partly out of altruism, but also in pure self-interest, in the belief that others will come to your aid if/when you need help.

Everest climbers are volunteers as to location and mission and their ability to help each other is minimal due to the harsh conditions. Once a person on Everest is dead their corpse is less important than their ropes, oxygen bottles and other supplies in keeping any other climbers alive.

At a medical conference in February this year I listened as a survivor of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal showed that it took about 12 to 24 people to transport one injured Everest climber - starting at lower altitude, at the base camps - to safe areas for helicopter evacuation. It is not just impractical for one or two or six climbers to carry a corpse off the upper slopes of Everest, it is a physical impossibility.