Expedition Leader Dies At Everest Base Camp
April 23, 1997
By Liesl Clark
News always comes to us first through the Sherpas. "Someone died last night over at the camp
next door—it was the leader, Mal Duff."
Mal Duff, a long-time Everest expedition leader from the United Kingdom, who has lead many
expeditions on the mountain, died last night in his sleep at Base Camp. We're all in a state of
shock over the news. Many of our team members knew Mal well and are coping with the news while
camped high on the mountain. All here at Base Camp have sent their well wishes to Mal's staff
at Base Camp and are doing what they can to help the team during this very difficult time.
"Mal was an integral part of Everest for all of us," commented another expedition leader. Mal's
Sherpas have set and maintained the route through the Icefall for the last two years. His current
expedition members are attempting to climb both Everest and Lhotse. At this time, we have no news
as to whether the members will continue with their climbs.
Today there is a strange silence over Base Camp, with only the blowing prayer flags making a
sound. It is a violent wind, the kind that blows straight up from the ground in front of you,
knocking your glacier glasses against your forehead. We haven't seen such a tumultuously gusty
day here yet, as if the spirit of Mal Duff were blowing fiercely around camp, making his last
indelible mark on a place where he has spent many days of his life.