NOVA Online
Everest
Site Map

Five Climbers Presumed Dead on the North Side
May 11, 1997
By Liesl Clark

Five people who were climbing Everest from the north (Tibetan) side of the mountain are missing and presumed dead. They were making their attempt on the summit on the 8th of May. New Zealand expedition leader Guy Cotter has been in touch with expedition leader Russell Bryce from Chamonix who is on the north side on a radio with the same frequency as Guy's. Russell reports that as many as 10 climbers were making a summit attempt on May 8th; some (and possibly all) climbers reached the summit and came down while others have still not returned.

Reports have confirmed that one Asian Trekking Sherpa by the name of Mingma fell to his death down the Great Couloir, a 4,000-foot 40-degree snow gully that bisects the rock bands on the north face of Everest. Three Kazakh climbers are also presumed dead after their attempt to climb from the north side of Everest over to the south side where they planned to then traverse Lhotse on the southern (Nepalese) side. This is an expedition that Anatoli Boukreev (who has already summited Everest on the southern side with the Indonesians) has now joined on the Tibetan side. One of the Kazakh climbers that has died was seen collapsed just beyond the high camp on the north side.

The last climber presumed dead is an Austrian who has been missing since May 8. He was last seen going up to the summit on the north side at 3:00 p.m. without bottled oxygen. This is considered a very late approach to the summit, given that he was climbing without the aid of supplemental oxygen which would slow him down even further. He would have spent the night at 27,500 feet without oxygen the night before leaving for the summit. There is a small hope that he may have come down the south side and could have bivouacked up high. No tents are set up at Camp IV, so it is unlikely he would have survived this long in the estimated 100 knot winds on Everest's upper slopes.

June 10, 1997: Back Home (27)
May 25, 1997: Climbers Return to Base Camp (26)
May 24, 1997: Descending Toward Base Camp (25)
May 23 PM, 1997: NOVA Climbers Safely Off the Summit (24)
May 23 AM, 1997: NOVA Climbers Reach the Summit! (23)
    Hear the archived live audio broadcast from the summit
    Read the transcript of the broadcast from the summit
May 22, 1997: Bid for the Summit (22)
May 21, 1997: Helicopter Crashes at Everest Base Camp (21)
May 20, 1997: Moving On Up (20)
May 19, 1997: Poised at Camp II (19)
May 18, 1997: Departing for Camp II (18)
May 17, 1997: Dead Sherpa Found on Khumbu Glacier (17)
May 16, 1997: Jet Stream Winds Blast Camp II (16)
May 13, 1997: Receiving News from the North Side (15)
    May 13, 1997: RealAudio Interview with David Breashears
May 11, 1997: Five Climbers Presumed Dead on the North Side (14)
May 10, 1997: The Waiting Game (13)
May 9, 1997: Pulmonary Edema Evacuation from Base Camp (12)
May 8, 1997: A Hasty Retreat to Base Camp (11)
May 7, 1997: Sherpa Falls To His Death On The Lhotse Face (10)
May 6, 1997: Spin: A Passenger to the Summit (9)
May 5, 1997: Delayed at Advance Base Camp (8)
May 4, 1997: NOVA Climbers Leave Base Camp for Their Summit Attempt (7)
May 1, 1997: NOVA Team Prepares for Summit Attempt (6)
April 26, 1997: Indonesian Expedition First to Summit in 1997 (5)
April 23, 1997: Expedition Leader Dies at Everest Base Camp (4)
April 22, 1997: Japanese Expedition Pulls Out (3)
April 16, 1997: Traffic Reports on Everest (2)
April 14, 1997: Rescue Season Begins (1)



Lost on Everest | High Exposure | Climb | History & Culture | Earth, Wind, & Ice
E-mail | Previous Expeditions | Resources | Site Map | Everest Home

Editor's Picks | Previous Sites | Join Us/E-mail | TV/Web Schedule
About NOVA | Teachers | Site Map | Shop | Jobs | Search | To print
PBS Online | NOVA Online | WGBH

© | Updated November 2000

Support provided by

For new content
visit the redesigned
NOVA site