Dead Sherpa Found on Khumbu Glacier
May 17, 1997
By Liesl Clark
What remains of the body lies on the slowly melting surface of the Khumbu
Glacier, amidst rising blue ice pinnacles. "We're almost certain it's the
body of a Sherpa from the 1982 Canadian Everest Expedition where some of the
members were caught in an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall," explains Howard
Just 300 yards from our Base Camp, frozen in the ice, human bones and clothing
are strewn about on the smooth ice surface. A black synthetic inner boot marks
the spot, and skeletal bones from the foot remain in the brown wool sock that's
still in place inside the boot. "There's an obviously human femur which is the
large bone of the upper leg (and the largest bone in the human body) and there's
an intact tibia fibula which appears shorter than one would expect on a Western
climber. This suggests that these are the bones of a Sherpa. The windbreaker
that the climber was wearing has a "Made in Canada" label and also has velcro
fasteners which dates the garment from the 60s or later," continues Howard.
Bodies periodically surface in the ever-churning Khumbu Glacier that moves some
200 feet per year. And for us, the presence of the bones is a reminder of the
dangerous nature of the fragile and exposed Icefall that we hear crumbling and
roaring at night in its constantly grinding machinations.
The winds seem to be diminishing very slightly as the days continue to add up.
We all keep our fingers crossed that weather reports will shine favorably on
our team as they prepare to move up to Camp II to assess the damage rendered by
the raging jet stream winds.