A French mountaineer died while scaling the summit of Mount Makalu, Nepal

A French mountaineer died while scaling the summit of Mount Makalu, Nepal
A French mountaineer died while scaling the summit of Mount Makalu, Nepal

Johnny Saliba, a 60-year-old French mountaineer, died on Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world located in the Himalayas in Nepal, the expedition organizers announced on Tuesday.

He “was heading towards the summit but, as he showed symptoms of altitude sickness, his guide took him down. Then he died,” on Sunday at 8,120 m above sea level, said Bodha Raj Bhandari, expedition organizer at Snowy Horizon Treks and Expedition.

The family of the French mountaineer has been informed of his death, added the organizer, specifying that efforts were being made to recover his body. The climber was part of a French team scaling Mount Makalu at 8,485 meters. All returned safely to base camp.

Second death of the season

This is the second death of the mountaineering season after that of Lakpa Tenji Sherpa, a 53-year-old Nepalese guide, who died last week while descending from Makalu, the summit of which he had reached. Hundreds of climbers flock to Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks, to climb these peaks in spring when temperatures are mild and winds generally lower.

The mountaineering industry, now worth several million dollars, relies on the experience of “sherpas”, these Nepalese mountain people, serving as guides. They pay a heavy price to support hundreds of climbers each year. A third of the deaths on Everest are Nepalese guides.

More than 900 climbing permits issued

Every year, “icefall doctors”, Sherpas specializing in securing the route to the summits, go upstream to prepare the climbing route using ropes and ladders. Every spring, they are the first to reach the summit of Everest at 8,849 m above sea level, opening a safe circuit, away from dizzying crevasses, through the ice which constantly changes, like the famous and perilous waterfall of the Khumbu glacier.

Nepal has issued more than 900 permits to climb its mountains to foreign climbers this year, including 414 for Everest, including 59 for Makalu. Dozens of them have already been able to reach its summit.

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