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Mount Everest death toll increases to 11 after American dies

By
Danielle Haynes
Nepalese tourism officials have blamed the increase in deaths on overcrowding, poor weather conditions and unskilled climbers. File Photo by Praphat Rattanayanon/Shutterstock
Nepalese tourism officials have blamed the increase in deaths on overcrowding, poor weather conditions and unskilled climbers. File Photo by Praphat Rattanayanon/Shutterstock

May 27 (UPI) -- The death toll for this year's climbing season on Mount Everest rose to 11 on Monday after a Colorado attorney died while descending from the tallest peak in the world, Nepalese tourism officials said.

Chris Kulish, 62, died suddenly after descending to about 25,918 feet, about 3,000 feet below the mountain's peak in Nepal.

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Nepal's tourism authority has blamed overcrowding, poor weather and a lack of climbing experience for the 11 deaths this season. Between 2016 and 2018, between five and seven people each year died on the mountain. In 2014 and 2015, the numbers were higher due to major avalanches.

Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general of Nepal's tourism authority, said 381 people had climbed the mountain this spring, but a lack of clear weather has lead to a "higher than expected" number of people on the routes when the weather is good.

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With larger crowds, groups of people have become stuck in lines to the summit in the so-called "death zone" for longer periods of time. In that zone, above 26,247 feet, most people need extra oxygen supplies to breathe and even with that help, can only survive at that altitude for a few hours.

In addition to Kulish, two other Americans, Chris Daly and Donald Cash, have died on Mount Everest this year. Daly died on a fall near base camp on April 20, and Cash died of a suspected cardiac arrest on the Hillary Step on May 22.

Other deaths include:

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-- Robin Fisher, of Britain, on Saturday

-- Druba Bista, of Nepal, on Friday

-- Kevin Hynes, of Ireland, on Friday

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-- Kalpana Dash, of India, on Thursday

-- Anjali S. Kulkarni, of India, on Thursday

-- Ernst Landgraf, of Austria, on Thursday

-- Nihal Bagwan, of India, on Thursday

-- Ravi Thakar, of India, on May 17

Seamus Lawless, of Ireland, is presumed dead after going missing after a fall on May 16. Confirmation of his death would bring the death toll to 12.

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