French Climber Dies During Summit Push on Makalu

Tue May 14 2024
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KATHMANDU, Nepal: A French climber, Johnny Saliba, tragically lost his life on Mount Makalu, the world’s fifth-highest peak, during this year’s spring climbing season. Saliba, 60, succumbed to altitude sickness at an altitude of 8,120 meters (26,640 feet) while attempting his summit push on Sunday.

According to Bodha Raj Bhandari, an expedition organizer at Snowy Horizon Treks and Expedition, Saliba exhibited symptoms of altitude sickness during his ascent, prompting his guide to bring him down. Despite efforts to descend to a safer altitude, Saliba passed away. The expedition team is coordinating efforts to retrieve his body, and his family has been notified.

Saliba was part of a French team attempting to conquer the formidable 8,485-meter-tall (27,838-feet) mountain. Fortunately, the other members of the team safely returned to the base camp following the tragic incident.

This marks the second fatality on Mount Makalu in this year’s climbing season. Just last week, a 53-year-old Nepali guide lost his life while descending after successfully reaching the summit.

Nepal issued 59 permits to foreign climbers for Mount Makalu this year, with climbers facing challenging conditions and risks associated with high altitudes. Despite the lower permit costs compared to Everest, climbers undertake significant risks while attempting to summit Makalu.

The spring climbing season in Nepal attracts hundreds of climbers from around the world, drawn to the Himalayan country’s awe-inspiring peaks and favorable climbing conditions. Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks, generates significant revenue from climbing permits, with over 900 permits issued this year, including 414 for Everest alone.

The tragic loss of Johnny Saliba serves as a stark reminder of the inherent dangers of high-altitude mountaineering and the importance of safety measures during expeditions in the Himalayas.

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