American climber becomes latest to die on Everest this year

An American climber died while descending Mount Everest on Monday, bringing this year’s death toll on the mountain’s Nepali side to at least nine amid concerns of overcrowding on the summit.

A Nepalese official said Monday morning that 61-year-old Christopher John Kulish ascended the more than 29,000-foot peak by taking its Southeast Ridge route, but died suddenly while coming down, Reuters reported.

The cause of death remains unknown.

On Saturday, 44-year-old British climber Robin Haynes Fisher died in the mountain’s “death zone,” an area infamous for its low oxygen levels due to its altitude.

“He was descending with his sherpa guides from the summit when he suddenly fainted,” Murari Sharma, an employee of the Everest Parivar Treks expedition company that organized Fisher’s trip, said of the climber. 

An Instagram post flagged by CNN shows that on May 19, days before his death, Fisher wrote that he was “hopeful to avoid the crowds on summit day and it seems like a number of teams are pushing to summit on the 21st.”

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Climbed up to camp 3, 7500m but the jet stream had returned closing the summit after only 2 days so I descended to basecamp. Around 100 climbers did summit in those 2 days with sadly 2 deaths, an Indian man found dead in his tent at camp 4 and an Irish climber lost, assumed fallen, on his descent. A go fund me page has been set up for a rescue bid for the Irish climber but it is a well meaning but futile gesture. Condolences to both their friends and families. Both deaths happened above 8000m in the so called death zone where the majority of deaths of foreign climbers happen. Around 700 more people will be looking to summit from Tuesday the 21st onwards. My revised plan, subject to weather that at the moment looks promising, is to return up the mountain leaving basecamp Tuesday the 21st 0230 and, all being well and a lot of luck, arriving on the summit the morning of Saturday the 25th. I will be climbing with my Sherpa, Jangbu who is third on the all time list with an incredible 19 summits. The other 4 members of our team decided to remain on the mountain and are looking to summit on the 21st. My cough had started to return at altitude so I couldn’t wait with them at altitude for the window to open without the risk of physically deteriorating too much. Furthermore as I had missed due to sickness the earlier camp 3 rotation best practice was for me to descend to allow my body to recover from the new altitude high so I could come back stronger. This was not an easy decision as the 13 hours climbing from basecamp to camp 2 in a day was the hardest physical and mental challenge I had ever done, now I have it all to do again. Finally I am hopeful to avoid the crowds on summit day and it seems like a number of teams are pushing to summit on the 21st. With a single route to the summit delays caused by overcrowding could prove fatal so I am hopeful my decision to go for the 25th will mean fewer people. Unless of course everyone else plays the same waiting game. #everest #everest2019 #lhotseface

A post shared by Robin (@1c0n0clast22) on

Overcrowding has become a major problem on Everest as climbers jump at the chance to make the trek when weather conditions are optimal.

An image captured on Wednesday by mountaineer Nirmal Purja gained international attention as it showed a massive line of people waiting to reach Everest’s summit.

According to The New York Times, veteran mountaineers and industry experts are sounding the alarm on the number of people on the peak, particularly those who are inexperienced.

Striking photos of Mount Everest expeditions
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Striking photos of Mount Everest expeditions
(GERMANY OUT) Mount Everest Massiv, Flug von Lhasanach KathmanduLuftaufnahme- 1996 (Photo by Mei�er/ullstein bild via Getty Images) la FERRIERE TRIES TO CLIMB EVEREST WITHOUT OXYGEN (Photo by John van Hasselt/Sygma via Getty Images) la FERRIERE TRIES TO CLIMB EVEREST WITHOUT OXYGEN (Photo by John van Hasselt/Sygma via Getty Images)
NEPAL - UNSPECIFIED DATE: Pierre Mazeaud during the ascent of Mount Everest, he is the first Frenchman to have climbed Mount Everest, in 1978 in Nepal. (Photo by EVEREST 78/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Some alpinists of the expedition organized to reach the top of the Mount Everest walking on the glaciers. Nepal, 1953. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Two alpinists roped together on the Mount Everest. Nepal, 1953. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
A climber jumps a crevasse on Mount Everest. (Photo by Galen Rowell/Corbis via Getty Images)
A climber ascends an icy slope on Mount Everest. (Photo by Galen Rowell/Corbis via Getty Images)
EVEREST HIMALAYAN RANGE, NEPAL - MAY: Climbers on Mount Everest in Nepal. (Photo by Tap RICHARDS/Mallory-Irvine/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Ice formations just above the Walking with the Wounded team's Everest base camp in Nepal.
Captain Francis Atkinson, a member of the Walking with the Wounded team, climbs out of Khumjung on the way to summit Everest in Nepal.

Critics have argued the Nepalese government’s desire to cash in on the frenzy has led it to hand out more permits than the mountain can handle, making the journey especially risky.

Last week, Agence France-Presse reported that a record-breaking 381 permits had been issued for the 2019 spring climbing season, each costing $11,000. The influx prompted fears of traffic jams if bad weather cuts down on climbing days.

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