A few weeks back we posted a story about 82-year old Shailendra Kumar Upadhyaya, a former Nepalese foreign minister who was hoping to become the oldest person to summit Mt. Everest. That attempt came to a tragic end yesterday, when it was announced that Upadhyaya passed away while on the mountain.
The exact cause of death is still unknown, but what we do know is that the octogenarian was on his way up to Camp 1, which is located at roughly 20,000 feet. Apparently, the climber did make it to that destination, but died there a short time later. This was to be his first acclimatization rotation on the mountain, which is an important part of the process for preparing for an eventual summit attempt. A government official announced that the former minister passed away at approximately 4 PM local time.
Upadhyaya undertook his expedition in an attempt to show the world that the elderly are still strong and capable members of society. He was hoping to break the record set by a climber by the name of Min Bahadur Sherchan, who scaled Everest at the age of 76 back in 2008. The fact that he had little mountaineering experience didn’t seem to bother Upadhyaya all that much.
In the original article about his attempt, I noted that climbing Everest is no easy feat at any age, and that I hoped he would know when to call it quits before he got into any real trouble. It seems that probably wasn’t the case however, and while we don’t know exactly what exactly brought about his demise, it is likely that the challenges of the climb were just too much for his body. While reaching Camp 1 is an important step to acclimatizing for the higher altitude, it is nothing compared to what he would have faced much higher on the 29,029 foot mountain.