British climber who died in Everest 'death zone' had feared overcrowding on summit's slopes

Telegraph Reporters
Robin Haynes Fisher on his way to climb Mount Everest - PA

A British climber, who became the latest person to die on Mount Everest this season, admitted before setting off that he feared the dangers of overcrowding in the "death zone".

Robin Haynes Fisher, 44, died on his descent after reaching the 8,850-metre (29,035 feet) summit of the world's highest mountain.

He passed away in the "death zone", the area named for the low levels of oxygen on descent from the summit.

Mr Fisher, who lived in Birmingham, is one of at least eight climbers to die on the treacherous slopes in the current climbing season that ends this month.

Hiking officials attributed most of the deaths to weakness, exhaustion and delays on the crowded route to the summit.

In his last social media post on Tuesday, Mr Fisher wrote how he had changed his climbing plans in order to avoid the crowds.

"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," he added. 

He also described how the altitude had already taken its toll on his health. 

"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. 

Robin Haynes Fisher on his way to climb Mount Everest Credit: PA

"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."

Mr Fisher has been described by his family as an “aspirational adventurer”.

Mr Fisher’s family said: “He achieved so much in his short life, climbing Mont Blanc, Aconcagua and Everest.

"He was a 'tough guy', triathlete, and marathoner. A champion for vegetarianism, published author, and a cultured theatre-goer, lover of Shakespeare.”

Now Nepal is facing scrutiny for issuing a record 381 permits — at £8,600 each — for this year’s spring season.

This week, a climber shared a photograph of the lengthy tailbacks on the mountain. Hundreds found themselves stuck for hours in the notoriously dangerous death zone, having used the window of good weather to push for the 8,848m (29,030ft) summit.

Murari Sharma, of the Everest Parivar Treks company that arranged Mr Fisher’s logistics, told Reuters: “He died because of weakness after a long ascent and difficult descent.

“He was descending with his sherpa guides from the summit when he suddenly fainted.”

Fellow guides changed Mr Fisher’s oxygen bottle and offered him water, but could not save him.

This handout photo taken on May 22, 2019 and released by climber Nirmal Purja's Project Possible expedition shows heavy traffic of mountain climbers lining up to stand at the summit of Mount Everest Credit:  AFP

At least four other deaths have been linked to the human traffic jam. A Nepali guide is also believed to have died.

Irish climber Kevin Hynes, 56, died in his tent at 7,000 metres on the early hours of Friday morning, after turning back before reaching the summit.

With each climber normally accompanied by at least one Sherpa, the mountain could see more than 750 people trekking to the summit this season.

Garrett Madison of the U.S. based Madison Mountaineering company that sponsors climbers to Mount Everest said many were not well qualified or prepared climbers and lacked  the support necessary to ascend and descend safely.

Mr Madison told Reuters: “If they were with a strong and experienced team they would have likely been fine, but with minimal support, once something goes wrong it’s tough to get back on course.”