British man dies on Mount Everest as death toll of climbers in Himalayas reaches 20

Adam Forrest

A British climber has died on the slopes Mount Everest in Nepal after reaching the summit of the world’s highest mountain, according to reports.

Robin Haynes Fisher, 44, died in the so-called “death zone” known for low levels of oxygen on his attempted descent from the summit on Saturday morning, a Nepalese tourism department official told Reuters.

Murari Sharma, managing director of the Everest Parivar Treks company that helped arrange the logistics of Mr Fisher’s journey, said: “He died because of weakness after a long ascent and difficult descent.”

The Foreign Office is looking into reports that a British climber had died, but has not yet been formally informed of any incident.

The British citizen is the tenth fatality on Mount Everest in the current climbing season, according to The Himalayan Times. The death is also the 20th across the Himalayan mountain range during the climbing season, which ends later this month.

Hiking officials have attributed most of the recent deaths to weakness, exhaustion and delays on the crowded route to the 29,000 feet summit. So-called “traffic jams” of climbers have formed near the summit after around 380 permits to climb were issued by the Nepalese authorities.

Fellow guides changed Mr Fisher’s oxygen bottle and offered him water, but could not save him said the Everest Parivar Treks. “He was descending with his sherpa guides from the summit when he suddenly fainted,” said a company spokesperson.

It follows the death of an Irish climber in the early hours of Friday. Kevin Hynes, 56, died in his tent at 7,000 metres after turning back before reaching the summit. The father-of-two was part of a group from UK-based climbing company 360 Expeditions.

A US climber also died on his way down from Mount Everest on Friday, mountaineering officials said. Don Cash, 55, became ill at the summit and was treated by his two guides, said Pasang Tenje Sherpa, head of the Pioneer Adventure company.

“When he was on the top he just fell. The two Sherpas who were with him gave CPR and massages,” he said. “After that he woke up, then near Hillary Step he fell down again in the same manner, which means he got high altitude sickness.”

Their deaths come a week after Irish professor Seamus Lawless, aged 39 and from County Wicklow, fell during his descent from the peak having achieved a lifetime ambition of reaching the summit. The search for Mr Lawless, presumed dead, has been called off.

An Austrian climber and two Indian climbers are also reported to have died in the last week. Conditions are reportedly worse than usual this year, with high winds leaving less time for climbers to reach the summit.

Garrett Madison of the US based Madison Mountaineering company that sponsors climbers to Mount Everest said many were not “well qualified or prepared climbers” and were without the support necessary to ascend and descend safely.

“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,” said Mr Madison.

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are in contact with relevant tour operators following reports that British climber has died on Mount Everest and are ready to provide support to the family.”

Additional reporting by agencies