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Faith  Nyasuguta 

The body of missing Kenyan mountaineer Cheruiyot Kirui has been discovered just a few meters below the summit of Mt. Everest. Kirui, who was making an attempt to reach the summit without the aid of supplementary oxygen, was accompanied by Nepali climber Nawang Sherpa, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

“With profound sadness, we share the news of Kenyan mountaineer Cheruiyot Kirui’s passing on Mt. Everest. His body was found a few meters below the summit point of Mt. Everest,” Everest Today announced on the X platform. 

“His indomitable will and passion for mountaineering will forever be an inspiration. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends during this time of sorrow. Rest in peace, Cheruiyot.”

A search operation is currently underway to locate Nawang Sherpa, who has been missing since Tuesday morning after an ice fall collapsed during their descent from Everest’s peak. Mingma Sherpa, Chairman of Seven Summit Treks, reported that Kirui, who attempted to scale Everest without supplemental oxygen, lost contact near the Bishop Rock, a few meters below the summit point. 

“Kirui, a banker working with KCB, and his Sherpa guide Nawang were last contacted at the Bishop Rock,” Sherpa said.

Additionally, Gabriel Tabara of Romania was found dead inside his tent at Camp III yesterday. Tabara, 48, was also attempting to climb Lhotse without the use of supplementary oxygen.

Cheruiyot, who aspired to climb Everest without supplemental oxygen, exhibited abnormal behavior before losing contact, according to Mingma Sherpa. 

Cheruiyot Kirui /X/

“The duo went out of contact shortly after,” he added. Seven Summit Treks has mobilized two Sherpa rescuers to search for the missing climbers. “They have reached above the balcony area,” Mingma Sherpa told the Himalayan Times.

Before embarking on his hike, Cheruiyot expressed his determination, saying, “Climbing Everest has been done before. I think the only difference is what I’m trying to do, climbing without supplemental oxygen. That has not been done by any African. It’s the tough way to climb Mt. Everest.” 

He acknowledged the heightened risks involved, stating, “It is riskier than climbing with supplemental oxygen. So you need to be extremely fit. The success rate of climbing without supplemental oxygen is less than 40 percent.”

At 8,849 meters, Everest’s summit has approximately one-third of the air pressure that exists at sea level, significantly reducing a climber’s ability to breathe in enough oxygen. Scientists have determined that the human body cannot remain indefinitely above 6,000 meters due to this low oxygen concentration.

Cheruiyot believed that climbing with supplemental oxygen would be too easy and would not provide the sense of achievement he sought. “The challenge for me would be without supplemental oxygen; otherwise, I wouldn’t feel like I’ve achieved much. So I want to see how my body can cope at such altitude,” Kirui said. 

He emphasized the dangers of the ‘death zone’ above 8,000 meters on Mt. Everest, where oxygen is so limited that the body’s cells begin to die, impairing judgment. “Your body is not structured to survive with that oxygen concentration, which is around a third of what is at sea level. The idea is to get to the summit as fast as possible and then descend before your body starts shutting down or dying,” he added.

Summiting Mt. Everest requires extensive mountaineering experience, a certificate of good health, proper equipment, and a trained Nepalese guide. The mountain’s snow and ice create deadly hazards such as avalanches, and the climbing season is limited by severe weather conditions. 

Kirui maintained that being in excellent physical condition was essential for his attempt. “You have to be in really good shape to get to the summit and back down before your body shuts down,” he stated.

Cheruiyot Kirui /X/

Mt. Everest, located at a latitude of about 28 degrees, straddles the borders of Nepal and China. Kirui developed his passion for mountaineering during a work boot camp at the Outward Bound Training Centre in Kenya. His tragic passing is a solemn reminder of the extreme challenges and dangers faced by mountaineers attempting to conquer the world’s highest peak.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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