The body of a Canadian woman who died hours after fulfilling her dream of summiting the world’s tallest mountain is one step closer to being returned to her family members.
A five-person climbing team slogged through rough weather over two days to recover the body of Shriya Shah-Klorfine from the slopes of Mount Everest.
Her remains are currently resting at a camp within helicopter range and are to be flown on Tuesday to the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, where her husband and other family members are waiting to make final arrangements.
The 33-year-old from Toronto succumbed to exhaustion and cold while making her way down from the summit to the camp where she was slated to rest for the night on May 19. She was one of four climbers to perish on an usually busy day on the peak.
Ganesh Thakuri, owner of Utmost Adventure Trekking which oversaw Shah-Klorfine’s expedition, said recovering her body was a way to make amends for failing to bring her home alive.
“Anything can happen on the mountain,” he said in a telephone interview from Kathmandu. “Sometimes we work hard and we try to help each other, but sometimes it doesn’t work.”
The recovery operation involved a team of five climbers ascending to more than 8,000 metres above sea level, Thakuri said.
Difficult weather conditions slowed the group’s progress, but the team succeeded in bringing the body back to the second of four climbing camps early Monday.
Thakuri said a helicopter was scheduled to retrieve Shah-Klorfine’s body from the mountain later in the day, but had to abort the plan after running into cloudy weather.
Shah-Klorfine’s death was caused in part by overcrowding in the mountain’s so-called “death zone” between the final camp and the summit, Thakuri said.
The area above the last camp at the South Col earned its name because of its steep icy terrain, treacherous conditions and low oxygen level. Climbers are generally advised not to attempt the dangerous area too late in the day in order to conserve their strength for the return trip.
The estimated 150 people making their way up the peak that day caused many bottlenecks along the route, slowing progress for all concerned and taxing some beyond their strength.
Shah-Klorfine had been climbing for nearly 17 hours by the time she reached the summit at 2:00 p.m., Thakuri said.
The descent was further complicated by cold, windy conditions, he added.
“She lost her stamina, and according to the sherpas was suffering with the altitude. Everything came together when they were coming down and she collapsed,” Thakuri said.
German doctor Eberhard Schaaf, 62, 55-year-old Wang-yi Fa of China and 44-year-old South Korean mountaineer Song Won-bin also died on the mountain that day.
Born in Kathmandu, Shah-Klorfine grew up in Mumbai, India and moved to Canada to be with her husband and start an import business, SOS Splash of Style Inc.
Her adopted country soon became central to her convictions as she involved herself in social and political groups, including the Conservative Party of Canada, where she was on the board of directors as secretary to the party’s Toronto-Davenport riding association.
Her desire to climb Mount Everest was also intermingled with her patriotism. “This is my dream and passion, and (I) want to do something for my country,” Shah-Klorfine wrote on her website.
“Nothing is impossible in this world, even the word ’impossible’ says ’I M POSSIBLE’!”