Kenyan Mountaineer Cheruiyot Kirui Dies Near Everest Summit

Tragedy strikes as Kenyan mountaineer Joshua Kirui is found dead near Everest's summit. Search efforts continue for his guide Nawang Sherpa. This marks the fourth climbing fatality on Everest this week.

May 23, 2024 - 13:38
May 23, 2024 - 14:38
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Kenyan Mountaineer Cheruiyot Kirui Dies Near Everest Summit
On May 17, 2024, Kenyan hiker Cheruiyot Kirui shared this breathtaking view on his Instagram, capturing the serene beauty of the Himalayas just before beginning his ascent of Mt. Everest.

A Kenyan mountaineer, Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui, has been found dead near the summit of Mount Everest, bringing a tragic end to his ambitious quest to scale the world's highest peak without supplementary oxygen. The 40-year-old banker and experienced climber disappeared on Wednesday along with his Nepali guide, Nawang Sherpa, 44. Search teams deployed to locate the pair have yet to find Mr. Sherpa, according to a local tourism official who spoke to the AFP news agency.

Climbing Mount Everest, which stands at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet), poses extreme risks and challenges, even for seasoned mountaineers. The perilous journey without supplementary oxygen significantly increases the danger due to the thin air and harsh conditions at such high altitudes.

The Himalayan Times reported that shortly before losing contact, Mr. Sherpa had informed base camp officials that Mr. Kirui exhibited "abnormal behaviour" and refused to descend or use bottled oxygen. This communication was the last heard from the duo before they vanished.

In preparation for this formidable challenge, Mr. Kirui had undergone extensive physical training. He climbed Manaslu, the world's eighth-highest mountain, in September 2023 as part of his preparations. Additionally, he engaged in local climbs in Kenya, rigorous stair climbs, gym workouts, and running. His decade-long experience in climbing, marathon running, and ultra-marathons further contributed to his readiness for Everest. In an email to the BBC last week, Mr. Kirui detailed his meticulous preparations, expressing his determination to conquer Everest. His Instagram posts echoed this confidence, although he acknowledged carrying emergency oxygen and having an evacuation plan in place.

The news of Mr. Kirui's death has deeply affected the Kenyan mountain climbing community. James Muhia, a fellow Kenyan mountaineer who had been closely following and sharing updates about Mr. Kirui's expedition, expressed his sorrow on social media platform X, saying, "Our brother now rests on the mountain. It's been a long night." Mr. Muhia had previously voiced strong support for Mr. Kirui, asserting his confidence in Kirui's physical and mental preparedness, equipment, and training. The two had climbed Manaslu together last year, further strengthening their bond as mountaineering partners.

A Week of Tragedy on Everest

Mr. Kirui's death marks the fourth fatality on Everest within a week. Earlier, a Romanian climber, a British climber, and his Nepalese guide were also found dead, highlighting the ongoing dangers faced by those who attempt to conquer the formidable mountain. Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui, in addition to being a dedicated mountaineer, was a banker with one of Kenya's largest lenders. His passion for climbing and his drive to push his limits will be remembered by his family, friends, and the wider mountaineering community. His untimely death serves as a poignant reminder of the inherent risks associated with high-altitude climbing, especially without supplementary oxygen. 

As the search continues for Nawang Sherpa, the climbing community remains hopeful for his safe return, while mourning the loss of an ambitious and resilient climber who aimed to achieve the extraordinary. The tragic loss of Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui on Everest underscores the perilous nature of high-altitude mountaineering. His dedication and spirit of adventure will be remembered by all who knew him and followed his journey. His legacy serves as both an inspiration and a cautionary tale for future mountaineers who dare to dream of standing atop the world's highest peak.

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