I met Dutch mountaineer Eric Arnold in Kathmandu in April the day before he was set to leave for Base Camp to make his fourth official attempt to climb Mount Everest. Arnold was sitting at a long table at a dinner given by one of the Nepali climbing companies, drinking a beer and eating “momos” -- dumplings -- along with several other teams from countries like Iran, Spain and Australia. The excitement in the room was palpable.
Even among several dozen experienced adventurers on hand, Arnold’s story stood out.
What must he have felt then, when he finally reached the pinnacle of the world Friday?
We may never know the answer, because Arnold died while experiencing altitude-related symptoms on his way back down the mountain, the first of two climbers killed on Everest this year.
Arnold had enough bottled oxygen with him, but he complained of weakness and died before he was able to reach lower altitude, Pasang Phurba, a representative of Arnold's Nepali guide company, told the Associated Press. A second climber from that team, Australian Maria Strydom, died Saturday. More than 250 people have died climbing Mount Everest since 1953, many from altitude-related illnesses.