|Death looks so clean on Everest. |
(Phurban Sherpa/New York Times)
In a new study of psychotic episodes at extreme altitudes, researchers have determined that high-altitude psychosis is a stand-alone medical illness, rather than a condition stemming from acute altitude sickness as had been previously believed.Read the rest: "High-Altitude Psychosis Seen as Distinct from Altitude Sickness."
High-altitude psychosis is a fairly well-known illness and is frequently mentioned in mountain literature. For example, a mountaineer may suddenly think he is being chased, start talking nonsense or change his route without any real reason.
No, I am not saying people who climb Mount Everest are crazy. Absolutely not. But some people die there. There are famous ones, like George Leigh Mallory (1886–1924), whose body was found — and deliberately left after study — in 1999. (Some people cherish the thought that he and climbing partner Andrew Irvine might have been the first to summit Everest, but it is unlikely.)
And there are others:
Nepal officials estimate that about 200 bodies remain scattered across Everest. A few are so familiar, so well preserved by the subfreezing temperatures, that they serve as macabre mileposts for the living, including one corpse commonly called Green Boots.Others are better-identified:
Not far from where they found Ghosh’s body that morning was another body that Dawa Finjhok Sherpa estimated had been there for five or six years. And somewhere nearby, they knew, was the body of a doctor from Alabama who had died a few days before. There was no plan to bring it down.Yes, leaving the body means there is more money in the estate for the heirs, right? Bringing a body off Everest is expensive!
But some Bengali families were willing to pay, for their own cultural reasons, which makes a fascinating New York Times Magazine story, "Deliverance from 27,000 Feet." Excellent, unflinching photography too.