Everest summit of deceased Mongolian climbers confirmed

Officials have confirmed that the two Mongolian climbers, who went missing and later found dead, had reached the summit of Mount Everest before meeting with their tragic fate.

Usukhjargal Tsedendamba, 53, and Purevsuren Lkhagvajav, 31, reached the summit at 11:57 a.m. on May 13, said Rakesh Gurung, chief of the mountaineering section at the Department of Tourism. 

Gurung said that the mobile phones of the deceased climbers show photographic evidence of the summit. 

“The duo reached the summit together, took photos of each other. Although the weather looks fine in the photo, it was a very windy day. They must have run out of energy and oxygen on their descent,” said Pemba Sherpa of 8K Expeditions. 

Photos and videos seen by Everest Chronicle from the mobile phone recovered from the climbers show each of them posing with various flags on the summit and also panoramic videos of Himalayan range taken from the summit.

The duo was part of a nine-member Mongolian expedition organized by 8K Expedition. According to 8K Expedition, the climbers had only paid for base camp services and bottled oxygen and were climbing on their own without Sherpa assistance. Although 8K had requested them to avail of Sherpa support for their climb, they had denied it saying they wanted to conquer the peak by themselves. They headed out to summit on May 10.

Their summit success revelation has added a poignant layer to the tragedy surrounding the two climbers. 

The duo was last seen walking together above camp IV on the morning of May 13th at 8.54am by team of TAG Nepal who were descending without summit due to high wind.  Upon reaching Camp IV, TAG Nepal team reported that the duo was climbing towards the summit despite the bad weather. When 8K expeditions tried to establish radio contact with them to know about their whereabouts, it was discovered that they had left their radio set at Camp IV. It is still unclear why they abandoned their radio sets.

Mongolian climbers were last seen on May 13 at 8.54am right below South Col

A search and rescue mission was launched by officials and expedition organizers after this discovery. But this was significantly delayed due to lack of communication and adverse weather. 

The 8K Expedition had deployed Pechhumbe Sherpa, Ming Nurbu Sherpa, Arjun Karki, and Lanka Ram Tamang for the search and rescue.

This timeline of event coincides with the time of summit recorded in their mobile phones. Almost all the agencies had stalled the summit push and even recalled climbers from the Balcony areas due to strong winds on the morning of May 13. Wind speeds were reported to be up to 70-80 km/hour. The duo was last spotted at 7.25am above camp IV and the time stamp in their summit photos obtained from their mobile phone records show the time of 11.57am, May 13.

On May 16, a climber and a Sherpa guide from Makalu Adventures who were the sole summiteers on that day, reported seeing two dead bodies on their way down from summit. 

Tsedendamba’s body was found hanging on a ladder at 8,750 meters on Friday, May 17th morning, while the body of Lkhagvajav was found a day later on May 18th at 8300 meters, stuck in a cliff. Lkhagvajav’s body was found some 400 meters below that of Tsendendamba. Lakpa from 8K speculates that both climbers perished due to exhaustion and running out of oxygen. It seems likely that the Tsedendamba might have succumbed first, and the younger Lkhagvajav might have tried to assist him. But due to unfavorable weather condition, running out of supplies and oxygen, the younger might have been unable to help Tsedendamba and tried to descend by himself. But the exact nature and cause of their deaths may never be known.

According to DoT officials, efforts are underway to retrieve the body of the climber based on the request of their family who arrived in Kathmandu last week. But it is challenging to bring down their bodies, specially that of Lkhagvajev whose body is stuck in a particularly precarious and tricky cliff.

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