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Kenyan mountaineer dies on Everest as he attempts to summit without supplemental oxygen

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(LONDON) — Kenyan mountaineer Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui, who went missing with his guide on Wednesday morning on Mount Everest, has been found dead, officials announced Thursday.

Kirui’s body was found 62 feet, or about 19 meters, below Everest’s peak, Nepal’s Department of Tourism said.

Kirui had been on a mission to summit the world’s highest peak without supplementary oxygen, attempting to become the first African to achieve the feat. He went missing above the Hillary Step.

“A no-oxygen attempt comes with its special preparations and risks,” Kirui wote on Instagram before his summit attempt. “Finally. Tonight we head up. Summit Rotation. After 10 basecamp days.”

He was accompanied by a Nepalese climber and guide, Nawang Sherpa, whose fate remains unknown. Search teams have been deployed to the mountain.

Kirui wrote that he had made extensive preparations for his summit: “Nawang Sherpa will ferry an emergency bottle of oxygen to be used; if I go lights out or if I go bananas. If I’m time barred, unfavourable weather, body limit reached: when I realize I’m no superman.”

Kirui’s death takes this week’s toll on Everest to at least three, following the deaths of two Mongolian climbers who had gone missing on May 12.

British climber Daniel Paterson and his Nepali guide, Pas Tenji Sherpa, also remain missing after their expedition was hit on Tuesday by icefall on Everest’s northern slope.

“Waiting patiently for a summit window,” wrote Paterson — a fitness trainer from Wakefield, U.K. — in an Instagram post before going missing.

Standing at 8,848 meters, Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. Approximately 800 people attempt to summit the mountain annually, and officials said over 450 climbers have already scaled the mountain from the Nepali side this climbing season. Over 100,000 people visit the Sagarmatha National Park in the Himalayas of northeast Nepal every year.

Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler were the first men to summit Everest without supplemental Oxygen, achieving the feat in May of 1978.

In 2022, James Kagambi became the first Kenyan to reach Everest’s peak, reaching the summit at the age of 62.

“His indomitable will and passion for mountaineering will forever be an inspiration,” the publication Everest Today wrote of Kirui. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends during this time of sorrow.”

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