Why it will cost up to Ksh9 million to retrieve body of Kenyan climber who died on Mt Everest

Kenyan mountaineer Cheruiyot Kirui who met his death while attempting to summit Mt Everest.

Why it will cost up to Ksh9 million to retrieve body of Kenyan climber who died on Mt Everest

Joel Omotto 14:21 - 25.05.2024

Kenyan mountaineer Cheruiyot Kirui met his death while attempting to summit Mt Everest and just liking getting up was challenging, bringing his body down will be an expensive task.

The family of Kenyan mountaineer Cheruiyot Kirui, who was found dead on Mt Everest, will need up to Ksh9 million to retrieve his body.

Kirui went missing above 8,000 metres on Wednesday as he attempted to summit Mt Everest, in Nepal, the world’s highest mountain, throwing his family and friends into a state of shock and grief.

Unconfirmed reports have claimed Kirui met his death because he was on a daring mission to reach the summit of the mountain without supplemental oxygen but his colleagues have defended him, saying with his experience, it was unlikely that he took such risks.

The 40-year-old banker was an experienced mountaineer who took on over 50 mountaineering challenges, including climbing Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro.

However, getting his body to Kenya for burial will stretch his family’s patience while it will be an expensive affair.

Bringing bodies down from Mt Everest is a very risky and costly task given mountaineers are faced with extreme cold, dangerously low levels of oxygen and inhospitable conditions.

As per Ultimate Kilimanjaro, the high-altitude environment and extreme conditions on Everest pose significant obstacles to recovery operations and according to them, it is highly inefficient, impractical, and dangerous to move frozen bodies, which can weigh over 136 kg.

Helicopters can come in handy in the recovery process given the highest elevation that the choppers can land is Camp 2, located 21,000 feet (6,400 metres), since the air density on the upper slopes cannot allow them to operate.

The highest helicopter rescue ever on Everest was at 25,590 feet (7,800 metres) in 2013, done in calm weather conditions.

Kirui’s body was found a few metres below the summit of Mt Everest, whose summit, 26,247 feet, is known as the ‘death zone.’

The tough conditions, coupled with the high cost of body recovery make it impossible for most families to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones since the exercise also requires great expertise.

Final repatriation costs can go up to $70,000 (Ksh9 million) and it is for this reason that a lot of fallen climbers remain on the mountain where they died with their families conducting funeral ceremonies back home.

The Ultimate Kilimanjaro states that at least 300 mountaineers have died on Mt Everest and there are still 200 bodies on the mountain. However, Kirui’s friends and family are not losing hope.

“The information is still scarce but at least we are happy that the location of his body has been identified. I am in a group with his brother and some of Kirui’s friends and the plan is to figure out how to bring his body down,” Kirui’s hiking friend Limo Kipkemboi told Nation.

“Usually, there are two factors that determine whether a body comes down or not. One is the cost because it is very expensive to bring the body down. The second is the weather. The weather has to allow it, if it doesn’t, then the body stays there. These are the options we will be looking at.”

As Kirui’s family and friends seek ways to bring their kin back home, there is hope that he will be among the heroes whose bodies have been retrieved from Mt Everest given he needed Ksh7.5 million for his daring mission.

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