Dutch climber dies on way back from Everest summit

Another climber was helped down from the mountain

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2015, file photo, Mt. Everest is seen from the way to Kalapatthar in Nepal. A 35-year-old Dutch man suffering from high-altitude sickness died on his way back from Mount Everest’s summit in the first death reported this year on the world’s highest mountain, an expedition organizer said Saturday, May 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Tashi Sherpa, File)

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A 35-year-old Dutch man suffering from high-altitude sickness died on his way back from Mount Everest’s summit in the first death reported this year on the world’s highest mountain, an expedition organizer said Saturday.

Eric Arnold died near the South Col on Friday night, said Pasang Phurba of the Seven Summit Treks agency in Kathmandu.

Arnold had enough bottled oxygen with him as well as climbing partners, but he complained of getting weak and died before he was able to come down to a lower altitude, Phurba said.

He said that more details were not available because of poor communication with the crew on the mountain, and that it would take days and several people to bring Arnold’s body down the slopes.

Arnold was from the Dutch city of Rotterdam, according to his Twitter account. The last Twitter post, made Friday, said, “Mountain climber Eric Arnold reaches the summit of Mount Everest at the fifth attempt.”

Meanwhile, a 45-year-old woman from Norway, Siv Harstad, was helped down from the top of Everest on Saturday by two Sherpa guides after suffering from snow blindness, Norwegian news agency NTB said.

The two incidents come as Nepal’s mountaineering community is still recovering from the past two climbing seasons, which were hit by disasters. Nepal’s devastating earthquake last year caused an avalanche that killed 19 people at base camp, and in 2014, an avalanche above base camp killed 16 Sherpa guides.

Favorable weather has allowed hundreds of climbers to scale the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) mountain since last week. More than 330 climbers have reached the summit from Nepal since May 11, and several more have done so from the northern routes in Tibet.

The popular spring climbing season began in March and runs through May. After it ends, harsh weather conditions make it especially difficult to climb.

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