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Tough for rescuers if missing climber falls to Mount Lhotse base, says Everest veteran

M Magendran, the first Malaysian to conquer the summit of Mount Everest, says the neighbouring mountain has very steep slopes.

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Mountaineers ascend the South face to summit Mount Everest in Nepal. Photo: AFP
Mountaineers ascend the South face to summit Mount Everest in Nepal. Photo: AFP

A difficult task await members of the search and rescue (SAR) team if hearing-impaired climber Muhammad Hawari Hashim, who was reported missing in the Everest mountain range, falls to the base of Mount Lhotse, said M Magendran, the first Malaysian to set foot on Mount Everest peak.

He said the slopes of Mount Lhotse are very steep and if climbers slip, they would likely fall to the glaciers at the mountain's base.

"The area at the foot of Mount Lhotse is quite wide and it will take a long time to search. Moreover, if the victim fell into the ice fissure, the search efforts will be more difficult," he said in an online interview with Bernama TV yesterday.

Magendran said, however, it is not impossible for the SAR team to find the victim based on his experience in 1997 when a sherpa, who slipped and fell down the slopes of Mount Lhotse from a height of 1,000m, was successfully found.

He also expressed concern about whether Hawari brought enough oxygen supply to descend the dangerous slopes of Mount Lhotse.
“If he had used oxygen all the way up to the Mount Everest summit, the supply would not be sufficient to get him down the mountain to Camp 4... but it is also possible that he changed the oxygen tank mid-way.

"I'm not sure if he changed to a new oxygen tank or brought more with him before descending to either Camp 3 or Camp 2. (But) if there is insufficient oxygen supply, a person can suffer from acute mountain sickness which can lead to delusions," he said.

Yesterday, Hawari, 33, who was on the Malaysia Everest 2023 (ME 2023) mission, was reported to have gone missing while descending from Camp 4 after conquering the world's highest peak.

The day before, another ME 2023 participant, Kedah civil defence force director Lt Col Awang Askandar Ampuan Yaacub, 56, was reported to have died while on a climbing mission of Mount Everest.

Organised by Altitude Exploration Club, ME 2023 started the two-month mission to conquer the world's highest peak on April 2 with the support of the government and the youth and sports ministry.
Meanwhile, national climber Muhamad Muqharabbin Mokhtarrudin said ministry and the expedition organiser should conduct a thorough investigation because this is the first such incident involving a Malaysian climber since 1997.

He said that summiting Everest is no easy feat, as it requires not only extensive preparation and training but also prior experience with steep snow climbing.

"Even if we have money and sponsors, we may not be able to summit Everest. I had to train for over two years at home and abroad, and I visited Nepal several times before conquering Everest in 2004.

"I had to adapt to the mountains in Nepal for two months before reaching the summit on May 16, 2004. This is to ensure that our bodies are fit and able to survive in frigid temperatures and unpredictable weather," he said in a statement yesterday.

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