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How Cheruiyot was prepared in case of life-threatening conditions while scaling Mt. Everest without Oxygen support

When Cheruiyot Kirui, a Kenyan banker, was preparing to summit Mt. Everest without a supplement of oxygen, he was well aware of the risks he was exposing himself to.

Conditions he was likely to suffer from for immersing himself into the thin air on the path to the mountain’s summit include HAPE and HACE.

HAPE or High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema, is a serious and potentially fatal condition that can occur when someone ascends to high altitude.

Suffering from this condition can cause several problems, including shortness of breath, fatigue and headache.

On the other hand, HACE, also known as High-Altitude Cerebral Edema, is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the brain swells due to a lack of oxygen at high altitudes.

However, Cheruiyot overlooked the repercussions and armed himself with medicine that could come in handy in case of such emergencies.

For HAPE, the banker equipped himself with nifedipine, which works by relaxing the muscles of your heart and blood vessels.

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On the other hand, Cheruiyot armed himself with dexamethasone which could be put to task in case he suffered from HACE.

He was also well aware that he was susceptible to frostbite due to lack of oxygen in high altitudes and so he equipped himself with several body warmers.

Cheruiyot had a pair of heated gloves, a pair of heated mittens and two spares of heated socks, both with spare batteries.

He also disclosed that his guide, Nawang Sherpa, would carry an extra oxygen tank to be used in case of an emergency.

“Sherpa will ferry an emergency bottle of oxygen to be used; id I go lights out or if I go bananas, if I’m time barred, unfavorable weather, body limit reached: when I realize I’m no superman,” he wrote on Instagram.

How Kibet Cheruiyot was prepared in case of life-threatening conditions while scaling Mt. Everest Oxygen-less - Bizna Kenya
Kibet Cheruiyot’s heated gloves and medicine PHOTO/@cheruiyot_ak/Instagram

Unfortunately, despite his prior preparations, Cheruiyot was not able to summit Mt. Everest as he was found dead in a zone dubbed, ‘Everest’s Death Zone’, above 8,000 metres.

Everest Today, which covers mountaineering over the Himalayas, announced his death in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, saying, “with profound sadness who share the news of Kenyan mountaineer Cheruiyot Kibet’s passing on Mt. Everest. His body was found a few meters below the summit point of Mt. Everest.”

Before this harrowing discovery, Cheruiyot and his guide were reported missing after they lost contact at Bishop Rock.

The news was shared by Mingma Sharpa, the CEO of Seven Summit Treks (SST), a mountaineering company based in Kathmandu, Nepal, which was in communication with the two.

The company immediately launched a search party which is believed to have led to the discovery of Cheruiyot’s body.
At the time of this publishing, it is understood that Nawang is still missing.

The first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen was achieved by Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler on May 8, 1978.

They had built up experience on other tall mountains before attempting the feat on Everest.

Messner later described the experience as a “state of spiritual abstraction” where he felt like “a single narrow gasping lung, floating over the mists and summits”.

At the time, many in the medical community were concerned that climbing Everest without oxygen was physiologically impossible and a suicide mission.

However, Messner and Habeler proved the skeptics wrong.

Messner went on to climb Everest solo without oxygen in 1980 and became the first person to climb all 14 of the world’s 8,000m peaks without supplemental oxygen in 1986.
Since Messner and Habeler’s pioneering ascent, fewer than 200 people have climbed Everest without oxygen out of the over 4,000 who have reached the summit.

It remains an incredibly difficult and dangerous feat.

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