Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 15:46 UK

Retrieving Everest climber's body 'too risky' - widow

Climber Rob Hall, who died in 1996
Sherpas say they may find the body of well-known climber Rob Hall

The widow of New Zealand climber Rob Hall, who died on Mount Everest in 1996, says it is too risky to retrieve his remains from the mountain.

A team of Nepalese Sherpas are planning a trip up Everest to clean up rubbish and bring back bodies of dead climbers.

Hall always said the "logistics of retrieving a body high on the mountain above 8,000m was virtually impossible", his widow Jan Arnold told the BBC.

The expedition is due to set off from Nepal's capital Kathmandu this weekend.

It is expected to reach Everest's South Col, just below 8,000m (26,200ft), by 1 May.


Jan Arnold, who was pregnant at the time of her husband's death, says he died on the South Summit, at 8,700m, but since then his body has fallen 3,800m down the Kangshung face, towards Tibet.

"He didn't have a desire to have a grave on Mount Everest certainly, but he wouldn't want anyone to risk their lives to bring his remains down," Jan Arnold told the BBC World Service.

"The chance of anyone a) locating it and b) then being able to retrieve it would be crazy - a needle in a haystack, so I think it's unlikely.

"Rob didn't feel the risk to life was worth it, so in that way, that is why he would have preferred to stay."

She says if the remains are found, the family would welcome the chance to bring them down and say farewell.

"But I have never thought that that would be possible, and I certainly don't want people risking their lives because it's too hard to get him off," she adds.

Need to investigate

Seven-times Everest climber Namgyal Sherpa, who is leading the expedition, said they would recover Rob Hall's body only if his family agreed and if no risk was involved.

"We're not sure where Rob Hall's body is. First, we need to go up there to see where it is. We have to investigate. We hear that it might be near the summit, but we don't know for sure," he told the BBC.

"If it has fallen down into China, we don't have permission to go there, so won't be able to pick it up. That will mean leading another expedition next year and we'd have to get permission first.

"If he's fallen into a crevasse or fallen too far, it's too risky and no-one can bring him back.

"But if we find his dead body near the trail, we will see if we can bring him back with the permission of his family."

The Sherpa expedition aims to clean debris from the mountain to preserve the environment and make the mountain safe.

They will work above 8,000m (26,240ft), in what is known as the "death zone" because of the thin air and treacherous conditions.

They expect to bring back the bodies of at least two climbers, including American Scott Fischer, who died in 1996, and Swiss mountaineer Gianni Goltz, who died in 2008.

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