Tuesday, June 18, 2024

“As I send my body and spirit up there…” Cheruiyot Kirui’s final words

Kenyan banker and mountaineer Cheruiyot Kirui was on Thursday found dead near the summit of Mount Everest. He was found dead about a day after he went missing.

Cheruiyot was on a daring mission to reach the summit without supplementary oxygen and was accompanied by a Nepali climber Nawang Sherpa.

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All through his quest to summit Mt Everest whose elevation (snow height) is at an astonishing 8,848.86 meters  or 29,031 feet, Cheruiyot Kirui had been updating Kenyans on his social platforms about hsi progress. His final update about five days ago has now turned out to have been his final words to his followers and to Kenyans who supported his courageous quest.

These were Cheruiyot Kirui’s final words to Kenyans as he set out to summit the tallest mountain in the world:


“It’s been 10 Basecamp days. Days of inactivity except eating, sleeping, watching the weather and a few nearby hikes to keep the body honest. Such idle days aren’t good for business, many stories playing rounds, others clearly sent to shake the roots of my faith.

And not being a particularly brave person, some withered me a little until I’d find time to myself and rebuild my defenses through review of the logic and science in support of this attempt. So you can figure how exciting it is to get back to action.

But there were parties in honour of successful summits. Kazakh party was particularly lively celebrating first Kazakh woman summiting Everest (powered by Kenyan armband)a regular party with cake, dancing, hard drinks, soft drinks (beer). Here for once my nonexistent dance moves placed me in the top 50%, heck make it 90% (I have videos but we all know data is prohibitively expensive here)

And now my plan:

A no-oxygen attempt comes with its special preparations and risks, it’s no accident that only 3% of successful Everest summits are without oxygen, and that 3% is a success rate of about 30% ( hoping we’ve not lost you there) of attempts by mostly professional mountaineers and alpinists.

Physically my body has had its share of battering and although it may not like me anymore, it’s ready for this. On the other risks, I’m taking the following measures;

Cold: Without oxygen one is much more susceptible to frostbite compared to climbers on oxygen. So apart from the usual summit suit, boots and mittens I’ve gone one extra;

Hands: A pair of heated gloves, a pair of heated mittens with a spare set of batteries.

Feet: Two pairs of heated socks with a spare set of batteries.

Meds: I’m susceptible to HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) having played host to it twice. This time I expected a visit and once it happened I was ready with Nifedipine.

For HACE ( High Altitude Cerebral Edema) more dangerous up there, I have Dexamethasone. And the usual Acetazolamide just in case. Manaslu as a curtain raiser was a great idea, I’d have otherwise shown up here still on the learning curve.

Emergency oxygen: Nawang Sherpa will ferry an emergency bottle of oxygen to be used under the following circumstances;

If I go lights out or if I go bananas

If I’m time barred: too much time in the death zone is dangerous. If I’m not moving strongly or quickly enough then there’s no point.

Unfavorable weather: If the weather turns against our respected forecasters (as it happened on 12th) and the exposure is dangerous.

Body limit reached: If the body is fed up and can’t handle the grind and I realize I’m not superman.

Missing Kenyan Cheruiyot Kirui found dead on Mount Everest’s Death Zone

Traffic jam: My initial plan was to climb from the Tibet/North side to avoid traffic. But here we are, hopefully we get to avoid it, but if it leads to dangerous inactivity and exposure in the death zone then we’ll weigh our options.

This attempt therefore looks a lot like a shot in the dark, but we know where the darkness is, and our shot is aimed in there. So as I send my body and spirit up there, I’ll sit with the rest of you and wait in anticipation for the outcome. Naturally the uncertainties add much more to the thrill of this undertaking.

And finally some clarification

I’d mentioned I was to head up for a third rotation. That’s true. But what you know as third rotation I know as summit rotation or summit push.

Therefore, after heavy investment physically, mentally, timewise (this expedition is taking more than a month from a regular 8 to 5 banker), financially (the amount of zeros needed to make this happen means I declare bankruptcy immediately I land back in Kenya)…it’s now the moment of truth.

As usual we reconvene here in a few days to see how things will have turned out.”

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