French climber dies on Makalu


A French climber has died on Mount Makalu, the world’s fifth highest peak, expedition organizers said on Tuesday. This is the second death on the mountain this year.

Johnny Saliba (60) died on Sunday at an altitude of 8,120 m just before he was to venture the last distance to the summit.

“He was on his way to the summit, but his guide brought him down after experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness,” said Bodha Raj Bhandari, expedition organizer at Snowy Horizon Treks and Expedition.

Bhandari says Saliba’s family has been informed and efforts to bring his body back are ongoing.

Saliba was part of a French team on the 8,485 m high mountain. The other members returned safely to base camp.

Last week, a 53-year-old Nepali guide died on Makalu while he was climbing down the mountain after reaching the summit. Lakpa Tenji Sherpa accompanied foreign climbers.

Nepal has granted 59 permits to foreign climbers for Makalu this year. It costs $1 800 (about R33 100) each, compared to $11 000 (about R202 000) for Mount Everest – and dozens of climbers have reached the peak after the lead team reached the summit last month.

Nepal has issued more than 900 permits for mountain climbers this year, including 414 for Everest, which brings the country an income of around $5 million (R91 million).