Kenyan found dead after going missing on Everest

Kenyan mountain climber Cheruiyot Kirui
Cheruiyot Kirui is the fourth person to die on Everest this week [JAMES MUHIA]

A Kenyan mountaineer who went missing near the summit of Mount Everest has been found dead.

Forty-year-old Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui and his Nepali guide Nawang Sherpa, 44, disappeared on Wednesday during Mr Kirui's bid to become the first African to climb Mt Everest without extra oxygen.

The guide is yet to be found by the search team that had been deployed to locate the pair, a local tourism official told AFP news agency.

Climbing Everest, the world's highest peak, is considered extremely difficult and risky, even for experienced climbers.

Nepalese newspaper the Himalayan Times quoted Mr Sherpa informing the base camp that Mr Kirui had showed "abnormal behaviour" and "refused to return and even consume bottled oxygen".

Contact with the duo was lost shortly after the message, base camp officials told the paper.

Mr Kirui's close hiking friend, Kipkemoi Limo, told the BBC that he died from a fall.

He added that his family and friends are enquiring whether Mr Kirui gave consent to be buried on Everest, or whether he wished for his body to be repatriated to Kenya, which will cost $190,000 (£150,000).

Last week, Mr Kirui told the BBC that he had undergone extensive physical preparations ahead of the challenge, with his descent planned for Wednesday.

"The major/specific preparation was climbing Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world in 2023 September," he wrote in an email to the BBC.

"However I've been climbing locally in Kenya, many stair climbs, gym workouts and running as specific preparation. Also for 10 years I've climbed, ran marathons and ultra marathons which adds to the general preparations".

In his latest Instagram post, Mr Kirui had expressed confidence that he could conquer Everest without additional oxygen.

He however told the BBC that he had emergency oxygen support from Mr Sherpa and an emergency evacuation cover in case he ran into difficulties.

He was a banker with one of Kenya's biggest lenders.

News of the death has hit the Kenyan mountain climbing community hard.

"Our brother now rests on the mountain. It's been a long night," fellow Kenyan mountaineer James Muhia, who had been sharing regular updates about Mr Kirui's attempt, said on X (formerly Twitter).

In an earlier post, Mr Muhia backed Mr Kirui to complete the climb, saying he was properly equipped, physically capable, resilient and well trained.

He told the BBC that he had joined Mr Kirui on last year's summit to Manaslu.

Mr Kirui's death is the fourth recorded on Everest this week.

A Romanian climber and a British climber and his Nepalese guide were also found dead on Tuesday, the Himalayan Times reported.

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