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Accidents

Hong Kong man dies climbing on Mount Everest

Christopher Lam reportedly fell ill when the group he was with reached Everest Base Camp, about 5,000 metres above sea level

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2018, 9:35pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 11:19am

A Hongkonger has died of altitude sickness trying to climb around Mount Everest, it was confirmed on Tuesday.

Christopher Lam Koon-wah, an IT technician at Polytechnic University’s Pao Yue-kong Library, arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, with a group of about 10 people including his wife, also from Hong Kong, on May 6. The next day, they reached Lukla in eastern Nepal, a town that is the starting point for most climbers taking their route, the Everest Base Camp Trek.

Lam, who was in his 40s, reportedly fell ill on ­Sunday when the group neared ­Everest Base Camp, at about 5,000 metres above sea level.

His condition worsened and his teammates’ attempts to treat him failed. He was said to have died of high-altitude cerebral oedema.

The group had planned to climb to Kalapather, at 5,550 metres the highest point and final goal of their excursion, on May 14. They planned to return to Hong Kong May 20.

The group, which was organised by the Hong Kong-based International Outdoor Training Centre, told media they were handling the transport of Lam’s body.

A spokeswoman from the university said it was deeply saddened at the loss of Lam, who had worked there since 2000. It offered its condolences to Lam’s family.

A spokesman from Hong Kong’s Immigration Department said it had contacted the Chinese embassy in Nepal after receiving a request for assistance from the family.

Lam and his wife were reportedly both outdoor sports enthusiasts and had posted photographs of themselves reaching Taiwan’s Xueshan, the second-highest mountain in East Asia.

The organiser’s Facebook page said it had held classes for the team on how to cope with potential dangers when climbing at such high altitudes.

The bodily demands of climbing so high can take their toll even on seasoned climbers.

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Veteran mountaineer Chung Kin-man, who conquered Everest in 2003, said he needed to take a break every 500 metres to help his body get used to the decreased oxygen levels.

“If you made a left if someone asked you to go right, and if you have a serious headache, then you need to be careful and arrange treatment and a descent as soon as possible,” Chung said.

He advised climbers to have a medical check before such a journey, adding that even healthy people could fall victim to altitude sickness.