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Delving into the Chilling Lore of Rainbow Valley on Mt Everest

Towering 29,032 feet tall, Mount Everest stands as the ultimate climbing challenge. However, the tallest peak on Earth conceals a dark secret – the grimly named “Rainbow Valley”, the final resting place for numerous climbers who perished in Everest’s notorious death zone.

Rainbow Valley on Mt Everest

What is Rainbow Valley on mt Everest?

Rainbow Valley, situated just below the northern ridge of Mount Everest, spans over 26,000 feet. Its peculiar and haunting name derives from the vividly colored jackets and equipment that encase the numerous lifeless bodies scattered across this desolate and remote valley.

Over 300 climbers have tragically lost their lives on Mount Everest since its first ascent in 1953. Those who perish in the perilous “death zone”, situated high above Everest’s slopes, are often pushed off the main route and left to rest in Rainbow Valley. As mountaineers ascend Everest, they inevitably encounter the haunting sight of bodies mummifying in the frigid alpine air as they pass through this desolate valley.

Why Are Bodies Left in Rainbow Valley on Mount Everest?

The rugged terrain and weather conditions are the primary deterrents keeping climbers from retrieving bodies. At such extreme altitudes, the body rapidly weakens from oxygen starvation and bone-chilling temperatures around -40°F. The jagged landscape also poses significant dangers for recovery teams. Attempting to return a fallen climber often puts additional lives at risk with little hope of success.

Furthermore, most climbers accept potential death as a cost of summit ambitions. They would not want scarce resources devoted to dangerous recovery, which may prevent others from achieving their dreams. Thus, corpses unfortunately remain abandoned across Rainbow Valley, serving as a stark warning to those with designs on Everest’s summit.

The Infamous Death Zone on Mount Everest

The “death zone” refers to the areas on Mount Everest above 26,000 feet where oxygen levels plunge to around 30% of those at sea level. Climbers rely on bottled oxygen to avoid debilitating altitude sickness, frostbite and impaired judgement.

Over 200 lives have been lost in Everest’s death zone thus far. Most bodies consigned to Rainbow Valley are victims of the many threats in this aptly named domain.

What Makes Mount Everest’s Death Zone So Deadly?

As if meagre oxygen and feminizing temperatures weren’t enough, Everest’s summit bid features blasting winds and frequent, erratic storms. Gusts can exceed 175 km/hr in the death zone, blowing a climber right off the peak’s narrow ridges.

The route is also tremendously treacherous – a cramped, knife-edge spine of loose rock and ice prone to avalanches. During peak climbing seasons, lethal bottlenecks form as scores of climbers vie for position, stuck for hours in the death zone’s thin air.

Under such conditions, frozen lungs, enervating weariness and muddled thinking come swiftly. Poor decisions spelt disaster for many ambitious yet unprepared souls perishing in Everest’s ruthless deathtrap zone.

Haunting Tales of Rainbow Valley’s Nameless Dead

Though gruesome, some bodies littering Rainbow Valley have backstories reaching legendary status in mountaineering circles. A few of Everest’s fallen earned harrowing nicknames over the years as they silently stood watch over subsequent generations of climbers.

“Green Boots” – Mount Everest Most Famous Corpse

"Green Boots" – Mount Everest Most Famous Corpse

Arguably, Everest’s most well-known body belongs to a climber found in a small cave wearing neon green Koflach boots. Speculation is that Green Boots is Tsewang Paljor, an Indian climber who has been missing since the 1996 Everest disaster.

While his identity remains unverified, Green Boots has become a familiar landmark for passersby. There is something eerily haunting knowing this ambitious soul remains forever frozen near the zenith he gave his life pursuing.

Francis Arsentiev – The “Sleeping Beauty” of Mount Everest

Francis Arsentiev – The “Sleeping Beauty” of Mount Everest

Another famous figure frozen in time is believed to be Francys Arsentiev, the first American woman to reach Everest’s peak without bottled oxygen in 1998.

Sadly, she would never return from her victorious summit. Stranded for days, she barely clung to life before ultimately perishing high on the slopes. Her body earned the chilling moniker “Sleeping Beauty” and continues resting in the icy grasp of the mountain over two decades later.

Hannelore Schmatz – Mount Everest’s First Female Fatality

Hannelore Schmatz – Mount Everest’s First Female Fatality

While not Everest’s only female victim, German climber Hannelore Schmatz earned her tragic pedigree, becoming the first officially recognized woman to die on the mountain in 1979.

Despite being an accomplished mountaineer, Everest’s volatile death zone weather proved too ruthless even for her. Hannelore and fellow climber Ray Genet huddled together against the roaring winds, seeking shelter from a fearsome blizzard. By morning, both had frozen to death, their bodies entangled in rope, binding them eternally to the mountain that claimed their lives.

So despite humble intentions, the fallen of Rainbow Valley remain captive on Everest, their colourful shrouds fluttering like prayer flags, beckoning caution to subsequent climbers who likewise dare to tempt fate in the death zone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where exactly is Rainbow Valley located?

Rainbow Valley stretches below Everest’s northern ridge at over 8,000 meters in the mountain’s notorious death zone.

How did Rainbow Valley get its name?

It was dubbed “Rainbow Valley” because of the colourful jackets and climbing gear covering the numerous corpses that litter the landscape.

Why are dead bodies left on Mount Everest?

The terrain and weather at such high altitudes make body retrieval extremely risky. For most climbers, leaving the dead is an accepted risk.

How many bodies remain on Everest today?

There are over 300 corpses still on Everest, with around 200 in the death zone and Rainbow Valley area. Preservation by ice and temperatures means bodies can remain for decades.

With its colourful yet chilling epithet, Rainbow Valley serves as a cautionary landmark reinforcing the imposing dangers Everest’s death zone presents those who dare to ascend. Its unfortunate tales and inhabitants teach all climbers that the roof of the world makes no exceptions for experience, preparation or ambition. Respect for Everest includes accepting Rainbow Valley’s eternal place on the path to its unfathomable summit.

dhia errahmane nedjai

Dhia is an aspiring travel writer who researches and writes content about interesting destinations, places worth discovering, and fascinating facts and mysteries about locations around the world in order to inspire wanderlust in readers.

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