Everest clean-up team finds five bodies

26 May 2010 - 16:12 By AFP - Sophia Tamot

A team of 20 Sherpas on a clean-up mission on Mount Everest has come across five bodies and collected over 2.5 tonnes of rubbish.

The Sherpas left for Everest in late April to collect garbage left behind by climbers and to retrieve the bodies of some who had died in the mountain's "death zone" above 8,000 metres, where oxygen levels are a third of those at sea level.

Coordinator Chakra Karki told AFP that the team had found as many as five bodies, including that of American Scott Fisher, who was a guide on the mountain during the infamous 1996 disaster described in the best-selling book "Into Thin Air".

"We came across Fisher's body ... and took pictures but did not touch him," Karki told AFP by telephone from base camp.

"His family has not given us permission to remove his body and we respect their decision," he said.

The team has already brought back the bodies of two climbers -- Swiss Gianni Goltz who died in 2008 and Russian Duganov Sergey who died this year -- having obtained the consent of their families. Since 1953, there have been some 300 deaths on Everest. Many

bodies have been brought down, but those above 8,000 metres have generally been left to the elements -- their bodies preserved by

the freezing temperatures.