A Canadian woman who died during her descent from Mount Everest had spent years dreaming about the climb that ultimately killed her.
Shriya Shah-Klorfine, a 33-year-old resident of Toronto, was among three climbers killed on the weekend, during their descent from the summit.
Her husband, Bruce Klorfine, said his wife "died in the pursuit of her dreams, and with the satisfaction of having achieved them," according to a statement he emailed to The Canadian Press.
Shah-Klorfine was born in Nepal, grew up in Mumbai, India, before marrying her husband and moving to Canada.
Her godfather, Bikram Lamba, said Shah-Klorfine had grown up being captivated by Everest and long dreamed of climbing it.
"She was born in Nepal. When she would rise up in the morning, she would look at the beauty and the mystique of the Everest, surrounded by the clouds and the sun rising behind the clouds, illuminating the Everest," Lamba told CBC News in an interview on Monday.
"She moved to Mumbai for her education and the dream never left her."
Lamba said Shah-Klorfine mortgaged her house to pay for the Everest expedition, at a cost of nearly $100,000.
She trained by walking hills around her home near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue, while wearing a 20-kilogram backpack.
Last year, Shah-Klorfine was a candidate for Mississauga East-Cooksville in the last Ontario election as a member of the Paramount Canadians Party.
2 additional climbers killed, 2 others missing
Gyanendra Shrestha of Nepal's Mountaineering Department said Monday that Shah was among three climbers believed to have been killed, along with Eberhard Schaaf, a 61-year-old German doctor and Song Won-bin, a mountaineer from South Korea.
The missing climbers are a Chinese national and his Nepalese Sherpa guide.
The first clear weather conditions of the spring climbing season were Friday and Saturday, but a windstorm swept the higher altitudes of the mountain by Saturday afternoon, said Shrestha.
An estimated 150 climbers reached the summit on either day, most of them on Saturday.
"There was a traffic jam on the mountain on Saturday. Climbers were still heading to the summit as late as 2:30 p.m. which is quite dangerous," Shrestha told The Associated Press by telephone from Everest's base camp.
Climbers suffered exhaustion
Climbers are advised not to attempt to reach the summit after 11 a.m. The area above the last camp at South Col is nicknamed the "death zone" because of the steep icy slope, treacherous conditions and low oxygen level.
"With the traffic jam, climbers had a longer wait for their chance to go up the trail and spent too much time at higher altitude. Many of them are believed to be carrying limited amount of oxygen not anticipating the extra time spent," Shrestha said.
Alberta’s Sharon Wood said she was sorry to hear of a fellow Canadian’s death on Everest, but was not surprised that it happened.
"People are surprised when people die up there," Wood told CBC News in a telephone interview from Canmore, Alta. "I could have died up there, anybody could die up there."
Wood is well aware of the dangers of climbing Everest, having done it herself more than 25 years ago.
She said a mishap as small as a lost glove can lead to death.
"There’s all kinds of things that can happen at altitude and it’s no surprise that people die up there," she said.
The three climbers who died Saturday were believed to have suffered exhaustion and altitude sickness.
Weather conditions are clear enough to permit climbing to Everest's 8,850-metre peak for only a short time in May.
On May 10, 1996, eight people died on what is believed to be the worst day on Everest. The main reason was said to be that climbers who started their ascents late in the day were caught in a snowstorm that swept the mountain in the afternoon.