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Details of Canadian's ill-fated Everest climb revealed

Last Updated: Sep 14, 2012

On May 19, 2012, Shriya Shah-Klorfine stood on top of the world after an agonizingly slow climb up Mount Everest. Against all odds, she had made her dream come true. But in the hours to follow, things would go dreadfully wrong in the oxygen-thin area known as Everest's "death zone".

CBC's the fifth estate gained exclusive access to Shriya Shah-Klorfine and her climbing team's videos and pictures as they attempted to summit and descend the famous peak. Explore the multimedia elements in the interactive timeline below as we trace her steps and examine what happened on her fateful journey.

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Base Camp

April - May, 2012 | Altitude: 5,364m

Zoom(Photo: Jon Kedrowski) After approximately two weeks of hiking, Shriya Shah-Klorfine arrived at Everest Base Camp, pitching a tent with her large photo on it. The sprawling camp is home to hundreds of climbers and sherpas during the brief weather window in May when climbing Everest is at its safest. Along with other members of the Utmost Adventure team, they settled in and spent about a week adjusting to the high altitude.

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Khumbu Icefall

April - May, 2012 | Altitude: 5,486m

Zoom(Photo: Utmost Adventure Trekking) Shah-Klorfine spent many hours training at the Khumbu Icefall, just above Base Camp. The area is considered to be one of the most dangerous parts of the Everest climb because of sudden ice and rock falls. Climbers must balance themselves as they walk across laddered crevasses while wearing crampons - something Shah-Klorfine had never done before. Members of Shah-Klorfine's expedition team were also carrying heavy backpacks as they made the treacherous crossings.

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Camp One

April - May, 2012 | Altitude: 6,100m

Zoom(Photo: Utmost Adventure Trekking) Climbers rotate through three high camps over several weeks during their acclimatization, the gradual process of adjusting to the increasingly less compressed and therefore thinner air. After spending weeks rotating through the camps, climbers can then make their final summit attempt more safely. Shah-Klorfine spent a night at Camp One during her acclimatization.

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Camp Two

April - May, 2012 | Altitude: 6,600m

Zoom(Photo courtesy of Bruce Klorfine) Everyone with Shah-Klorfine's team says she never showed any signs of potentially fatal altitude sickness.

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Camp Three

May 18, 2012 | Altitude: 7,200m

Zoom(Photo: Utmost Adventure Trekking) On her push to summit, Shah-Klorfine left Camp Three at 6 a.m. on May 18 with her two sherpas, Dawa Dendi and Temba Sherpa. Shah-Klorfine, like many climbers, used oxygen from Camp Three onwards.

Most climbers would have already stayed overnight at Camp Three once before during their acclimatization rotations. Shah-Klorfine and her team skipped this step. According to a brief diary she kept, she only went 60 per cent of the way there. The trip to Camp Three - the final step in acclimatizaton - is considered critical to proper adjustment to the increasingly thin air.

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Lhotse Face

May 18, 2012 | Altitude: 7,315m

Zoom(Photo: Utmost Adventure Trekking) As Shah-Klorfine and her sherpas began climbing the Lhotse Face - a virtual wall of ice and rock that is climbed in a single file - lineups of other climbers were already forming around them.


Camp Four

May 18, 2012 | Altitude: 8,300m

Zoom(Photo: Utmost Adventure Trekking) After eight hours of climbing, Shah-Klorfine, Temba and Dawa Dendi arrived at Camp Four at 2 p.m. on May 18. They rested for a few hours and had a small dinner before departing at 7:30 p.m. and climbing through the night, as most do when attempting to summit Everest. Shah-Klorfine seemed fatigued and her sherpas started becoming concerned about her at this point, but she refused to turn back.

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Hillary Step

May 18, 2012 | Altitude: 8,790m

Zoom(Shriya Shah-Klorfine) Following a night of climbing, Shah-Klorfine and her sherpas came across the worst crowding yet at the Hillary Step, the last challenge to reaching the summit. The rocky knife edge can only be traversed in single file, so the trio had to wait for several hours in the frigid air. The owner of Utmost Adventure Trekking, Ganesh Thakuri, passed Shah-Klorfine on his own push to the summit. He would pass her again on his descent - this time realizing Shah-Klorfine was close to running out of oxygen. Thakuri asked Shah-Klorfine to turn back, but she refused. He then gave her an extra oxygen tank and continued his descent.



May 19, 2012 | Altitude: 8,840m

Zoom(Shriya Shah-Klorfine) At around 2:20 p.m. on May 19, Shah-Klorfine, Temba and Dawa Dendi reached the summit. By this point they had been climbing for 19 hours, but still spent about 25 minutes on the peak of Everest savouring the moment.

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RELATED LINK: Everest statistics
Find out more about the growing number of ascents, stats by nationality and the number and type of fatalities on Everest.


Location of death

May 19, 2012 | Approximate altitude: 8,500m

Zoom(Shriya Shah-Klorfine) Shah-Klorfine barely got halfway back to Camp Four on her descent before succumbing to exhaustion and running out of oxygen. An experienced climber can typically complete the round trip between Camp Four and the summit in approximately 13 hours. By the time she passed away at around 10 p.m. on the night of May 19, Shah-Klorfine had been climbing for 27 hours.

Watch the full episode | the fifth estate: Into the death zone

media clip Video: Into the Death Zone

Into the Death Zone

New, exclusive revelations into the death of a Canadian woman on Mt. Everest.