Mount Everest Deaths: Shriya Shah-Klorfine Of Toronto Among 4 Dead On Descent (PHOTOS)

CP  |  By Posted: Updated: 05/23/2012 8:52 am

KATHMANDU, Nepal - A Canadian woman has died pursuing her dream of scaling Mount Everest.

Shriya Shah-Klorfine, of Toronto, was among four people who died while descending from the summit Saturday in what are being described as overcrowded conditions.

"My wife was someone who lived life to its fullest, with irrepressible energy and vitality," her husband Bruce Klorfine said in a statement emailed to The Canadian Press.

Photos of Shriya Shah-Klorfine and Everest

"She died in the pursuit of her dreams, and with the satisfaction of having achieved them."

Shah-Klorfine's website said she was the first South Asian woman from Canada to make the attempt to raise the Canadian flag at the top of the world's highest peak.

"Her ambition is to become Canada's 4th Canadian woman to make the climb and encouraging the youth and helping SickKids hospital" said a statement on a website dedicated to Shah-Klorfine's Everest expedition.

Two of the climbers who died were believed to have suffered exhaustion and altitude sickness, Nepali mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha said. Two others were initially reported missing Monday as officials were still gathering details from descending climbers.

However, officials later reported they had found the body of a Chinese climber, Wang-yi Fa, 55. His Nepalese Sherpa guide was still missing.

Shah-Klorfine and Fa were killed when the mountainside was hit by strong winds, according to Dipendra Paude of Nepal's tourism ministry.

The two other victims were identified as German doctor Eberhard Schaaf, 62, and 44-year-old South Korean mountaineer Song Won-bin.

The death toll raised concerns about overcrowding in what's known as the ``death zone'' at the top of Everest.

An estimated 150 climbers tried to reach the top Friday and Saturday as they rushed to use a brief window of good weather in an otherwise troubled climbing season. Many had been waiting at a staging camp for several days for their chance to head to the summit.

"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 said.

Climbers normally are advised not to try for the summit after 11 a.m. The area above the last camp at the 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 a limited amount of oxygen, not anticipating the extra time spent," Shrestha said.

Born in Kathmandu, Nepal, the 33-year-old Shah-Klorfine grew up in Mumbai, India and moved to Canada to be with her husband and start an import business, SOS Splash of Style Inc.

Her adopted country soon became central to her convictions as she involved herself in social and political groups, including the Conservative Party of Canada, where she was on the board of directors as secretary to the party's Toronto-Davenport riding association.

Her desire to climb Mount Everest was also intermingled with her patriotism. "This is my dream and passion, and (I) want to do something for my country," Shah-Klorfine wrote on her website.

"Nothing is impossible in this world, even the word 'impossible' says 'I M POSSIBLE'!"

The climbing season on Everest runs from late March to the first week in June, and the Nepalese government places no limits on how many climbers can be on the 8,850-metre mountain. The season's first clear conditions were on Friday and Saturday, but that window already was closing by Saturday afternoon with a windstorm at higher altitudes, Shrestha said.

Ang Tshering, an Everest expert and former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said the government should impose schedules so that scores of climbers are not trying to head for the summit on the same day.

Tshering said the race to the summit on Saturday meant that climbers likely expended all their energy on the way up and had little left for the descent.

The deadliest day on Everest was May 10, 1996, when eight people were killed. The main reason was said to be that climbers who started their ascent late in the day were caught in a snowstorm in the afternoon.

- with files from the Associated Press.

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  • Shriya Shah-Klorfine in her climbing gear, from a gallery of expedition images she uploaded to her <a href="" target="_hplink">Facebook page</a>.

  • Shriya Shah-Klorfine on the climb to base camp, from a gallery of expedition images she uploaded to her <a href="" target="_hplink">Facebook page</a>.

  • Shriya Shah-Klorfine sitting inside her tent on base camp, from a gallery of expedition images she uploaded to her <a href="" target="_hplink">Facebook page</a>.

  • Shriya Shah-Klorfine practicing on the blue ice wall at base camp, from a gallery of expedition images she uploaded to her <a href="" target="_hplink">Facebook page</a>.

  • More Images Of Everest

    In this Oct. 27, 2011 file photo, the last light of the day sets on Mount Everest as it rises behind Mount Nuptse as seen from Tengboche, in the Himalaya's Khumbu region, Nepal. A team of American scientists and researchers is setting up a laboratory at Mount Everest to study the effects of high altitude on humans. Team leader Dr. Bruce Johnson and eight other team members flew to the airstrip at Lukla, near Everest, on Friday, April 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)

  • In this photo taken in October 2009 and released by WWF, Imza Lake lies near the foothills of Mount Everest, near legendary mountaineer Apa Sherpa's old home in Nepal. Apa used to circle along a track skirting the water's edge but the trails have long since disappeared underwater. Apa, who has scaled the world's highest mountain a record 21 times, is on a quest to draw attention to the danger of more devastating floods as glacial melt caused by climate change fills mountain lakes to the bursting point. (AP Photo/WWF, Steve Morgon)

  • In this photograph taken on May 19, 2009, unidentified mountaineers descend from the summit of Everest. Four climbers have been killed returning from the summit of Mount Everest, tour agents and officials said on May 21, 2012, bringing the season's death toll to six on the world's highest peak. AFP PHOTO/COURTESY OF PEMBA DORJE SHERPA/FILES

  • A picture taken on February 6, 2012 shows an aerial view of the Mount Everest range, some 140 km (87 miles) north-east of Kathmandu. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA

  • Photo taken on September 30, 2010 shows Mount Everest (C) from the window of a Druk Air aircraft during a flight from Bangkok to Paro. Everest is the world's highest mountain above sea level at 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) high. AFP PHOTO / ED JONES

  • An aerial view the Mount Everest range some 140 km (87 miles) northeast of Kathmandu on January 14, 2011. The government said it aims to double the number of foreign visitors who come to Nepal every year to one million in 2011. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA

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Filed by Lauren Strapagiel  |