The last words of a Toronto woman who died after reaching the summit of Mount Everest were "save me," says a close friend.
Shriya Shah-Klorfine of Toronto was one of four people who died while descending from the summit Saturday in what are being described as overcrowded conditions.
One of her best friends, Shellyann Siddoo, says her family is now trying to find a way to bring her body back to Canada. Shah-Klorfine's body is still on Everest above the highest camp, known as South Col.
"I just learned this morning that her last words were 'save me,' as she was taking her last breath," Siddoo said in a Tuesday interview with CBC's Metro Morning. Shah-Klorfine had spoken to her Sherpa guide before her death.
"You know what, it just broke my heart. I haven't [eaten] anything since Saturday. I've just been crying. I've lost my best friend and my dear sister."
A Nepal tourism ministry official said Shah-Klorfine, 33, and a Chinese climber, Wang-yi Fa, 55, were killed Saturday when the mountainside was hit by strong winds. Fa's Nepalese Sherpa guide is still missing.
Shah-Klorfine and Fa were believed to have suffered exhaustion and altitude sickness, said Nepali mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha.
The two others who died were Eberhard Schaaf, a 61-year-old German doctor, and Song Won-bin, a mountaineer from South Korea.
A lifelong dream
Shah-Klorfine was born in Kathmandu, Nepal, grew up in Mumbai, India and then moved to Canada to be with her husband and start an import business, SOS Splash of Style Inc. Last year, Shah-Klorfine was a candidate for Mississauga East-Cooksville in the last Ontario election as a member of the Paramount Canadians Party.
"It was her lifelong dream" to reach the summit of the world's tallest peak, said Siddoo. She said Shah-Klorfine and her parents had taken a helicopter to Everest when she was a nine-year old girl, and she had been fixated on climbing the mountain ever since.
It was Shah-Klorfine's first trek to the 8,850-metre peak. Her godfather, Bikram Lamba, said she mortgaged her house to pay for the expedition, at a cost of nearly $100,000.
She prepared for the trek by walking hills around her home near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue, while wearing a 20-kilogram backpack. Her regimen, which she prepared herself in consultation with her expedition team in Nepal, also included karate, rock climbing and cardiovascular work, said Siddoo.
Her team in Nepal told her that she can do all her cardio work and pre-training ahead of time, said Siddoo. When she got there, the team told her they "will teach you all you need to know," she said.
"You will be doing [an] 18-day trek up to base camp, and when you reach the base camp, we will teach you how to use the ladders and everything like that."
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.
Shriya Shah-Klorfine in her climbing gear, from a gallery of expedition images she uploaded to her <a href="http://www.facebook.com/ssklorfine" 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="http://www.facebook.com/ssklorfine" 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="http://www.facebook.com/ssklorfine" 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="http://www.facebook.com/ssklorfine" 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