Three climbers died on Everest over the weekend and one climber is still missing, officials confirmed on Monday. This comes as one of the deadliest incidents on the peak since an avalanche swept through base camp killing 18 two years ago.
The helicopter rescue operators said more than a dozen climbers have also been rescued from the 8,848m mountain in the last three days after running into difficulties while attempting to summit.
The three deaths over the weekend bring the toll to five so far this season, which has been hit by unpredictable weather, strong winds and unusually cold temperatures.
Kamal Parajuli of Nepal's Tourism Department confirmed that Slovak climber Vladamir Strba was found dead on Everest on Sunday. She was found a few hundred metres from the summit. When he died, he was above the 8,000-metre mark, which is known as the mountain's "death zone". The area is also said to have claimed the life of American climber Roland Yearwood.
The death zone is notorious for its difficult terrain and thin air, where low levels of oxygen heighten the risk of altitude sickness.
The local media quoted the Tibet Mountaineering Association that an Australian climber died on the Tibet side of the mountain. The 54-year-old from Queensland was reportedly hit by altitude sickness after reaching 7,500m and died as he was trying to descend.
Since Saturday, a fourth climber, who is from India's northern Uttar Pradesh state, has been missing when he lost contact shortly after reaching the summit. Reports said his Nepali guide was found unconscious at Camp 4, just below 8,000m, with severe frostbite.
A search operation is already underway for the climber. But, authorities at base camp were unable to contact the rescue team on Monday morning.
According to reports, other deaths this season include that of legendary Swiss climber Ueli Steck in late April while on an acclimatization climb, and 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan who perished attempting to reclaim his title as the world's oldest person to summit Everest.
This season, more than 120 climbers have successfully summited Everest from the south side so far with another 80 reaching the peak from the Tibet side. However, hundreds of climbers are still waiting to summit before the monsoon arrives in early June, which marks the end of the short spring climbing season.
In 2016, Mt. Everest claimed the lives of five climbers, while a total of 640 people summited from both sides of the mountain.