Melbourne woman Maria Strydom dies on Mount Everest

A Melbourne university lecturer who suffered altitude sickness and died on Mount Everest

Maria Strydom died on Saturday afternoon after having to turn back from the final leg of the expedition because she felt unwell.

She returned to Camp 4, the last camp before the mountain’s summit, on Friday where she spent the night but died from lack of oxygen the following day.

The 34-year-old South African national taught at Monash University in Melbourne and was an experienced climber.

Her husband Robert Gropel is injured but, according to trip organisers, ‘100 per cent safe’.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says the death of a young Australian climber on Mount Everest is a tragedy, and travellers must understand the risks they are taking when they try to conquer it.

Tour company Seven Summit Treks said the tired and weak 34-year-old died at an altitude of about 7,800 metres near Camp Four.

Another climber in Dr Strydom’s group, Dutchman Eric Arnold, also died from altitude sickness on Friday after reaching the summit on his fifth attempt.

Mountaineer Andrew Lock has conquered Mount Everest twice and was the first Australian to lead a commercial expedition up the peak.

He said that Seven Summit Treks was “one of the lower end guiding companies” and said two deaths on one team was a cause for great concern.

“The environment has changed. It was once an environment where only skilled and experienced climbers dared to tread.

“Now because of the unregulated commercialisation there are inexperienced people being led up by inexperienced people and it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Julie Bishop extends sympathy over climber Maria Strydom killed on Everest

Ms Bishop said consular assistance was being provided to the family of Monash University lecturer Maria Strydom, 34, of Melbourne, who died from altitude sickness while descending the mountain.

“It is a difficult and challenging climb and many people have died,” Ms Bishop told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.

“We certainly extend our condolences to the family and loved ones of Marisa.”

She said Queensland woman Alyssa Azar’s successful summit of Mount Everest on the same day would be bittersweet, in light of Dr Strydom’s death.

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About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

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