Maria Strydom’s husband Robert Gropel vows not to leave Nepal without her body

The husband of Maria Strydom, Melbourne woman who died on Mount Everest, has vowed to bring home the body of his beloved wife.

Monash University lecturer Dr Maria Strydom, 34, died on the mountain on Saturday, May 21 after succumbing to altitude sickness,with her husband by her side.

Maria’s husband, Robert Gropel, is recuperating in Kathmandu. “All I am thinking about is I want to get her home,” Mr Gropel told ABC radio in his first interview on Friday, nearly a week after his wife’s death.

“I’m just trying to be strong, I’m learning to cope and block out what causes sort of, breakdowns and trying to get the job done of bringing my wife home.”

Paying tribute to Maria, Gropel said: “She was my motivation idol, my hero. She was a very strong advocate for women, she was the perfect person”.

Meanwhile, Maria’s friends and family in Australia are raising funds to bring the university lecturer’s body home.

The fundraiser For Maria was organised by friends from Dr Strydom’s St Michael’s Netball Club where she was a member for 10 years. Friends and club members have established the fundraiser to support the family by collecting money to help retrieve and repatriate the climber’s body from Everest.

“Maria’s body has been recovered and is in Kathmandu awaiting repatriation. The funds we have raised so far will help ease the financial burden for Rob and her family” the website says.

More than $9,000 has been raised till now, Club vice-president Scott Toniazzo told ABC.”Myself and two others from the club are the main drivers behind it… they find it comforting in a way to be able to do something to help,” Mr Toniazzo said.

He said the club was hit hard by the news of Ms Strydom’s passing. “We were all following her through Facebook, her ascent up the mountain and we knew how far she had gotten,” Mr Toniazzo said.

The initial estimated cost to bring Dr Strydom’s body to Camp 2 was $12,000 and a further $15,000 is then needed to take her body to Base Camp via helicopter, and then on to Kathmandu via plane, according to Mr Toniazzo.