American climber becomes first foreign tourist to die climbing Everest this year

An American climber has become the first foreign tourist to die this year during an expedition to climb Mount Everest, according to the US embassy in Nepal.

Jonathan Sugarman, 69, who was a doctor in Seattle, died at Camp 2 after he began feeling unwell on Monday.

It was Sugarman’s second attempt to ascend the world’s highest mountain and he was part of an expedition organized by Washington state-based International Mountain Guides.

The guide company said his death “was not the result of a climbing accident or a route condition that could have a potential impact or safety concern for other teams on the mountain.”

The US Embassy in Nepal released a statement, saying: “We can confirm that Dr. Jonathan Sugarman passed away while climbing Mount Everest on Monday, May 1.”

“Our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

The embassy said its officials were in contact with Sugarman’s family and with local authorities.

Eric Simonson, owner of International Mountain Guides, said: “The rest of the IMG climbing team is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.”

The doctor had attempted to climb Everest in 2012 but had to withdraw after reaching Camp 3 after suffering high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE).

HAPE is a condition caused by rapid changes in elevation. Sugarman told the mountaineering website Uphill Athlete that he too suffered HAPE in 2016 when he was climbing another summit in the Himalayan mountains.

“To be honest, I was never sure until I got there that I would actually make it to Camp 3, so I had a nice sense of accomplishment when I got there,” he told the website of his 2012 Everest expedition.

As of April 26, Nepal had issued a record 463 permits to Everest climbers for this year’s spring season.

Spring is the most sought after time for climbers to try to reach the summit of Everest, the highest point on earth at 29,032 feet (8,849 m).

Most climbers aim to summit in mid-May, a brief window when temperatures are warmest and conditions are most favorable in the harsh altitudes of the Himalayas.

The record number of permits has raised concerns among environmentalists and mountaineers about potentially dangerous overcrowding at campsites and on the mountain’s most popular ridges.

Sugarman is the fourth person to die on Everest during this year’s climbing season. In April, three shepas died when they fell into a crevasse.

The last American to die on the summit was from Connecticut. Puwei Liu died of exhaustion in 2021 after reaching Hillary Step, a point near the main summit.

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