The family of Australian climber Maria Strydom have been thrown into mourning following her death after reaching Mount Everest’s summit.
Dr Maria Marisa Strydom, 34, died on the mountain on Saturday after she was forced back by altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness is an illness caused by ascent to high altitude, characterized by hyperventilation, nausea, and exhaustion resulting from shortage of oxygen.
‘Maria’ and her husband, both experienced climbers, and vegans, flew to Nepal last month to conquer the world’s highest mountain.
Speaking before her death during an interview, she asserted that people had a warped idea that vegans were malnourished and weak. So, she hoped by climbing the seven summits, to prove that vegans can do anything and more.
She added that she had felt so ready for the climb despite the risks. “And then, depending whether we reach the summit [where success rate is only 30%], I am sure my mind will turn to the next adventure, being either a repeat of Everest or a trip to Mount Vinson in Antarctica.”
Her husband Ivanhoe East veterinarian Dr Rob Gropel, 36, is currently injured and has suffered high altitude sickness. Meanwhile, Gropel’s parents have flown to Nepal where they hope to help their son bring his wife’s body down off Mount Everest- which remains at the 8000-metre mark on Mount Everest.
Dr Maria Strydom, graduated with a B Com from the University of Pretoria in 2003 and was teaching finance at Monash University before her sudden demise.
The South African-born climber had previously climbed Denali in Alaska, Aconcagua in Argentina, and Kilimanjaro in Africa.
Meanwhile, the family said retrieving the daughter’s body is all they want. They stated that they are comforted to know she died with her husband holding her hand, but are angry with the expedition organizers for keeping them in the dark.
Climber Maria Strydom’s Tragic End
Recounting Strydom’s death, the leader of the expedition company, Arnold Coster, said, “Marisa was doing well until the ‘Balcony’, but became very slow after this and decided to turn around on the South Summit at 8am. Normally this would give her enough time to descend safely, but her condition deteriorated rapidly.
She was hardly able to move and became very confused. Dr Gropel and several Sherpas struggled all night to bring her down and by 2am Saturday she was back at Camp 4 having spent 31 hours above the camp — an area known as the “Death Zone”.
After medicine and oxygen Dr Strydom was able to walk the next morning. Marisa was able to walk herself, but two hours out of camp she collapsed on the ‘Geneva Spur’. Her husband tried to retrieve her, but this was not possible anymore.”
Following the tragic incident, climber Maria Strydom’s family have been consoled by well wishers and loved ones, especially her friends and students.