Perhaps most well-known of all are the remains of Tsewang Paljor, a young Indian climber who lost his life in the infamous 1996 blizzard. For nearly 20 years, Paljor’s body – popularly known as Green Boots, for the neon footwear he was wearing when he died – has rested near the summit of Everest’s north side. When snow cover is light, climbers have had to step over Paljor’s extended legs on their way to and from the peak.
Mountaineers largely view such matters as tragic but unavoidable. For the rest of us, however, the idea that a corpse could remain in plain sight for nearly 20 years can seem mind-boggling. Will bodies like Paljor’s remain in their place forever, or can something be done? And will we ever decide that Mount Everest simply is not worth it? As I discovered in this two-part series, the answer is a story of control, danger, grief and surprises.