An Australian woman tragically died over the weekend after contracting altitude sickness while climbing Mount Everest.
34-year-old Maria Strydom set out to prove ‘vegans can do anything’ by climbing the the world’s most iconic mountain, reports Time, but she died on Saturday after suffering the symptoms of a high-altitude pulmonary edema.
Strydom told Monash University’s blog ahead of the expedition:
It seems that people have this warped idea of vegans being malnourished and weak. By climbing the seven summits we want to prove that vegans can do anything and more.
Styrdom had reached the final camp before the summit when she and husband, Robert Gropel, took ill.
Gropel survived the tragic incident, but his devastation at the loss of his wife was reported by his father.
Heinz Gropel told The Australian:
Physically he’s okay, we think. Mentally, he is a mess.
He’s just lost his wife. These guys were not amateurs, they were experienced climbers.
Two other people are also reported to have lost their lives, 36-year-old Eric Arnold, who was part of the couple’s climbing party, and 25-year-old Phurba Sherpa.
Compounding the tragedy further, there are serious concerns that the body of finance lecturer Dr Strydom will have to remain on the mountain.
Styrdom’s sister, Aletta Newman, reported the family was yet to hear from the expedition company, but told the Sydney Morning Herald:
Given that she is 8,000 metres up a mountain, we feel that there is nothing that we can really do. We can’t really go and see her and get her down ourselves.
Our thoughts are with all of the families and friends who lost loved ones in this tragic climb.