First American Climber of the Season Dies Climbing Mount Everest

Riley McDonald | ClimbingClimbing
view of everest
Overlooking Everest, image: Unsplash, Kalle Kortelainen

Whether you are in the mountaineering world or not, it is guaranteed you have heard of the infamous Mt. Everest in Nepal sitting atop a soaring 29,031 feet above sea level. The feeling of being on top of the world, quite literally, is one that calls to many from all walks of life. However, it is not without risk.

The most popular time to attempt the summit is in the spring, with a unique window after mid-May when the temperature rises and the jet stream winds move away from the mountain. An American Seattle-based climber was one of the many who set the goal to summit Everest this May. Jonathan Sugarman set out on an expedition arranged by Washington state-based International Mountain Guides (IMG) with Beyul Adventure handling the local logistics.

In 2022, Sugarman set his sights to reach Camp 3 on the way up Everest and succeeded. At 69 years old, Sugarman upped his goal to summit Everest this May of 2023. With a heavy heart, it has been reported that he passed away at Camp 2 on May 1st. This makes him the first American climber to pass away attempting Everest this season. IMG announced, “We can confirm that this event was not the result of a climbing accident or route condition that would be of potential impact or safety concern to any other teams on the mountain.” Additionally,  Pasang Sherpa, an expedition organizer, told CNN that Sugarman died “after he began to feel unwell.” 

view of everest
A view of Everest, image: Shutterstock, Daniel Prudek

It is a sad time to lose a fellow American outdoorsman. Sugarman earns immense respect for setting the goal of climbing Mt. Everest after summiting Aconcagua in Argentina, Denali in Alaska, and Cotopaxi in Ecuador in his lifetime. The hearts of the Snowbrains team go out to the loved ones of Jonathan Sugarman. 

Climbing Everest is a dangerous feat. Sherpas work hard to make the route as safe as possible and their work has been paying off. Death numbers have been rising, but the fatality percentage has fallen below 1%.

Regardless, summiting the highest point on Earth is not something to be taken lightly as many souls have been lost to the dramatic Nepli landscape.

everest death rates chart
Mount Everest death rates, image: BBC

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