Atte Miettinen, the UAE-based conqueror of Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is safe even as the icy killer claimed the lives of four mountaineers on a deadly weekend of climbing.
One climber is still reported missing.
Reaching the 8850 meter summit of Mount Everest, capped off a two-month expedition in Nepal. Miettinen was climbing as part of an eight-member Hybrid Team from International Mountain Guides (IMG), one of the world's leading guiding services.
“Reaching the summit of the highest mountain in the world is an amazing feeling and being able to fly the flag of the UAE there was a special feeling” commented Miettinen, “The weather is always tricky on Everest, but this year the mountain was unusually dangerous.”
Miettinen is looking to join an exclusive group of mountaineers that have scaled the highest mountains of each of the seven continents, referred to as the Seven Summits, as the first person from his native Finland.
Dubai resident Atte spoke to his wife, Delanii Kerai-Miettinen, from base camp to tell of the tragedy and to assure her that he was safe.
"Atte is Finnish and an exprienced mountaineer. But even he said that the condition was 'very bad' at the summit of the world's highest peak," Delanii told Emirates 24|7.
"Thank God he is safe."
Delanii said Atte almost got frost bite while planting the flags of Finland and the UAE on top of Mount Everest.
4 did not make it
Meanwhile, AFP adds that four climbers from Germany, South Korea, China and Canada have died returning from the summit of Mount Everest, tour agents and officials said Monday, with one other mountaineer also missing.
The 61-year-old German and the South Korean aged 44 died on the south face of the world's highest peak on Sunday, Ang Tshering Sherpa of the Kathmandu-based Asian Trekking adventure agency said.
"We are sad to announce the death of Eberhard Schaaf, of Germany, at the south side of the summit of Mount Everest," Sherpa told AFP.
"The medical staff at the Himalayan Rescue Association believe the cause of death to be altitude sickness."
Sherpa said South Korean Song Won-Bin, who had been missing since Saturday, died at "The Balcony", an area near the top of the 8,848-metre (29,029-feet) peak.
The Seoul-based Yonhap news agency said Song had collapsed due to altitude sickness and fallen off a cliff, quoting a diplomat at the South Korean embassy in Kathmandu.
It said the climbers were part of a team of old classmates from the same high school in the central city of Daejeon.
About a dozen members flew to Nepal at the end of March to mark their school's 50th anniversary by climbing the peak. They were due to return home later this month.
Tilak Pandey, a tourism ministry official at Everest base camp, told AFP separately that a 33-year-old Nepali-born Canadian woman named Shriya Shah had also been killed on Sunday.
The death zone
Everest's "death zone", the region above 8,000 metres, earned its name because it is almost impossible to survive the biting temperatures and lack of oxygen there for more than 48 hours. Conditions have been particularly hazardous this year, said Nepalese government official Gyanendra Shrestha, with high winds and heavy snowfall delaying the construction of makeshift bridges over precipices.
"The first expedition reached the top only on May 18 whereas last year it was on May 5," he said.
"With so many people trying to reach the top there was a traffic jam. The next forecast for good weather is between May 24 and 26. By May 28, the ice will start melting and expeditions will have to be called off."
Two Nepali Sherpa climbers died on Everest in April, one falling into a crevasse at 5,900 metres and the other succumbing to altitude sickness at base camp.
Nearly 4,000 people have climbed Mount Everest since 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first scaled it. More than 200 people have died on the slopes of the giant peak.
The successful expedition to Mount Everest represents sixth of the Seven Summits for Miettinen and his last Seven Summit expedition will be to Denali in USA, which he hopes to summit by the first week of July this year.
“I would love to say that now it’s time to relax and enjoy this awesome achievement, but I only have fourteen or so days before heading for Alaska to climb the last of my Seven Summits”. Miettinen was also quick to add “The Seven Summits has been a great experience and I hope we have some good luck on Denali to complete the challenge.”
Seven Summits refers to a mountaineering challenge of climbing the highest mountains of every continent: Cerro Aconcagua (South America), Denali (North America), Vinson Massif (Antarctica), Elbrus (Europe), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Everest (Asia) and either Carstensz Pyramid or Mount Kosciuszko (Australia).
First achieved in 1985 by Richard Bass, to date, less than 350 people have stood on all the Seven Summits.