Family of British man missing on Mount Everest launch fundraising appeal for search in Nepal

25 May 2024, 15:53 | Updated: 25 May 2024, 15:58

40-year-old Dan Peterson
40-year-old Dan Peterson. Picture: GoFundMe

By Charlie Duffield

A British man is thought to be dead after disappearing on Mount Everest.

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Daniel Paul Peterson, 40, and his Nepalese guide Pastenji Sherpa, 23, made it to the mountain's summit before 5am on Tuesday, 21 May.

But his partner said they have not been heard from since then, and she has set up an "urgent" crowdfunding page in an attempt to locate him, and fund the helicopter and specialised search teams which are expected to cost approximately £150,000.

So far the Go Fund Me crowdfunding page has raised £105,000.

It reads: "My name is Becks Woodhead and I am the partner of Dan "Pat" Paterson. Dan's family and I, urgently need your help.

"Tragically, during his descent, Daniel went missing, and there has been no contact or sighting of him since.

"Time is of the essence in a situation like this, and we are mobilising every resource we can to locate Dan.

"Conducting a search and rescue operation on Everest is an incredibly complex and costly endeavour. We are not experts in this, and there is no guarantee of success."

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Read More: Cold snap on the way could see temperatures in parts of the country drop below freezing

Mount Everest
Mount Everest. Picture: Alamy

Mr Paterson's disappearance happened in the “death zone” of the world’s highest peak just after he had reached the 8,849m high summit on Tuesday morning.

He slipped and fell when an ice mound collapsed during the expedition.

Videos and photos on social media reveal what seems to be hundreds of people on the Hillary Step, which is an almost vertical rock face near the top of Everest, which recently measured approximately 8,800m.

It's thought that a cornice, which is an overhanging mass of impacted snow overhanging the edge of a precipice, collapsed, pulling some climbers down the mountainside.

The world's highest mountain experiences overcrowding, which along with climate change, has been blamed for the increasing deaths.

Back in 2019, 11 people died during the March to May climbing season and Kul Bahadur Gurung said "there were more people on Everest than there should be".

When mountaineer Alan Hinkes reached Everest's summit in 1996, he told Sky News: "You can only survive for a few hours at that altitude.

"It's the death zone, because of the lack of oxygen, air pressure, and really cold temperatures.

"So hanging around in one of those queues isn't a good idea, because you're slowly dying in those altitudes."

Vinayak Malla, an International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) guide, who climbed the mountain on 21 May, said on Instagram that reaching the summit "felt different than my previous experiences".

She said: "After summiting, we crossed the Hillary Step, traffic was moving slowly then suddenly a cornice collapsed a few metres ahead of us. There was also a cornice under us."

As the cornice collapsed, four climbers nearly perished yet were clipped onto the rope and self-rescued.

Sadly, two climbers are still missing. We tried to traverse yet it was impossible due to the traffic on the fixed line."

The Nepali Department of Tourism said six mountain guides had been scrambled to help join the search after Mr Paterson and his guide slipped and vanished from the mountainside.

It said: “Mr Paterson and the accompanying Nepali mountain guide Mr Sherpa reached the peak of Everest at 4.40am on 21 May.

"It has been reported that the climber and his guide slipped and disappeared near the South summit near Kangsung Face on 21 May at 7am while returning from the summit of Everest.

"We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those involved in the search and rescue of those whose condition is currently unknown and who are missing in the accident.”

Both men used the guiding company 8K Expeditions, and the founder commented that they had looked for the pair of them after "heroically" reaching the peak of Everest at 4.40am.

But Lakpa Sherpa added: "Despite exhaustive search efforts, we regret to confirm that Daniel and Pastenji were unable to be recovered."

In the online crowdfunding page, Mr Paterson is described as "a beloved, brother, partner, friend and a proud joint owner of Wakefield Crossfit."

His partner commented that he is passionate about Leeds United and hopes that "in light of the upcoming play-off final", she can bring him home.

Last year, a minimum of 12 people died climbing the mountain, according to the online outlet Outside.

This means that 2023 had the fourth-highest amount of deaths in Everest history.