Teenage climber tells of passing bodies on way to Everest summit

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A teenager has described the harrowing conditions she endured as she climbed to the top of the world’s highest mountain.

Leanna Shuttleworth, 19, had to climb past the bodies of several mountaineers who were either dead or dying to reach the summit of Mount Everest, becoming the youngest British woman to reach the top.

The extreme weather meant many climbers had to turn back and it has been linked to the deaths of at least four people on the mountain in the last week, a spokeswoman for the Buckinghamshire-born teenager said.

Leanna, who has been climbing since the age of 14, started the challenge on April 2 and reached the summit at 6.10am on May 20, accompanied by her father, Mark.

She said: “The summit was really quite terrible as far as summit days go. We had awful weather.

“We started out at 9pm and the wind was meant to start dropping but it never did. We passed quite a few other teams but they turned back. Our oxygen regulators kept freezing up, we could not get into our water as the lids had frozen on and we did not want to stop because it was so cold.

“A member of our team, his corneas froze. His eyesight is fine but he had to abandon the climb and go down blind.”

But Leanna said passing the casualties on the mountain was the most horrific part of the ascent.

She said: “There were quite a few bodies attached to the fixed lines and we had to walk round them.

“There were a couple who were still alive. Our Sherpa helped one of the people but a couple were so far gone they didn’t even know we were there.

“It was the most horrendous thing to see.”

On reaching the top of Everest she became the youngest British woman to have completed the Seven Summits Challenge (SSC), her spokeswoman said.

This requires that climbers summit the highest mountain on each of the world’s continents, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Denali, Aconcagua, Kosciuszko, Vinson Massif and Everest, she said.