Why aren’t helicopters used to recover bodies from Everest? Is it cost, laws or do helicopters not work at that altitude?

Why aren’t helicopters used to recover bodies from Everest? Is it cost, laws or do helicopters not work at that altitude?

What do you think?

12 Points
Upvote Downvote


Leave a Reply
  1. Altitude, the crazy and sudden winds, the sheer cold, the cost, the overall danger to the people involved.

    It’s just a dead body. No sense in risking many lives when it’s not even for saving one. It’s the risking of life for sentimental purposes. People who go to Everest are well aware of the dangers and that they might die. They subject themselves to the risk but would never advocate that others be forced to do the same.

  2. The higher the altitude, the thinner the air. The thinner the air, the harder it is for helicopters to achieve lift. Most helicopters safely fly around 10,000ft and (unsafely) max out at 25,000ft. Mount Everest is 29,900ft

    There are a few helicopters that can reach 30,000ft. The Nepali government owns one. However, they have a pretty strict stance about not using it for mountain rescues. They say that if mountaineers think they can be rescued, they will attempt more dangerous behavior. When you climb Mount Everest, you assume all risks, there is no rescue.

    In 1996, one of the deadliest disasters on Everest occurred, 8 people died. One of the men on the mountain at the time was American [Beck Weathers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beck_Weathers?wprov=sfla1). He was thought to have died on the mountain and left by his party. The next morning, he wandered into one of the camps half frozen. Lucky for him, he was very well connected in the US and was able to get a rescue helicopter to fly him to a hospital. The helicopter lifted him at 21,3000ft. Because air was so thin, to make the helicopter lighter chairs and equipment were ripped out. Once he got on, it was again too heavy to lift off with him as a passenger. They literally threw the helicopter off the side of the mountain until it was low enough to take off again. It is considered one of the most daring rescues in aviation history. Weathers lost an arm, all fingers and toes, and his nose. But he is still alive today. This was depicted in the movie *Everest* and the book *Into Thin Air*

  3. There’s a lot of environmental factors but the biggest is the altitude, there’s not enough air that high for a standard helicopter to keep itself in the air. There are specialty lightweight helicopters but they can only seat one or two, not great for a rescue, are expensive, and so light that any bad weather would ruin any chance of rescue at all

  4. There is less air to give lift. A jet can fly this high because it has a huge wing surface and it is a t very high speed. A U2 that can fly far higher than that had HUGE wings, so big that was almost impossible to land even at low speeds. If you try to run the helicopter propeller (that is a rotating wing) faster or make it bigger the tips of it will get above sound velocity and this will cause a huge resistance or even rip them off.
    The Everest is a littler above what an helicopter can fly: they can reach the lower base camps a little higher than the Khumbu icefall but not the summit.

  5. They are used to retrieve bodys and people from the lower base camps but the summit maxes out the safe operating space of almost all helicopters.

    Helicopters MAX altitude is around 25,000 ft. Everest is 4,000 feet taller than that. And most helicopter do not go higher than 10,000 ft.

    Also helicopters do not work well in high wind and extrem cold environemnts. The rotor wings and body do not have anti icing abilities like a airplane. So a snow storm, sleet and thick clouds or fog can cause ice to build adding extra weight to the aircraft. And the wind speed around the mountain can reach up to 200mph near the top. That’s way to dangerous to fly safely in.

  6. Everest is 29K feet While some specialized helicopters have made it to 40K feet a typical helicopter only goes to 15K feet.

    The shape and structure lead to updrafts a helicopter can’t safely manage

    The downdraft of a Chopper is unsafe for the people on the slopes of Everest

    Aircraft are not allowed around Everest because boarders Nepal and China and could trigger an international incident

  7. Costs as well. Nepal is a very poor country and is still beeing oppressed by China and India to some degree. As far as I know there is only one rescue helicopter available around the Everest basecamp region and they’ll concentrate on rescuing injured & sick people.

    Edit: “Everest ER” is the name of the organization. You can find some more infos about them on facebook as well as wikipedia. All other helicopters are usually private and only carry tourists to and from the basecamp. With some very, very view exceptions (for example video productions or so).

  8. Even if they can reach the bodies, Its extremely dangerous. Flying low (as in, at mountain height) in mountains is risky since terrain is all around you, the weather is extreme and hard to predict with wind gusts in all directions, and theres no place to land if there is an emergency.

    So its the same reason that bodies are rarely recovered unless they are in an ideal spot – the risk of getting the recovery team killed far outweighs any benefit of recovering the body.

Leave a Reply