Hiker Kirui Cheruiyot's body to be left on Mt. Everest, family says

Kenyan hiker Cheruiyot Kirui posted this photo in his trekking update he posted on Instagram page on April 27, 2024. He was found dead on May 23, 2024. 

Photo credit: Cheruiyot Kirui | Instagram

The body of Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui, the Kenyan climber who died on Mount Everest on May 22, will remain where he died, the family has said.

 The family on Wednesday described the situation they find themselves in as "painful", citing the risk involved in retrieving the body.

 "Following the death of Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui on Mount Everest on May 22, 2024, the family has taken the difficult decision to let his body remain on Mt Everest. This decision was taken after extensive consultation and careful consideration of all the circumstances," the family said in a statement.

Mt Everest

Mt Everest. 

Photo credit: Pool

 "Cheruiyot fell into a crevasse 48 metres from the summit (8,848 metres) and retrieving his body from that height would be risky for the rescue team and the family does not wish to endanger any lives."

The family added: "Cheruiyot had a deep love for the mountains and they loved him in return. We find solace in knowing that he is resting in his happy place."

It is estimated that nearly 200 bodies of the 330 climbers who died on the world's highest mountain remain on The Everest.

It costs about Sh9 million to retrieve a body, as it takes about eight people to scale up to carry it, and most families who lose their loved ones prefer to leave them there.

Bringing the body down is a risky and costly affair, depending on a number of factors, according to one of the late Kirui's close hiking friends, Limo Kipkemoi.

Photo credit: Cheruiyot Kirui Instagram

Mr Kirui's family added that they appreciated the love and condolences they had received from relatives, friends and the community, including the KCB Group where Kirui worked.

"We know that our son was truly loved and we thank Seven Summit Treks for their support, information and guidance during this time. We also pray for the family of Nawang Sherpa who is still missing. May they find peace," the family said.

A memorial service for Mr Kirui will be held in Nairobi and Chepterit village in Nandi County, details of which will be announced in due course.

On April 18, Mr Kirui posted on his social media pages that he was on a mission to climb Mt Everest in the Himalayas without supplemental oxygen.

Medically, he was armed with nifedipine, and he revealed in his plan that this was because he was susceptible to High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), a serious high altitude illness that affects the lungs and causes them to fill with fluid, which could lead to a medical emergency.

Photo credit: Cheruiyot Kirui | Instagram

 He was a mountaineering enthusiast, an avid runner, a banker and a writer, and many who knew him described him as a man of few words. 

 Mt Everest's summit is approximately 29,029 feet above sea level and is the highest point on Earth. The peak is located in the 'Death Zone' where oxygen is scarce and a near-vertical face climb must be made using ropes.

 Mr Kirui launched "Big Project 2024: Everest No-Ox', which piqued this writer's curiosity to follow him on his journey to the unimaginable.

 He loved climbing mountains and this was no ordinary climb, but this time without oxygen.

 He wrote: "So far, two per cent of Everest summits have been done without supplemental oxygen (no African yet), can we squeeze into this group? Let's see how it unfolds".

 In September last year, he became the first African to climb the 8,163 metre Manaslu without supplemental oxygen.

Wilson Kenduiywo

Wilson Kenduiywo and Ruth Kenduiywo, parents of Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui (inset), who was found dead on Mt Everest in Nepal, after a hiking adventure turned fatal at their home in Chepterit, Chesumei Constituency of Nandi County on May 23, 2024.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

He has also done several speed climbs of Mt Kilimanjaro, 5,895 metres high,  in just 15 hours ascending and descending.

 He has also done The Rwenzori and Mt Stanley, which is 5,109 metres high, in six days.

Mr Kirui has also done 20 ascents of Mt Kenya, setting course records on the three main routes, the most outstanding being the Sirimon route, which took him 2 hours 56 minutes.

 He has also completed several ultra-marathons, which are recorded in his book "Ultramarathon: The Story of Tor Des Géants".

Late Cheruiyot Kirui had elaborate plans for his daring expedition, which he shared with his fans on social media.

Photo credit: Cheruiyot Kirui Instagram

In September 2017, he participated in the Beskidy Ultra Trail in Poland (96 km, altitude 4,900 metres), before taking part in the Tor des Geants (Tour of the Giants) in the Italian Alps in September 2019 (356 km, altitude 27,000 metres).

 According to a source who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, Mr Kirui admitted that he was going on a dangerous mission and wasn't sure if he would return alive.

 "We had a conversation about his mission before he left. He was a man of few words who always wanted to push himself to the limit and he revealed that he was on a mission to reach the top of the mountain without oxygen...... truly he died a warrior," the source said.

 Mr Kirui joined KCB Group in 2009 and before his death, he worked in the corporate mortgage department in Nairobi.