British man missing on Everest - as family crowdfund for £150,000 search operation

24 May 2024, 16:05 | Updated: 25 May 2024, 14:38

A British man is feared dead after disappearing on Mount Everest amid fears of overcrowding on the mountain.

Dan Paterson, 40, and his Nepalese guide Pastenji Sherpa, 23, reached the summit just before 5am on Tuesday, 21 May, but have not been heard from since, according to his partner.

Footage has shown increasing crowds queuing for the summit, which mountaineers say puts the climbers at increased risk.

Mr Paterson's partner has set up an online crowdfunding page in an "urgent" appeal to find him, saying helicopter and specialised search teams are likely to cost around £150,000. The Go Fund Me site has reached £105,000 so far.

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."

Mr Paterson's disappearance comes after a landslide of snow and ice on the mountain.

Videos and photos on social media show what appears to be hundreds of people on the Hillary Step, a nearly vertical rock face near the top of Everest at around 8,800m, in recent days.

A cornice - an overhanging mass of hardened snow overhanging the edge of a precipice - is thought to have collapsed, dragging some climbers down the side of the mountain.

Overcrowding on the world's highest mountain has been blamed for increasing deaths, with climate change also thought to be playing a part in making the journey more perilous.

Kul Bahadur Gurung, general secretary of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said in 2019 - when 11 people died in the March to May climbing season - that "there were more people on Everest than there should be".

Mountaineer Alan Hinkes, who reached Everest's summit in 1996, 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 climbing Everest 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."

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The founder of 8K Expeditions, a guiding company that both men used, noted that they had searched for the pair after they "heroically" reached the peak of Everest at 4.40am (11.55pm in the UK).

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

The online crowdfunding page describes Mr Paterson as "a beloved son, brother, partner, friend and a proud joint owner of Wakefield Crossfit".

His partner said he has a "passion for Leeds United" and hopes that "in light of the upcoming play-off final", she can bring him home.

At least 12 people died climbing the mountain last year, according to online outlet Outside. The figure meant 2023 had the fourth-highest amount of deaths in Everest history.