Green Boots is the name given to the corpse of a climber that has become a landmark on the main Northeast ridge route of Mount Everest. The term Green Boots originates from the green mountaineering boots the body still wears. All expeditions from the north side encounter the body curled in the limestone alcove cave at 27,890 feet (8 500 m). In 2006, a different climber, David Sharp, died during a solo climb in what is known as "Green Boots' Cave". His plight may have been overlooked by those who saw him there but did not stop to investigate as they mistakenly believed him to be Green Boots.
Green Boots is commonly believed to be Indian climber Tsewang Paljor, who was wearing green Koflach boots on the day he and two others in his party summited, although it is possible that the body may instead be that of his team member Dorje Morup.
The Everest disaster of 1996 is well known in mountaineering circles for the deaths of eight climbers, which included five climbers from the Adventure Consultants and Mountain Madness expeditions on the southeast route. Less well-known are the three fatalities on the northeast route. These were the climbers from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) expedition from India. The expedition was led by Commandant (equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel) Mohinder Singh and is credited as being the first Indian ascent of Everest from the East side.
On 10 May 1996, Subedar Tsewang Samanla, Lance Naik (equivalent to Lance Corporal) Dorje Morup, and Head Constable Tsewang Paljor got caught in the blizzard, just short of the summit. While three of the six-member team turned back down, Samanla, Morup, and Paljor decided to go for the summit. At around 15:45 Nepal Time, the three climbers radioed to their expedition leader that they had arrived, a claim that was subsequently disputed by Jon Krakauer, who based on an analysis of an interview given by a later Japanese team believes they may have stopped 150 metres (492 ft) short of the topmost point but been confused by poor visibility. They left an offering of prayer flags, khatas, and pitons. Here, the leader Samanla decided to spend extra time for religious ceremonies and instructed the other two to move down.
There was no radio contact after that. Back at the camps below, anxious team members saw two headlamps moving slightly above the second step — at 8,570 metres (28,117 ft). None of the three managed to come back to high camp at 8,300 metres (27,231 ft).
Controversy later arose over whether or not a team of Japanese climbers from Fukuoka had seen and potentially failed to assist the missing Indian climbers. The group had left their camp at 8,300 metres (27,231 ft) at 06:15 Beijing time, reaching the summit at 15:07. Along the way, they encountered others on the trail. Unaware of the missing Indians, they believed these others, all of whom were wearing goggles and oxygen masks under their hoods, were members of a climbing party from Taiwan. During their descent, begun at 15:30, they reported seeing an unidentifiable object above the Second Step. Below the First Step, they radioed in to report seeing one person on a fixed rope. Thereafter, Shigekawa exchanged greetings with an unidentifiable man standing nearby. At that time, they had only enough oxygen to return to C6.
At 16:00, the Fukuoka party discovered from an Indian in their group that three men were missing. They offered to join the rescue but were declined. Forced to wait a day due to bad weather, they sent a second attack group to the summit on the 13th. Around the First Step they saw several bodies, but continued to the summit.
Initially, there were some misunderstandings and harsh words regarding the actions of the Fukuoka team, which were later clarified. According to Reuters, the Indian expedition had made claims that the Japanese had pledged to help with the search but instead had pressed forward with their summit attempt. The Japanese team denied that they had ever encountered the dying climbers on the way up, a claim that was accepted by the Indian-Tibetan Border Police. Captain Kohli, an official of the Indian Mountaineering Federation, who earlier had denounced the Japanese, later retracted his claim that the Japanese had reported meeting the Indians on 10 May.
Tsewang Paljor or Dorje Morup?
While the common belief is that Green Boots is the body of Head Constable Tsewang Paljor, an article published in Himalayan Journal in 1997 raises the possibility that it could instead be that of Lance Naik Dorje Morup. The article, titled "The Indian Ascent of Qomolungma by the North Ridge", was written by P. M. Das, deputy leader of the expedition. Das wrote the following about the fateful day:
We were anxious as the weather was closing in but at last at 1830 hrs Smanla announced on the walkie-talkie that the three of them had reached the top ... At 1930 hrs, in the darkness we noticed two head-torches light up and the rapid movement of the climbers descending, one of the beams spiralling downwards, towards the Second Step. Then darkness, as they went out of our lives.
The next day the leader of the second summit group of the expedition radioed base camp that they saw a figure moving around the Second Step. Das subsequently wrote:
[The Japanese group] had made an early start, and came across Dorji between the First and Second Steps, who was reportedly proceeding down slowly. He had refused to put on gloves over his frost-bitten hands. He was finding difficulty in unclipping his safety carabiner at anchor points and the Japanese team undipped it for him before attaching him to the next stretch of the fixed rope.
The Japanese group discovered the body of Tsewang Samanla above the Second Step later on. On the return trip, the group found that Morup was still making slow progress. Morup is believed to have died in the late afternoon on 11 May. Das states that Paljor's body was never found.
A second ITBP group also came across the bodies of Samanla and Morup on their return from the summit.
On the way down they had spotted the body of Smanla lying without jacket and crampons, 20 m away from their route above the Second Step. His rucksack was missing and so was his red Goretex jacket. Lower down, they spotted the body of Dorji lying under the shelter of a boulder near their line of descent, close to Camp 6. His clothing was intact and his rucksack lay by his side.
From this description of Dorji's body and its position, it is possible that this is the body now known as Green Boots.
Green Boots is among many corpses remaining on Everest. It is unknown when the term Green Boots entered Everest parlance. Over the years it became a common term, as all the expeditions from the north side encountered the body of the Indian climber curled up in the limestone alcove cave. The cave is located at 27,890 feet (8 500 m), and is littered with spent oxygen bottles. It is located below the first step on the path.
The first recorded video footage of Green Boots was filmed on 21 May 2001 by French climber Pierre Papparon. In the video, Green Boots is shown lying on his right side, facing away from the summit. According to Papparon, sherpas told him that it was the body of a Chinese mountaineer who had attempted the climb six months earlier.
In later years, the body could be seen lying on its left side, facing the direction of the summit.
When the British mountaineer David Sharp died during his solo attempt in 2006, he was found in a hypothermic state in "Green Boots' Cave". Sharp would ultimately die of extreme cold, and his body was left lying a few feet from Green Boots. It has been theorised that some other climbers passed by Sharp without offering assistance, believing him to be Green Boots.
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- Douglas, Ed (15 August 2006). "Over the Top". Outside Magazine.
- Singh, Mohinder (2003). Everest: The First Indian Ascent from North. Indian Publishers Distributors. ISBN 81-7341-276-6.
- Krakauer, Jon (1997). Into Thin Air. Anchor Books. ISBN 03-8549-208-1.
- Saso, Hiroo. "Misunderstandings Beyond the North Ridge". International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation. Archived from the original on 24 February 2005.
- "India probes Everest deaths, questions Japanese team". Reuters. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
- Das, P. M. (1997). "The Indian Ascent of Qomolungma by the North Ridge". Himalayan Journal 53.
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