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Green Boots is the name given to the unidentified corpse of a climber that became a landmark on the main Northeast ridge route of Mount Everest. Though his identity has not been officially confirmed, he is believed to be Tsewang Paljor, an Indian climber who died on Mount Everest in 1996. The term Green Boots originated from the green Koflach mountaineering boots that are on the feet of the corpse. All expeditions from the north side encountered the body curled in the limestone alcove cave at 8,500 m (27,900 ft). In 2006, a different climber, David Sharp, died during a solo climb in what is known as "Green Boots' Cave".
In May 2014, Green Boots was reported missing, presumably removed or buried. In 2017, as a greater number of climbers returned, according to 2-stage hearsay he was noticed again at the same altitude and may have simply been covered with a few stones.
The first recorded video footage of Green Boots was filmed on 21 May 2001 by French climber Pierre Paperon. In the video, Green Boots is shown lying on his left side, facing toward the summit. According to Paperon, Sherpas told him that it was the body of a Chinese mountaineer who had attempted the climb six months earlier.
Over time, the corpse became known both as a landmark on the north route and for its association with the death of David Sharp. However, in May 2014, Green Boots' body was reported to be missing from view, presumably removed or buried. A body was discovered hanging alongside a tent and other debris on the side of a cliff-face in 2017, which some have speculated to be the transported body of "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 attempted to summit in 1996, although it is possible the body may instead have been that of his team member Dorje Morup. The Everest disaster of 1996 saw the deaths of eight climbers, which included five climbers from the Adventure Consultants and Mountain Madness expeditions on the southeast route, and 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 Mohinder Singh and was the first Indian ascent of Everest from the east side.
On 10 May 1996, Subedar Tsewang Samanla, Lance Naik Dorje Morup, and Head Constable Tsewang Paljor were 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, 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, one of the climbers, 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 party to the summit on 13 May. They saw several bodies around the First Step, 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 abandoned or refused to help 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.
While it is commonly believed that Green Boots is the body of Head Constable Tsewang Paljor, a 1997 article, titled "The Indian Ascent of Qomolungma by the North Ridge", published by P. M. Das, deputy leader of the expedition in Himalayan Journal, raises the possibility that it could instead be that of Lance Naik Dorje Morup. Das wrote that two climbers had been spotted descending by the light of their head-torches at 19:30, although they had soon been lost from sight. The next day the leader of the second summit group of the expedition radioed base camp that they had encountered Morup moving slowly between the First and Second Steps. Das wrote that Morup "had refused to put on gloves over his frost-bitten hands" and "was finding difficulty in unclipping his safety carabiner at anchor points." According to Das, the Japanese team assisted in transitioning him to the next stretch of 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. Das wrote that they encountered Morup "lying under the shelter of a boulder near their line of descent, close to Camp 6" with intact clothing and his rucksack by his side.
Green Boots in perspective
Green Boots joined the ranks of roughly 200 corpses remaining on Everest by the early 21st century. 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 climber curled up in the limestone alcove cave. The cave is at 27,890 feet (8,500 m) and is littered with oxygen bottles. It is below the first step on the path.
Another fallen climber who earned a nickname, "Sleeping Beauty", is Francys Distefano-Arsentiev, who died in 1998 during an unsuccessful descent from Everest after summiting. Her body remained where she fell and was visible until 2007, when it was ceremonially hidden from view.
Additional bodies are in "rainbow valley", an area below the summit strewn with corpses wearing brightly colored mountaineering apparel. Yet another named corpse is that of Hannelore Schmatz, who, with a prominent position on the south route, earned the moniker "the German woman"; she summited in 1979 but died at 8,200 m altitude during her descent. She remained there for many years but was eventually blown further down the mountain.
In 2006, British mountaineer David Sharp was found in a hypothermic state in Green Boots' Cave, by climber Mark Inglis and his party. Inglis continued his ascent without offering assistance, and Sharp died of extreme cold some hours later. Approximately three dozen other climbers would have passed by the dying man that day; it has been suggested that those who noticed him mistook Sharp for Green Boots and therefore paid little attention.
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Adventurer Noel Hanna made this discovery in May 2014, when he was surprised to find not only that Green Boots’ cave was devoid of its familiar resident, but also that many of the bodies on the north side – one stretch of which is sometimes referred to as “rainbow ridge,” for the colourful down suits of its many fallen climbers – seemed to have vanished. Hanna estimates that, previously, up to 10 bodies were visible on the push to the summit, but in 2014 he only counted two or three. “I would be 95% certain that [Paljor] has been moved or covered with stones,” Hanna says.
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