Green Boots was the name given to the unidentified corpse of a climber that became 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 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". 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. Sharp's body was removed the next year, although due to the expense, difficulty, and danger of removing bodies, this removal was uncommon.
Since 2014, Green Boots has been missing, presumably removed or buried.
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 right side, facing away from 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.
In later years, the body could be seen lying on its left side, facing the direction of the summit. Over time, the corpse became known both as a landmark on the north route and for its role in the death of David Sharp. However, since 2014, the body has been missing from view, presumably removed or buried.
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 in 1996, although it is possible the body may instead have been 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. Lesser-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 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 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, 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, 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 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 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 Indian climber curled up in the limestone alcove cave. The cave is located at 27,890 feet (8 500 m), and is littered with oxygen bottles. It is located below the first step on the path. Another person that earned a nickname was "Sleeping Beauty," the body of Francys Distefano-Arsentiev who died in 1998 during an unsuccessful descent from Everest after summiting. Her body remained there until 2007, until it was ceremonially hidden from view. Further bodies are located in "rainbow valley", an area below the summit strewn with corpses in brightly colored mountaineering apparel. Another named corpse was Hannelore Schmatz, who, with a prominent position on the south route, earned the moniker "the German woman"; she summited in 1979 but died at 8200 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 controversially continued his ascent without offering assistance, and Sharp died of extreme cold some hours later. Around three dozen other climbers would have passed by the dying man that day; it has been suggested that those who noticed him mistook him for Green Boots, and therefore paid little attention.
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- on YouTube (French). 31 October 2010.
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- on YouTube. Shot starts around 45 second mark.