Dr. Roland Yearwood, 50, from Alabama, died Sunday while trying to scale Mount Everest, according to The New York Times. Dr. Yearwood had been part of a 15-member team climbing the mountain. Dr. Yearwood died near the summit of the mountain, at 27,600 feet. That height of the mountain is often referred to as the ‘death zone’, due to thin air. The cause of death is not immediately known, according to The Times.
It is also unclear if he was on his way up or down the mountain at the time of his death, according to Daily Mail.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Yearwood Was Part of a Record Number of Climbers Trying to Scale Everest This Year
Dr. Yearwoood, an experienced climber, was attempting to be part of a record number of climbers trying to scale the world’s highest peak in 2017, according to The Washington Post.
The Nepalese Tourism Department has issued a record number of permits to 317 climbers, who will attempt to scale the 29,000-foot summit, reports the New York Post.
The Post reported that May is the best month to climb the mountain, and last year the Nepalese government issued permits to 289 climbers. Mount Everest had its highest death toll ever in 2015, when 22 climbers were killed, according to Daily Mail.
2. Yearwood Was a Doctor in Alabama and Married to a Physician
Dr. Yearwood was a physician at Georgiana Medical Center in Butler County. He completed his hospital training in London and New York City, according to the hospital’s website. He had been providing primary care for the last 20 years and is married to another local physician named Amrita. The couple has two daughters currently attending college.
During his spare time he enjoyed sailing, diving, and flying, according to the hospital’s site. He was currently in the process of climbing the tallest summits on each of the 7 continents.
Dr. Yearwood’s wife, Amrita, is an internal medicine doctor who practices in Evergreen, AL. She is 48-years-old and has been practicing for 26 years. She is affiliated with Evergreen Medical Center, according to healthgrades.com.
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3. Survived an Earthquake-Triggered Avalanche in 2015
In 2015, Dr. Yearwood was caught in an earthquake during his first attempt at climbing the mountain.
18 climbers were killed during the avalanche, according to Yellow Hammer. Dr. Yearwood stayed to help after the devastating earthquake that killed more than 4,000 Nepalese men, women and children, with an additional 7,000 injuries, according to YellowHammer.
In an interview with AL.com, after the earthquake, Dr. Amrita Yearwood had the following to say about her husband:
“He is always calm. He does a lot of sports. He is adventurous. He doesn’t get freaked out.”
4. Yearwood Joins Other Notable Climbers Who Have Died on the Mountain This Year
Dr. Yearwood joins two other notable climbing related deaths on Mount Everest this year. The first was famed Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck, who fell while on a training run on a nearby peak earlier in the season, according to The Washington Post.
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The other famous climber was Min Bahadur Sherchan, an 85-year-old mountaineer who died of a heart attack at base camp on May 6. Sherchan was trying to reclaim the title of oldest to climb Mount Everest, according to The Guardian.
5. Yearwood Is One of Four Climbers Who Died Over the Weekend
An Indian climber, Ravi Kumar, was found over this past weekend. Kumar, who had been missing, was spotted by Sherpa rescuers but his body was not recoverable. It appeared Kumar had fallen some 650 feet below the route, according to AL.com. Kumar fell sick on his way down from the summitt on Saturday and did not make it to the nearest camp, though his accompanying Nepalese Sherpa guide did reach camp, according to AL.com
A Slovak climber, Vladimir Strba, 50, also died on Sunday, according to Tourism Ministry official Gyanendra Shrestha. His body was brought to the South Col camp.
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The fourth person to pass away this weekend, and sixth of the season, was Australian climber Francesco Enrico Marchetti. Marchetti, 54, from Queensland, died on the Chinese side of Everest, according to the Chicago Tribune.