British climber dies after reaching summit of Mount Everest, being unable to descend

BEIJING (AP) — A British climber died hours after reaching the summit of Mount Everest as he was unable to descend and fellow climbers couldn't bring him down, his climbing team and a Chinese official said Thursday.

Peter Kinloch reached the top of the world's highest mountain on the afternoon of May 25 but died early the next morning, according to SummitClimb, the British-based company he was climbing with.

"It is with our deepest regrets that we report the passing of Peter Kinloch, who was a bright spark in our team, and he is missed very much," the company's statement said.

It did not give details of Kinloch's death, but some British media reports said Kinloch went blind shortly after starting the descent and could not go on. The reports said fellow climbers struggled to help him down but risked putting themselves in danger and had to leave him in the early morning and retreat to camp below.

Among the risks climbers face, aside from the various effects of oxygen deprivation, are high-altitude retinal hemorrhaging, or small areas of bleeding in the eye, and snow blindness, or burning of the cornea by ultraviolet rays.

It was not clear what happened to Kinloch. Some British media said he had suffered temporary blindness in the past, but not when mountaineering.

The 28-year-old motivational speaker was climbing the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) mountain from the Chinese side, the lesser traveled but technically more difficult route. The mountain straddles China and Nepal, and hundreds of people try to climb it each year.

Kinloch died three days after a 13-year-old American boy, Jordan Romero, became the youngest person to reach the top of Mount Everest. Romero also climbed the Chinese side of the mountain.

It was not clear whether an attempt would be made to retrieve Kinloch's body. The bodies of other climbers have been left on the mountain in the past because of the harsh conditions.

"The geography of the area is very complicated, and the weather is often bad. Add the severe lack of oxygen, and it's extremely hard for rescue work to be successfully carried out there," Wang Yongfeng, vice chairman of the China Mountaineering Association, told The Associated Press.

Kinloch is the fourth person to die among people climbing Everest from the Chinese side this year, Wang said.

"Mountaineering is a high-risk event, and the mountaineers are all aware of the risk beforehand," Wang said.

Kinloch seemed to know. "Mount Everest has a fearsome reputation and justifiably so," he wrote on his website. "Although not offering too much of a challenge technically the high altitude can stop even the strongest of climbers in their tracks."

Kinloch had been on a quest to climb the highest peak on each continent.

A British embassy spokesman in Beijing could not immediately be reached Thursday.