A vegan woman who attempted to climb Mount Everest to demonstrate that “vegans can do anything” died on Saturday afternoon at an Everest base camp before reaching the summit.
The woman, Maria Strydom, was a professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, reports the Daily Mail.
Strydom, a 34-year-old citizen of South Africa, described herself as an experienced mountain climber.
On Friday, she turned back during the last leg of her expedition after she began to feel ill.
Strydom’s husband, Robert Gropel, was climbing with her. He is also a vegan. He carried on and, it is believed, made it to the summit without her.
Meanwhile, Strydom returned to Camp 4, the highest base camp — at 26,085 feet — before the 29,029-foot summit.
She did not recover. She died on Saturday due to lack of oxygen, according to a spokesman for a Nepalese expedition company.
A few weeks before she died on Mount Everest, Strydom promised in an interview that she and her husband would demonstrate the physical strength of vegans.
“It seems that people have this warped idea of vegans being malnourished and weak,” the professor wrote, according to the Mail.
“By climbing the seven summits we want to prove that vegans can do anything and more.”
Strydom also complained in the interview about other, lesser climbers.
“We’ve all heard stories of frostbite and having to turn around from excessive waiting times due to inexperienced people blocking routes,” she said.
“This can lead to life threatening situations and death where Sherpas and other climbers have to risk their lives to attempt rescues.”
Strydom’s body remained on Mount Everest as of Sunday, waiting for a Sherpa to “carry the body to Camp 1 where an air ambulance” will have access, the British newspaper noted.
Strydom’s mother said she is devastated. Earlier, she had said the mission of her daughter and her son-in-law had been to “demonstrate that vegan people can achieve anything everyone else can.”
Some reports suggest Gropel, Strydom’s husband, is in fine condition. Others suggest he is injured. In any case, he is believed to be the first vegan to ascend to the summit of Mount Everest successfully.
A second Everest climber, Dutch national Eric Ary Arnold, also died this weekend. Arnold died after making it to the summit of the world’s tallest peak.
Thirty climbers became ill climbing the mountain this weekend.
A pair of Indian climbers is missing as well.
Mount Everest is fraught with danger. An earthquake killed 18 climbers last year and an avalanche took the lives of 16 guides in 2014, notes BBC News.