Chris Chandler, one of the first two Americans to make an autumn ascent of Mt. Everest during the American Bicentennial Everest Expedition in 1976, has died while trying to climb another Himalayan peak, the Tourism Ministry said Saturday.
Chandler, 36, a physician from Sausalito, Calif., was trying to scale 28,208-foot Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak, with his Australian wife, Louise Bremer Kemp, 39, when he died Jan. 15 of cerebral edema, the ministry said. An edema is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in body tissues, resulting in swelling.
Kemp dragged her husband’s body for four days down the mountain to their base camp with the help of a Nepalese guide. Kemp, her fingers and toes frostbitten, radioed Katmandu for a helicopter airlift off the mountain in eastern Nepal at the Sikkim border.
“Chandler developed altitude sickness on Jan. 15 at 25,843 feet and had a sudden swelling of the brain at 1 p.m.,” ministry spokesman Prachanda Man Singh said. “He was descending off the mountain when he suddenly died a few feet below.”
The husband and wife climbing team were attempting an Alpine-style ascent of Kanchenjunga without assistance from Nepalese Sherpas, the ministry said. It was their second attempt to scale Kanchenjunga since 1979.
On Oct. 8, 1976, Chandler, then living in Seattle, and Bob Cormack, of Boulder, Colo., brought success to the U.S. bicentennial expedition when they scaled 29,028-foot Everest, the world’s highest peak. Everest was first climbed in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. The first American to climb it was James Whittaker, in 1963.