MT Everest Green Boots Gone - 1996 Everest Disaster

It was the year of unsolved mysteries: Plane crashes, a bomb explosion during the Olympics, the Simpson civil trial. It was also a year of hope: the infamous Unabomber suspect was finally arressted, and AIDS patients got a new lease on life. In the USA, a 96-hour marathon wasn't enough to win the election for former Senator Robert Dole, and Bill Clinton became the first Democrat to win the presidency twice since Franklin Roosevelt. I personally loved the 90's. It was also the year of the Mt Everest Disaster of 1996 that occurred on May 10th & 11th, which led to the loss of eight lives. The blizzard caused the deadliest day and deadliest year on Mount Everest until the 2014 Mt. Everest avalanche, which resulted in 16 casualties.

On May 10, 1996, a team of six Indian climbers from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police expedition were attempting to summit when the deadly blizzard began. Just short of the peak, three of the six chose to continue with the summit while the others returned to base camp. Climbers Subedar Tsewang Samanla, Lance Naik (Lance Corporal) Dorje Morup and Head Constable Tsewang Paljor contacted the three team members who had returned to base camp via radio to notify them they had reached the summit and would be descending shortly.

The three men left prayer flags, Khatas (traditional Tibetan Buddhist ceremonial scarfs) and placed pitons (metal spikes used in mountain climbing as anchor points to prevent a fall and aid in climbing) atop the mountain. Samanla, who was the leader of the expedition instructed Dorje Morup and Tsewang Paljor to begin descent as he remained behind to conduct a religious ceremony from the mountains peak.

Tsewang Paljor

What happened next remains a mystery. All that's certain is that the three men died in the 1996 Everest Disaster. The team didn't make any additional radio contact with their team members at base camp and never returned. Evidence suggests they may have never even made it to the actual summit, appearing to have stopped 430 feet (150 meters) short due to confusion from poor visibility.

A team of Japanese climbers may have seen one or more of the Indian climbers, but failed to assist them because they were unaware the three climbers had been reported missing. The Japanese team claimed during their descent they saw a person on a fixed rope and a second unidentifiable object which may have also been a human. One team member from the Japanese expedition even greeted another unidentified climber, possibly a missing member of the Indian expedition. Although the Japanese team aided the unidentified climber in transitioning to their next set of ropes, the climber did not otherwise seem to be in need of assistance. Eventually, a body was discovered under the overhang of a boulder along the Northeast Ridge Route at 27,890 feet (8500 meters), near Camp 6. The corpse was found lying next beside a rucksack with clothing intact but no gloves on.

Oxygen bottles lying next to Green Boot’s body

The green boots worn by the deceased climber led people to refer to him simply as “Green Boots” and the limestone alcove he was discovered in as “Green Boots Cave”. Green Boot’s Kolflach boots appear to be more yellow than green in many photographs. This is most likely due to lighting and over time the boots may have faded as well.

People have long believed the body in the small cave was that of Tsewang Paljor who had been wearing a pair of green Koflach boots when he was last seen alive. An article published in the Himalayan Journal in 1997 put forth the theory that the body is actually Dorje Morup and Paljor’s body was never discovered.

Dorje Morup


After the avalanche of 10 May 1996, serious debates and arguments emerged in order to accentuate failures in recovery of dead corpses at Everest. Talks about the accountability of such mountaineering expeditions have marshaled into heated exchange of words between various stakeholders. Debate about commercialization of the Everest has also emerged in recent years. Consequently, neither the expedition companies nor the state agencies claim responsibility in recovering the corpses at Mt. Everest. Issues revolving around ethical concern have become quite common. Some consider these concerns to be stale bread.

Green Boots Sadly

A Tourist Attraction

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 left side, facing toward 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.

For years, climbers on Everest's north side knew they were getting close to the summit if they saw Palijor's body. When snow cover is light, some climbers have even had to step over his extended legs on their way through. Why so many bodies remain on the mountain years after the person's death is due to a few different factors. One, some mountaineers and professional climbers who die on the mountain prefer to remain there, co-opting a tradition from seafarers more than a hundred years ago.

The major reason so many bodies are left in open view is due to the expense and danger involved with removing them. Returning a body to a family can cost thousands of dollars and require help from six to eight people, all of whom may be putting their own lives in danger just to retrieve someone else. Actually trying to get a body back down the mountain can be incredibly difficult."

Even picking up a candy wrapper high up on the mountain is a lot of effort, because it's totally frozen and you have to dig around it," said Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association to the BBC.

"A dead body that normally weighs 80 kg might weigh 150 kg when frozen and dug out with the surrounding ice attached."

Green Boots Vanishes

Green Boots Removed In 2014

It is unknown when the term Green Boots entered Everest parlance. Over the years it had 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.

Common theory here is that Green Boots was removed by Sherpas or possibly climbers. Most likely he was rolled over a ridge out of public view. Sadly this is not the case, as you can clearly see if this is Green boots he is dangling off a ridge in the picture above.

Climbing Mount Everest has become much safer over the past decade thanks to advances in technology and climbing gear. Satellite phones allow a climber to stay in contact with base camp to get constant updates on weather systems in the area. A better understanding of exactly what kind and how much gear to take has also caused the death toll to drop dramatically. Let us hope that things like these, happen less and less.

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