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Locals Call It 'Rainbow Valley,' But It Isn't As Cheery As It Sounds

MAY 12, 2015  —  By Tim Unkenholz  
Tim Unkenholz

Tim Unkenholz

Writer and stand up comedian in NY. Check out my monthly comedy show Roomie Raiders at the Creek and The Cave! @timunken

It appears that the road to Mt. Everest is just as taxing and brutal as the mountain itself. Based on the name, one might assume that "Rainbow Valley," which is located on the mountain's Northeast Ridge Route, is a meadow full of lollipops and sugar plum fairies. The sad reality is that it got its name from the colorful coats of dead hikers that litter the hillsides. The bodies mummify and become part of the frozen landscape, adding an even more foreboding feeling to an already impossible journey.


The estimated 200 bodies along the Rainbow Valley have mummified in the freezing temperatures. Many are still in full climbing gear.

Some of the corpses are decades old. For instance, this one was climber George Mallory, who attempted to climb Everest way back in 1924.

While some of the climbers have fallen, it's likely that many of them just gave up. Nobody knows why this occurs, but sometimes while passing the valley, climbers will sit down and refuse to go farther, often while startlingly close to safety.

This colorful cadaver has earned the nickname "Green Boots." It's believed to be Indian climber Tsewang Paljor, who attempted to crawl into a cave to escape the harsh conditions.

Because of the potential peril, climbers are basically required to sign their lives away. If they die, they have given permission to their guides to leave their bodies on the hillside. They can also agree to pay a $30,000 recovery fee.

If you've ever needed one more reason not to climb Mt. Everest, look no further than the frozen crypt that is the Rainbow Valley. Keep in mind that some of these corpses were once professional climbers who were renowned for their endurance, but are now just part of this morbid tapestry.

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