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Australian climber dies in Everest's death zone



An Australian climber who survived a car crash and told he might never walk again has died after summiting Mt Everest, according to an expedition organiser and local media reports.

Jason Kennison, 40, is the 10th person to perish on the world's tallest peak this season, after the mining engineer encountered difficulties while above 8000 metres on Everest, known among climbers as the death zone.

The Himalayan Times reported Kennison had struggled after he had successfully reached Everest's 8849m peak, and he was helped by members of his expedition to the Balcony area, around 450 metres lower than the summit.

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Two Sherpa guides had noticed he was behaving abnormally, the Times said.

"They ran out of oxygen and bringing supplement bottles from Camp IV couldn't be possible due to excessive winds," Dawa Steven Sherpa, managing director at Asian Trekking, said.

The Balcony is a small platform, situated around 8400m, where climbers can rest and soak up views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks.

Kennison spoke with Today only two months ago, revealing how he had suffered multiple broken bones and a spinal cord injury after a road accident in 2006 and spent years in recovery, having to learn how to walk again.

Doctors told Kennison he might be stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Discussing his looming Everest climb, Kennison said he was still overcoming his fear of heights and ways to combat vertigo.

Kennison was climbing to raise funds for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia to help others in similar situations. 

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Climbers call any part of a mountain above 8000m "the death zone" because, at these altitudes, oxygen levels are insufficient to sustain human life for an extended period.

Climbing in the death zone severely affects the lungs and brain. has contacted Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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More to come.

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