“But in the end, the mountain has the last say,” wrote singer Sushma Soma on Instagram a few hours ago, quoting her husband, Mt Everest summiter Shrinivas Sainis Dattatraya, who went missing on his way down on May 19. The Indian-origin climber from Singapore has not been found after about eight days of search, and the family appears to have accepted that he may never be found.
Sushma posted a series of photos on Instagram, showing Shrinivas at the summit of Mt Everest — a moment every mountaineer dreams of — and on other mountains, such as Manaslu in the Nepalese Himalayas; Denali in Alaska, United States; and Pik Lenin in Tajikistan. Her post explained what has been known for a while already, that Shrinivas developed high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) and “could not make it back down”.
In a series of Instagram posts on the handle sushmasaurus, she continued: “He was 39 — and in his glorious and rich life, he lived fearlessly and to the fullest. He explored the depths of the sea and scaled the greatest heights of the Earth. And now, Shri is in the mountains — where he felt most at home.”
No information released over the past eight days explained why Shrinivas went missing altogether, even if he did not survive HACE and frostbite. The mystery of an Everest climber who could not be found despite being clipped to a fixed rope would not be solved now, since the futile search and rescue (SAR) operation seems to have come to an end, as reflected in his wife’s closure notes.
Sushma’s Instagram notes did not raise any questions about how, when, and why Shrinivas had “fallen down” the mountain slope at a height of around 8,000 metres, as it was described in the family’s Change.org campaign (“Let’s bring Shrinivas back”), which was begun last week to mobilise a bigger SAR operation. The campaign was closed before it could reach its 35,000 signature goal.
Instead, the Instagram notes were all about acceptance and making peace with fate. Sushma thanked various parties involved in the SAR operations for Shrinivas, especially “his guide, Dendi Sherpa, for being his trusted companion through all the formidable Himalayan mountains and always putting Shri first, even before himself”. She wrote that “their bond was special”.
This note also thanked the Sherpas from the expedition organising company Seven Summit Treks and “others from the climbing community” who helped with the SAR operations. “You are all such warriors, thank you,” wrote Sushma. Then she thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore, Singapore High Commission in New Delhi, Indian High Commission in Singapore, and the Singapore Embassy in Beijing. The Napalese and Chinese governments were mentioned in the thank-you note. Various officials were named for their special support to the family. Finally, she thanked Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the real estate company that employed Shrinivas in Singapore.
Sushma ended the post saying: “Thank you everyone for the love and concern. We are deeply touched.”
Climbing community members responded to her series of photos and notes by recalling their time with Shrinivas. Jacob Weasel, an American climber, wrote that he had summited Mt Everest two days before Shrinivas and had been in touch with the latter. Weasel had also climbed Denali with Shrinivas.
On Instagram, Jacob Weasel said: “Sushma, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Shri and I spent 20 days on Denali together and though we were unable to connect in person, we texted with each other at Everest base camp before and between rotations on the mountain… I summited [on] May 17, two days prior to Shri.”
“I came to know your husband as a kind, thoughtful, conscientious man. He was an experienced mountaineer and I personally saw him save another climber and possibly the rest of his rope team when he self arrested with his ice axe on the Autobahn above Denali’s high camp when we were turned around. He was a great man and I have mourned his loss these last days and will continue to do so,” wrote the fellow mountaineer.
Weasel concluded: “My deepest condolences… Shri was an extraordinary person and the world is a little less bright without his presence. Again, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.”