Immortalising Cheruiyot Kirui: The Push for 'Cheruiyot Point' on Mt Everest

Cheruiyot Kirui at the summit of a previous expedition.
Cheruiyot Kirui Instagram

Calls are intensifying to name the spot where celebrated Kenyan climber Cheruiyot Kirui perished on Mount Everest in his honour. 

The push for recognition has gained significant traction, with both Kenyans and the global mountaineering community backing the initiative.

The campaign, spearheaded by Everest Today, an organisation documenting mountaineering events in the Himalayas, has seen online supporters joining the cause. 

Everest Today launched the movement with a series of tweets stating, “Let's call Cheruiyot Kirui's death spot on Mt #Everest (8,848.86 m) 'Cheruiyot Point' honouring the first African almost to the summit of Everest without using supplementary oxygen.”

Kirui's body was discovered at 8,800 meters, just 49 meters shy of the summit of the World's tallest mountain.

Mount Everest, which straddles the border between China and Nepal, stands at a towering 8,849 meters.

The campaign aims to immortalise Kirui, who was on the brink of becoming the first African to nearly summit Everest without supplementary oxygen. 

Everest Today, known for chronicling mountaineering on the world’s highest peaks, has been a vocal advocate for this recognition.

Cheruiyot Kirui, an accomplished climber with over ten ascents of Mount Kenya, went missing above 8,800 meters on Everest on Wednesday. 

His body was found lifeless in the 'death zone'—an area above 8,000 meters known for its perilous conditions—on Thursday morning.

Cheruiyot Kirui at the Mt Everest base camp.
Cheruiyot Kirui Instagram

"With profound sadness, we share the news of Kenyan mountaineer Cheruiyot Kirui's passing on Mt Everest. His body was found a few meters below the summit point of Mt Everest," reported Everest Today, which extensively covers mountaineering over the Himalayas and Karakoram, focusing particularly on 8,000-meter peaks.

In addition to the push for 'Cheruiyot Point', Everest Today suggested that a mountain in Kenya be named after Kirui to honour his legacy.

 "There should be one mountain named after Cheruiyot Kirui, 'Mt Cheruiyot', in Kenya, honouring the first African who almost to the summit of Everest without using supplementary oxygen," it said

Kirui, a banker by profession, embarked on his quest to conquer Mount Everest with Nepali climber Nawang Sherpa. 

His attempt without supplemental oxygen underscored his determination, courage, and relentless pursuit of an extraordinary goal despite the immense risks involved.

The effort to repatriate Kirui's body from the treacherous heights of Everest presents a significant challenge, potentially costing upwards of Ksh13 million ($100,000). 

Kirui's expedition, with a budget exceeding Ksh7 million (£47,000), left no stone unturned as he drew from his extensive experience scaling formidable peaks like Nepal's Mount Manaslu.

Amidst the grief and logistical hurdles, a poignant question remains: Did Kirui wish to be interred on Everest’s icy slopes, or did his heart long for the tranquil soil of his homeland in Kenya? 

The answer remains elusive, intensifying the anguish for Kirui's loved ones as they navigate the complexities of repatriating his body.

The push to commemorate Kirui through 'Cheruiyot Point' and potentially 'Mt Cheruiyot' in Kenya represents a fitting tribute to his indomitable spirit and significant contributions to mountaineering. 

As support continues to grow, the hope is that Kirui's legacy will inspire future generations of climbers, both in Kenya and around the world.

Cheruiyot Kirui on the Summit of Manaslu in September 2023.
Kenyan climber Cheruiyot Kirui on the Summit of Manaslu in September 2023.
James Muhia
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