Seattle Professor Dr. Jonathan Sugarman Died While Climbing Mt. Everest — What Happened?

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

May 3 2023, Published 1:10 p.m. ET

Mt. Everest
Source: Getty Images

During a May 2023 expedition, Seattle professor Dr. Jonathan Sugarman died while climbing Mt. Everest. He was 69 years old. This came on the heels of a record number of climbing permits being granted by Nepal, despite the concern of experts over "dangerous overcrowding at the summit," per CNN. Here's what we know about Dr. Sugarman's cause of death.

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What was Dr. Jonathan Sugarman's cause of death?

As of this writing, Dr. Sugarman's cause of death is still pending.

According to CNN, Dr. Sugarman was "part of an expedition arranged by Washington state-based International Mountain Guides (IMG) with Beyul Adventure handling the local logistics." While speaking with the outlet on May 2, Pasang Sherpa said that the professor "died at Camp 2 after he began to feel unwell." He went on to say that "his body remains at Camp 2 with the rest of the climbing team."

Camp 2 sits at about 21,000 feet.

Dr. Jonathan Sugarman, Seattle professor who died while climbing Mt. Everest
Source: University of Washington; Getty Images
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The Embassy of the United States issued a statement about Dr. Sugarman's death upon hearing of his passing. "We can confirm Dr. Jonathan Sugarman passed away while climbing Mt. Everest Monday May 1," the statement said. "Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends." As of this writing, the embassy is in touch with Dr. Sugarman's family and is unable to comment further.

The Everest Chronicle reported on May 2 that base camp officials said, "Rescuers are trying to bring down his body to the base camp, which will then be flown to Kathmandu for autopsy." Apparently bad weather is making this task more difficult.

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CNN notes that spring is a popular time for climbing Mt. Everest, as there's typically a short period of time after mid-May when the temperatures are warmer and the high-altitude winds have moved away.

At the time of Dr. Sugarman's death it was snowing on Mt. Everest, forcing most climbers to descend to base camp, which is pitched at about 17,000 feet.

By all accounts, Dr. Sugarman was a respected member of his field. An associate of Dr. Sugarman's spoke with KING 5 Seattle about his late friend: "He pushed us to aim higher. He lead us to aim higher, and that challenge was always balanced with his genuine caring."

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