News World Strydom collapsed 15 mins from top of Everest
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Strydom collapsed 15 mins from top of Everest

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Melbourne university lecturer Maria Strydom collapsed just 15 minutes’ climb from the summit of Mt Everest.

She died on the way back down the mountain in her husband’s arms on May 20.

“I asked ‘do you mind if I go on’, and she said ‘yes you go on, I’ll wait for you here’,” her husband Robert Gropel told the Seven Network on Sunday.

I won’t leave Nepal without her: husband
• The body of Everest victim Maria Strydom has been recovered

“From that position the summit didn’t look that far, 15 minutes away.

“When I made it to the summit of Everest it wasn’t special to me because I didn’t have her there.

Monash University
Dr Maria Strydom died at an altitude of about 7800 metres. Photo: Monash University

“I just ran up and down and it didn’t mean anything to me.”

Dr Strydom, 34, was nearing the 8850-metre summit when she fell ill with altitude sickness.

On the way back down the mountain she struggled to walk and started speaking gibberish.

With the medication and more oxygen brought up by Sherpas, Dr Strydom improved and was making her way down.

But she suddenly collapsed and could not be revived.

“I’m her husband, it’s my job to protect my wife and get her home and it’s just natural for me to blame myself,” Mr Gropel said.

“I still can’t look at any pictures of her because it breaks my heart.”

Dr Strydom, a finance lecturer at Monash University, and Mr Gropel, a veterinarian, were vegans who were determined to climb the highest mountains on each continent.

“We want to prove that vegans can do anything and more,” Dr Strydom said in March.

Sherpa climbers brought Dr Strydom’s body down the mountain to Camp 2 on Wednesday, where a rescue helicopter picked her up and took her to Kathmandu on Friday.

“Her body has now been brought to Kathmandu from the mountain,” said Phu Tenzi Sherpa of the Seven Summit Treks that organised her expedition.

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