28-year-old Orpington woman died after suffering altitude sickness on trekking holiday

Rachel Burke died after suffering altitude sickness on an Everest hike.

Rachel Burke died after suffering altitude sickness on an Everest hike.

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News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , deputy news editor

A 28-YEAR-OLD Orpington woman who loved travel and adventure died during a trekking holiday in Nepal after showing signs of altitude sickness, an inquest has been told.

Rachel Burke, of Rushmore Hill, Orpington booked a three-week trip through The Adventure Company (TAC), based in Crawley, West Sussex.

She flew to Katmandhu, then set out with guides and porters to walk to Everest Base Camp, Southwark Coroners Court heard.

Both TAC and its contractor in Nepal, Himalayan Encounters, had a code of practice stating walkers should ascend no more than 300 to 500 metres in altitude per day.

Yet the two companies approved an itinerary which saw Rachel ascend 610 metres in altitude in a single day, before stopping in the village of Machermo.

Coroner Dr Andrew Harris questioned how it was possible such a route was approved when it contravened both companies' guidelines.

Rachel arrived in Machermo some time after the rest of the group, having struggled to keep up.

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Rachel pictured with her mother Maureen.

She spent the night coughing and unable to lie flat, already showing symptoms of altitude sickness.

Yet tour guide Ashok Phuyal claimed in a written statement made to his employer that he saw no evidence of altitude sickness.

Dr Harris said: "We've already heard Rachel wasn't a complainer.

"She may have played down how unwell she was because she didn't want to let others down, or hold back the group."

The tour guide failed to send her to a rescue post manned by doctors in the same village, or summon a helicopter to airlift her off the mountain.

Instead he sent her with a guide to walk down the mountain to another village, Dole.

Rachel was so unwell that a journey which should have taken three hours took nine to complete.

Later her condition deteriorated rapidly and she died on April 23, 2011.

Father Steven Burke said: "Rachel told me before leaving that she was aware altitude sickness was a danger for anyone taking such a trip.

"But she said it was relatively simple to treat by simply going back down the mountain.

"I felt reassured knowing that she was going on a trip organised by a UK company."

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