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An Australian woman who attempted to climb Mount Everest in an effort to prove that "vegans can do anything" died Saturday after developing altitude sickness during her ascent
Maria Strydom, 34, and her husband, Robert Gropel, climbed to the final camp from the summit of the mountain -- less than a quarter-mile from the highest point of the mountain -- when they both began suffering from high-altitude pulmonary edema, Time reported.
The condition -- triggered by lack of oxygen -- caused fluid to build up in Strydom’s brain, The Washington Post reported.
Gropel survived and was taken to a Nepal hospital for treatment.
“Physically he’s OK, we think,” Gropel's father, Heinz Gropel, told The Australian. “Mentally he is a mess. He’s just lost his wife. These guys were not amateurs. They were experienced climbers.”
Strydom, a finance lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, planned to take a monthlong break from her teaching job to scale Everest.
In a blog post, she wrote that the successful climb would help challenge people's ideas that vegans have iron and protein deficiencies.
“It seems that people have this warped idea of vegans being malnourished and weak,” Strydom said. “By climbing the seven summits we want to prove that vegans can do anything and more.”
Gropel, who is a veterinarian, is also a vegan.
Strydom wrote that she had already climbed Denali in Alaska, Aconcagua in Argentina, Mount Ararat in Turkey and Kilamanjaro in Kenya.
She said that after climbing Everest, she would seek out "the next adventure, being either a repeat of Everest or a trip to Mount Vinson in Antarctica."
Strydom was one of four people to die climbing Everest over the course of four days. Eric Arnold, 35, is one of the deceased. He was part of Gropel's climbing party.