Michael Matthews, tragedy of one of the youngest men to summit Mount Everest
Michael matthews Everest

Michael Matthews was a 22-year-old climber from London who tragically lost his life on May 13, 1999, while descending from the summit of Mt. Everest. He was wearing a red Northface Himalayan down suit with black trim, black One-Sport boots with yellow trim, and was carrying a silver metal ice axe. It is believed that he was approximately 200-300 meters above the balcony when he passed away. Despite requests and investigations, his body has never been found.

Matthews had a dream to climb Mt. Everest and became the youngest climber from the UK to reach the summit. He was an attractive and likable man, the son of a millionaire, and a renowned merchant in London at a young age. On the day he passed away, he was with his mountain guide, Mike Smith, and they both made it to the top. Three hours later, Matthews disappeared while battling gales and snow. He became the 162nd person to die on the mountain.

The expedition group descended through the death zone, which is above 8000 meters above sea level, causing a bitter dispute between the Matthews family, the tour guides, and the company that organized the expedition. The Matthews family took legal action against the guiding company, OTT Expeditions, claiming that the guides had defrauded their son. However, the company stated that the young man knew the inherent dangers of climbing the mountain.

Matthews’ family blamed three guides, Nick Kekus, Martin Doyle, and Mike Smith, and took legal action against John Tinker, the former co-director of OTT Expeditions. Tinker defended the expedition, stating that climbing Everest is extremely dangerous, and they made that clear to the Matthews family before Michael joined the expedition.

A documentary was made about Matthews’ story, and the family’s accusations sparked fear among the guides that another version of events would be presented. Matthews’ father, David Matthews, made his feelings widely known and even threatened to take legal action against OTT Expeditions. The family is currently considering filing a suit against four of the guides on the expedition, including one who returned home early due to illness.

The Tragic Story of Michael Matthews: A Controversial Expedition to Everest

The climb to Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, has always been considered an ultimate adventure for mountaineers. However, this mountain has a reputation as a dangerous and unforgiving place where many have lost their lives. Michael Matthews, a young British climber, was one of those who tragically perished on this mountain on May 13, 1999, while attempting to summit Everest.

Matthews’ climb was part of an expedition organized by OTT Expeditions, a reputable company that had successfully taken 29 climbers to the top of the mountain without any accidents. Matthews paid $40,000 for his place on the trip, hoping to fulfill his dream of conquering the world’s highest peak. However, his climb turned out to be a fatal one, leading to a long and bitter dispute between his family, the tour guides, and the company that organized the expedition.

Irregularities in the Company and Controversial Claims

Two months after Michael’s death, irregularities in the company and controversial claims by fellow climbers came to light. The oxygen equipment was found to be not up to the standards promised by the company. Two Canadian climbers claimed that one of the guides, Nick Kekus, had tried to hit Michael with an oxygen tank. Such allegations led to a bitter dispute between the Matthews family and the expedition organizers, who claimed that Michael was aware of the dangers inherent in climbing the mountain and that the expedition was not poorly organized.

The Disappearance of Michael Matthews

The exact circumstances of Michael Matthews’ disappearance are still unclear, and various versions of events have been put forward. According to one version, Mike Smith, the mountain guide who accompanied Matthews, abandoned his client while fighting a storm at the last obstacle before the summit. Another version suggests that Matthews became disoriented from exhaustion and crossed a ledge or was blown downhill by the wind. Still, another version claims that Kekus attempted to hit him with an oxygen tank.

The Long-lasting Dispute

Michael Matthews’ family took legal action against the tour guides and the expedition company, claiming that they had defrauded their son. The guides feared that this could give another version of what happened, leading to a long and bitter dispute that lasted for several years. John Tinker, former co-director of OTT Expeditions, was also taken to court. The company claimed that Michael knew the dangers inherent in climbing the mountain and that they made it perfectly clear to the Matthews family before Michael joined the expedition. They also insisted that their equipment was tried and tested, and they knew that they put people’s lives at risk if they didn’t meet safety standards.

The Michael Matthews Foundation and the Documentary

Michael Matthews’ two brothers, James and Spencer, decided to make a documentary to help raise money for the Michael Matthews Foundation, which supports educational projects in Africa and Asia. The foundation aims to help the world’s poorest people by building vital school infrastructure. They also hope that this film project can bring some peace to their family after the loss of their brother.

Lessons learned

The tragic death of Michael Matthews highlights the risks involved in climbing Mount Everest, even for experienced climbers. While there are no guarantees in mountaineering, climbers can take steps to reduce their risk of injury or death, such as:

  1. Proper training and experience: Climbers should have extensive experience and training before attempting to climb Mount Everest. This includes technical climbing skills, altitude acclimatization, and high-altitude first aid.
  2. High-quality gear: Climbers should invest in high-quality gear that is designed for extreme conditions. This includes clothing, footwear, and equipment such as ropes, carabiners, and ice axes.
  3. Experienced guides: Climbers should choose an experienced guide or guiding company that has a proven track record of success on Mount Everest.
  4. Proper acclimatization: Climbers should spend sufficient time at high altitude to allow their bodies to acclimatize to the reduced oxygen levels.
  5. Adequate oxygen: Climbers should carry adequate oxygen supplies and use them properly, in accordance with their guide’s instructions.


The tragic death of Michael Matthews on Mount Everest is a sobering reminder of the risks involved in mountaineering. While it is impossible to eliminate all risk, climbers can take steps to reduce their risk of injury or death by following proper safety protocols and working with experienced guides and companies. The Matthews family’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of climbing Everest serve as an important reminder that safety should always be the top priority when attempting to summit the world’s highest peak.


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