CT resident who died on Mount Everest was 'devoted mountaineer,' colleague says

A file photo of Mount Everest in Nepal. A Swiss climber and a Connecticut resident died on Mount Everest this week, expedition organizers said Thursday.

A file photo of Mount Everest in Nepal. A Swiss climber and a Connecticut resident died on Mount Everest this week, expedition organizers said Thursday.

Tashi Sherpa / Associated Press

A Connecticut resident who was one of two people who died hiking on Mount Everest this week was remembered by a colleague as an avid photographer and devoted mountaineer.

Puwei Liu, 55, and 41-year-old Swiss hiker Abdul Waraich died Wednesday, becoming the season’s first fatalities on the world’s highest mountain, according to the Associated Press.

Kathryn Corbally, a communications official for a Henkel, said Liu was a company employee based in Connecticut. She said the company is “deeply saddened by the loss of one of our team members.”

Chhang Dawa Sherpa, director of Seven Summit Treks, the expedition company that organized the climb for both men, wrote in an Instagram post that Liu experienced snow blindness as well as exhaustion when coming down from Hillary Step. Sherpa said Liu made it to the South Col “late Wednesday evening.”

Sherpa confirmed in an email that Liu was a Glastonbury resident.

Yu Chen, a colleague of Liu, said in the description of a GoFundMe campaign set up to help support Liu’s family that support team members met the hiker with oxygen.

“He was brought back to the camp at South Col where he eventually died,” Chen said.

“We are deeply saddened by the news that our beloved friend, devoted mountaineer Puwei passed away ... while trying to conquer Mount Everest,” Chen said.

A Department of State spokesperson said in an email that the agency was “unable to confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in Nepal.”

“The Department of State stands ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance whenever a U.S. citizen passes away abroad,” a spokesperson wrote.

Liu is survived by his wife, Qin Zuo, and three children, one in college and the other two in high school, according to Chen. A woman reached at a number listed for Zuo declined to comment.

Chen said moving the body, citing two trips that will each cost roughly $25,000, is expected to cost a combined $50,000. The remaining funds, Chen said, will go toward the cost of the funeral and other financial needs, including school tuition for the three children. The total goal for the fundraiser is set at $100,000.

In less than 24 hours, more than $9,000 had been raised.

Chen said Liu climbed Manaslu in 2017. Manaslu, also in Nepal, is the eighth-highest mountain in the world and the fourth most dangerous 8,000-meter peak.

“Puwei is an avid photographer who loves to capture the beauty of the nature along his trips,” Chen said. “At work, he is equally passionate about science and technologies. Puwei is a highly productive and accomplished innovator and has made significant contributions to America’s technology developments in the area of material science for electronic industry.”

Chen said Liu was very kind and approachable. Chen said Liu mentored many young scientists and was always around to help his colleagues.

“We are so heartbroken to lose him,” Chen said. “He has been such an inspiration to our communities and we truly miss him.”