Monday, 5 April 2010

Abandoned on Everest



In 2006, a lone climber attempting the summit of Mount Everest for the third time was, purely by chance, caught in an amateur photograph taken by another climber of the scenic mountaintop ahead. The climber in the photograph was making his way up what is known as the Final Push of the Northeast ridge, between Camp VI at 8,230 m and the summit. It was late in the afternoon, a foolishly reckless time to undertake the lengthy and dangerous route.

It would be many hours before the the photographer and his climbing team saw the man again. Leaving the camp at the recommended time, shortly before midnight in order to reach the summit at daybreak, they were first in line of a total of roughly 40 climbers attempting the Final Push that day. A long train of men, all tethered to the lengths of rope permanently in place to keep climbers on the right track.



For decades, this rope had taken climbers within a few feet of what became known as Green Boots cave. A small limestone overhang located at 8500 m, it was already infamous among climbers for the same reason it earned its nickname. For the past ten years, the body of a climber who died in 1996 has been a grim landmark for every climber of the Northeast route, lying curled up in the fetal position, wearing fluorescent green mountaineering boots.



This morning, however, Green Boots had company. Sitting no more than two feet to the left of the corpse was a man who at first glance appeared to be dead. His gloved hands were on his knees, his hood and hat cast his face in shadow. The only feature visible was the man's severely frostbitten nose, already a greenish black hue. On closer inspection, the vapor from the man's breath could be seen rising.

What happened next entered the folklore of the highest mountain on earth. Every man interviewed gives a different story. What is certain is that every single one of the 40-odd climbers attempting the summit that day left the man in the cave, whose name was David Sharp, to freeze, either by choice, by ignorance, or by misjudging him as a corpse they already expected to see in that infamous cave.

While chilling in itself, the incident pales in the bigger context of the deadliness of Mount Everest. For every ten climbers who have ever reached the summit, the mountain has claimed one of them. In the 56 years since the first men in history reached the top, 216 people have died, and the grim reality of the horrific conditions of the Final Push is that 150 bodies have never been, and likely can never be, recovered. They are all still there, and located, almost without exception, in the Death Zone.



Above a certain altitude, no human can ever acclimatize. Known as the Death Zone, only on 14 mountains worldwide can one step beyond the 8000 meter mark and know that no amount of training or conditioning will ever allow you to spend more than 48 hours there. The oxygen level in the Death Zone is only one third of the sea level value, which in simple terms means the body will use up its store of oxygen faster than breathing can replenish it.

In such conditions, odd things happen to human physical and mental states. A National Geographic climber originally on Everest to document Brian Blessed's (ultimately botched) attempt at summiting, described the unsettling hallucinogenic effects of running out of oxygen in the Death Zone. The insides of his tent seemed to rise above him, taking on cathedral-like dimensions, robbing him of all strength, clouding his judgement. Any stay in the Death Zone without supplementary oxygen is like being slowly choked, all the while having to perform one of the hardest physical feats imaginable.



Lack of oxygen and treacherous terrain are not the only challenges on Everest, however. Ascents are very rarely attempted outside a very short window between May and June when conditions are at their absolute best, with average temperatures of -27 degrees celcius, and 50 mph winds. But Mount Everest is so high that the top actually penetrates into the stratosphere, where winds known as Jet Streams can flow up to 200 mph, driving temperatures down to minus 73 degrees celcius.

Any exposed skin at high altitudes, even at the best of conditions, are prone to frost bite. A reaction to extreme cold, frost bite starts when blood vessels in the skin contract to preserve core body temperature, in conditions where normal blood flow would lead to the body cooling dangerously fast.



Over time, if the exposed areas of skin are not heated, the lack of blood flow causes tissue death and, even if reheated, gangrene. At this stage, amputations are common.


Climbers are by no means ignorant of these facts. They are reiterated in every source, in every article, and somehow adds to the dangerous allure of the mountain.


But in the words of David Brashears, five time summiteer of Everest, "there had been nothing in my training to prepare me to pass through the open graveyard waiting above."


The case of Hannelore Schmatz is an infamous one. On October 2, 1979, after a successful summit, and for reasons unclear, she died of exhaustion 100 meters short of reaching Camp IV. For years, any climber attempting the southern route could see her body, sitting, leaning against her backpack with her eyes open and brown hair blowing in the wind. Despite being so exposed and so visible along the well-trodden climbing route, rescue operations are virtually suicidal in the Death Zone. A Nepalese police inspector and a Sherpa who tried to recover Hannelore's body in 1984 both fell to their deaths. It was finally high winds that blew her remains over the edge and down the Kangshung face.



An area along the northeast route to the summit has earned the unassuming nickname of "Rainbow Valley", simply because of the multicolored down jackets of the numerous corpses littering the hillside. Even in the harsh conditions of lethal altitudes, corpses can remain for decades, some appearing frozen in time with climbing gear intact.



Brashears explains, "Despite the snow and ice, Everest is as dry as a desert, the sun and wind quickly mummify human remains." The picture below serves as an example, it shows the corpse of mountaineer George Mallory, lost on Everest in 1924, and the state in which it was found in 1999 after 75 years exposed.




No study has ever been done on the causes of death on Everest, what it is that makes people sit down and give up sometimes within shouting distance of safety. But climbers refer to a kind of confrontation with fear that they experience at a certain point up the mountain. The realization that, not only will you not be able to help anyone else in trouble, but if you mess up, in any way, no one will likely be able to help you either.

Media term it "summit fever", the apparent callousness that drives mountaineers to disregard ethics on their Everest ascents, sometimes literally climbing over dead bodies to reach their goals. But whatever the preparation and outlandish cost, perhaps it's not simply ruthless determination that makes someone abandon their team mates, and yet still have the energy to summit. In such alien conditions, utterly hostile to human life, climbers might face their own mortality. Under the spectre of pure, unadulterated fear, they must realize that they are beyond help as well as beyond helping anyone else.

If they don't, they fall among those who never leave, abandoned on Everest.









Online Documentaries:
Dark Side of Everest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQJQapyHAQg
Dying For Everest: http://www.documentary-film.net/search/watch.php?&ref=132

384 comments:

  1. This article raises many unsettling ideas. I know that people spend months training for the ascent attempt. I KNOW that they sit for weeks at Base Camp sometimes, acclimatising, and I KNOW that they have spent thousands of pounds to get there, taken weeks off work, and have built up so many hopes and thoughts of personal achievement etc etc.

    BUT, the idea that someone relatively fit and healthy (though certainly tired) can walk past another person who is dying and, with little more than a cursory nod, just LEAVE THEM there with a sad shrug of the shoulders? I can't reconcile that. OK, perhaps the possibility of getting this person down is negligible, but at the very least, are people so wrapped up in their own achievements that they cannot even stay with the dying climber a while if their death is certain and imminent?

    Climbers who might read this would dub me over-sentimental, unrealistic and ignorant of the conditions and possibilities on a place like EVerest. I don't care if people climb Everest in the full knowledge and acceptance of its dangers. Putting myself in the shoes of the successful climbers, the ones who made it to the top at the expense of their humanity, the thought occurs that, ten years later, would I be sitting proud of my having conquered the mountain or would I instead be haunted by the fact I had left someone to die and done nothing?

    I'm prepared to accept I know nothing of the real situation and that climbing Everest is a true feat - but this is the issue I can't get past.

    On the other side, well written again.You certainly inspired a response. :) Lindsey.

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  2. Powerful story on something I had little knowledge of. Thanks.

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  3. I see they are sending a team to clear up in the Death Zone - the reports say they hope to bring out 17 kilos of rubbish at a time! i think the bodies will be there for a lot longer.

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  4. Thanks for commenting! I found the article you're referring to, interesting read. They're aiming for 3000 kg of garbage, which is just outrageously unlikely. Conversely they're only planning to bring down five bodies. But I agree with you, those will be a lot harder to get down than empty oxygen bottles and abandoned tents.

    Article link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/sherpas-set-out-to-clear-everest-of-garbage-and-corpses/article1539951/

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  5. A gripping post man really well written, kept me locked in until the bitter end.

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  6. Amazing blog, keep it up!

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  7. It was Sharps third attempt, and he cut every corner he could. undoubtedly he had seen the grim sentinels that mark the way through the death zone on his two previous attempts. And those who passed him by without helping him, who are we to judge them.

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  8. great blog.
    glad to have found it.

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  9. Lindsey, the reality of the death zone is that no one can survive there for more than a few dozen hours at most. Even after someone is incapacitated and can no longer walk, it can take many hours before they finally die. Asking someone to simply sit with a dying climber is putting that person's life at risk, both in terms of the lost time they'll need to get back down and the fact that they'll no longer be generating any body heat by moving. With no movement, joints and muscles will cool and stiffen, making climbing back down even more difficult.

    As for your criticism of climbers who survive while others have died, human nature is to explore - the environment, the body's abilities and each person's own willpower. Asking people to give up a pursuit simply because someone else died or will die in that same pursuit would be to take away people's humanity.

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  10. Who is the person in the last photo? I've never managed to find out the body's identity.

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  11. I've just seen a documentary on this and it really does chill to the bone. I feel for the climbers who have to climb over the dead, and sometimes even the dying to reach the summit, but it really does seem that not only is there no hope of rescuing the climbers, but even to spend a few moments with them wasting your own oxygen will risk your own life.

    I think these climbers do live in a fatalistic world where 'If I die, I die... neither expecting help and knowing they can't give help either'. But it seemed in the documentary there was something else too.

    Inglis, one of the climbers who passed Sharpe on his ascent said in the interview that he was almost scared to reach out and touch Sharpe and make that human connection, as though doing that would somehow, in his mind, reduce the dignity of Sharpe's death.

    It seems a combination of asphyxiation and the harsh climate totally dehumanises everyone who goes up there. Everyone who enters the death zone, is from the moment they enter, dying. If they stay too long they die, if they get unlucky, they die; and I think those who criticise must be forgetting the fact that everyone up there is struggling for their own life, not just those who are so close to losing it.

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  12. Will--What was the name of the documentary you saw? I'd like to see it, too. Thanks!

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  13. Hi, I'm Grace, and I'm 13 years old. I have been training for a while now... I still am not ready to summit EVEREST! That is my life goal. Thanks for writing this article, It was very helpful to me(: (Oh and if you see me up there in a few years, wish me luck!)

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  14. none of these dangers and difficulties are exclusive to everest - all the 8000 metre peaks present similar problems. everest is in fact a much easier peak to summit nowadays than many of the others in the 8000+ club, given how many people go up and how well (relatively) the ascent routes are known. and the fatality rate is markedly lower than several other high peaks, most notably Annapurna, which has (according to wikipedia), a death rate of 40-odd % while everest's is slightly under 6%.

    climbing at high altitudes is tough, that's it.

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  15. well written, though.

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  16. What a heartless crew, 'cept for Lindsey. Hope we never meet on the highway when you're in need. Nahhh, actually I hope we do because we normal folks would show you how you treat someone in need.

    -Hu

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  17. Yes, because not stopping the car to help at a wreck is EXACTLY the same as not stopping to help someone where doing so guarantees your own death. How bout you compare to running into a burning lake of oil?? That's a little more accurate. They are talking about people at the ragged edge of what a human can survive. If you're at ground level, in top health, how far can YOU go carrying a 200lb unconscious body on your back, Captain hero? Maybe 200 yards on level ground? How far could you carry them down a cliff after running 200 miles, going 10 rounds with mike tyson, and with severe pneumonia? That's a better example of what these people would have to do.

    -Jim

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  18. We just need better technology to solve the problems of climbers. If they insist on taking these unnecessary, insane risks, and spend so much money on it, surely enterprising manufacturers will come up with gear that assures survival 100%. Some will say it takes something out of it (glory? challenge? danger?) but it's better than dying in a multicolored mountain of corpses. All I can think is that they basically need an environment suit that provides temperature regulation, breathable air, and a certain amount of armor to prevent damage from a fall. This is 2010. Anything is possible now.

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. Anonymous...why go through all of that trouble when you can just helicopter to the top, enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee, take a few pictures, and then be back poolside by dinner.

    No one is asking you to comprehend the mindset that it takes to tackle a feat like climbing Everest, but please reserve your judgment.

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  21. Let me see if I can summarize Lindsey's concerns in a shorter, and perhaps clearer, way.

    40 climbers hiked up past Mr. Sharpe, many or most of them realizing he was alive. There were large groups that could have turned around and carried Sharpe down the mountain -- he was only 1400 feet into the death zone. These were all lifelong mountaineers, on their way up, dripping in climbing gear. Inglis himself was a double amputee due to a mountaineering accident, clearly benefiting from the technology and the help of fellow climbers.

    By sledge, by stretcher, by sling -- they had a fighting chance, more than a fighting chance, since they were not yet exhausted, not yet in great danger like Mr. Sharpe. Mr. Sharpe might have died on the way down. Maybe he would have made it.

    But men would have walked away from that mountain with their integrity intact, and passed the test of human character. They would be welcomed as heroes, regardless of Mr. Sharpe's survival, and they would have the opportunity to climb again.

    Instead, they have pictures of themselves at the summit. I hope they enjoy telling the story to their friends. I wonder if they leave anything out?

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  22. Hat's off to the people who risk it, trying to climb to the top. Although I don't understand why would they do that now, but it must give them an immense pleasure.

    Reminds me of the movie: into the wild. :)

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  23. Wrong... It is entirely possible to recover the majority of these bodies, it is just about money and government intrusion. There is a lot of pushback on allowing any kind of additional construction for support services, or use of any kind of vehicles up there.

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  24. No only would I have stopped my trip short of the summit to help that person, even if he was going to die I would tie him onto my line and pull him back down the mountain immediately.

    You can justify it any way you have to for you to sleep at night, but an "adventure" is worthless compared to even a 1% chance of saving someone's parent, or someone's kid.

    Who am I to judge them? I'm not the one you need to worry about, and the one you should worry about doesn't judge you on adventure points.

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  25. You can't fly a helicopter that high a I don't think. If there's not enough air for you to breath then there won't be enough to keep a huge machine alift.

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  26. Lindsey is a bit of a stupid bitch, so it's understandable she has no fucking clue what she's talking about. Chicks are so fucking dumb it's comical. This is why they should never be allowed to vote in the first place.

    To every man that summits, you sirs have BALLS.

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  27. Well I'm a chick and I'm not dumb. I trekked to Everest Basecamp last October and it was the most amazing experience of my life. I won't climb the mountain though...which brings me to my point...
    ANY PERSON WITH MONEY can climb Everest no matter WHAT their experience!! That mountain is LITTERED with people that SHOULD NOT be there.
    I don't want to disrespect the late David Sharp but he was climbing ALONE AFTER THE TURN AROUND TIME. Thats irresponsible. Or he was experiencing high altitude sickness and not thinking.
    Non-climbers do NOT UNDERSTAND the ethics and morals of high-altitude mountaineering. You can't just pick up a person and drag them down the tallest mountain in the world--you're "functioning" at an altitude where the body is deteriorating by the minute. Other climbers put their own lives in danger.
    I know a Sherpa from Russell Brice's team tried to help Sharp down, but he wouldn't get up. At that high altitude, a person has to operate on some of their OWN power to get down. Too many Sherpas die up there saving people and fixing the ropes for teams that go to climb Everest.
    Here is the deal: irresponsible climbers put others at risk. You HAVE to know the risks involved in climbing EVEREST...you can die very easily. Also...it is VERY difficult to bring a body down at the altitude Sharp was at. That's carrying literal dead weight down from the death zone.
    Read INTO THIN AIR. Krakouer will never do a climb like that again due to the horror he endured on that mountain. But that's the reality of high-altitude mountaineering. You HAVE to educate yourself and KNOW what's involved.
    This is a sad, tragic situation. My heart goes out to the family of David. But mountaineering is a deadly sport.
    I don't judge the climbers that had to leave him, because they had to save themselves. It was not about summiting or not summiting...it was life and death. Plain and simple.

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  28. Give Lindsey a break she lives in a Marshmallow world. She obviously hasn't read about sailors that have had to lock their mates in an air tight compartment and watch them drown so the rest of the ship will survive, or miners that don't jump into an exploding mine, or telephone workers that don't jump into a manhole to save the guys dying, or soldiers that have to leave the wounded to attend for themselves in order to contine the fight. Or how about the mothers that have killed their babies so the enemy won't hear them crying? It's tough out there Lindsey... good luck.

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  29. Anonymous> A helicopter has been landed on Everest- at about 2x the maximum service altitude of the Eurocopter model that was employed.

    http://www.greatoutdoors.com/published/helicopter-on-everest-makes-history

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  30. The person in the last photo is Peter Boardman.

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  31. i wanted to refrain from commenting but a lot of people above seem to have this romantic notion that the other climbers could/should try to do something about all their dead comrades up there, with the implied judgement that these climbers are less than decent human beings for leaving those bodies behind.

    while i applaud the sentiment, and in normal society this really is the only decent course of action to take. however, i have to acknowledge that these people are the experts and if they think it is simply too difficult, then it probably is.

    rather than try to argue hypothetical scenarios on how rescue or recovery may be possible, i'll just quote from the article: "...A Nepalese police inspector and a Sherpa who tried to recover Hannelore's body in 1984 both fell to their deaths."

    if that doesn't illustrate the reality up there, then nothing will.

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  32. If a group was on its way down and was racing the minutes to get to a safe altitude, then I agree that stopping to help may not be an option. However, if said group was on their way UP, then it seems there might be considerably more time to enact some joint rescue effort. I'm not an expert. That's as much of a question as an observation. I'm interested to hear any responses.

    That said, MAX and MR-overly-cinematic-MARSHMALLOW boys' posts should be deleted by the author of this blog. MAX especially is a juvenile troll and his post diminishes the quality of an otherwise good story. Don't be afraid to exercise a little editorial judgement.

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  33. Max, you're a bigot, which means you're as dumb as they come. It doesn't take actual balls to climb: there are some women who can climb, and some men who can't.

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  34. Fascinating and very informative article!

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  35. I understand that people will evaluate risks to save someone or not at the moment the problem occurs, and I understand that they will make choices.

    What i don't understand is to plan to go there while walking over dead bodies. I cannot be close to such state of mind.

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  36. They aren't walking past someone else - they are slowly choking to death and any misstep could cause their own death. Don't judge until you've been in their shoes.

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  37. Y'all got trolled. By a artist.

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  38. Lindsey, Do not forget that in the Death Zone people don't think straight. People I know who attempted to climb the Everest told me it is like trying to think meanwhile somebody choking you. All your mental ability is spent trying to keep yourself alive. There are plenty of stories from extreme conditions (let it be famine, cold, shipwreck etc.) when people could only take care of themselves and walking by dead or dieing people. (Even mothers leaving there child behind, or killing them)
    Quite simply the Everest is a cruel place. You should not go there unless you are prepared that you might die.

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  39. @"helicopter has been landed on Everest"

    Thats a 2005 news. All the stories about the last century. Today they have got cellphone coverage up there as well.

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  40. To compare not helping dying climbers to closing a vessel door to save a ship is not nearly the same thing. Those that choose to climb Everest made the choice to do so, where those dying on a sinking ship, or in many other examples above, did not. I think this entire discussion is around a group of people that for some reason most can fathom, feel better about themselves for making this useless climb.

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  41. Amazing article, thanks for opening my eyes to a subject I knew little about.

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  42. the thing is, if youre planning on climbing mt everest, hopefully youve done your research, you will know before you buy your plane ticket that there are 100s of dead bodies litter across the landscape.

    they are there for a reason, shit gets tough out there. those people couldnt make it down on their own, you expect someone thats probably also near death to carry/pull/drag 200+lbs down a MOUNTAIN, this isnt just a big hill you walk up

    not to mention if they are still alive, you think its going to be easier to help? that person wants to finish their climb or die trying. you wont be able to get him to cooperate

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  43. Great article, so well structured....unlike the following debate. Thanks :)

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  44. In survival mode we all function differently. Just see the story behind "Alive" (and interviews with the survivors).

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  45. If I was gonna die up there I'd a least want some quality music to see me through: http://vainzine2.blogspot.com/2010/11/stream-greg-wilson-dj-mixes-by.html

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  46. I think as already mentioned the group of 40 could have tried their best to save this guys life. a group of *40* ...surely this isn't putting your own life in such critical danger when you have 39 others to help share the 'burden' of saving this poor guys life. The chances of him surviving I'm sure were pretty slim, but to save him, or to even attempt to save him would make them bigger heroes in my eyes than for them to reach the summit. I can't help but think them unbelievably selfish..just out for their own glory at the expense of this poor guy...

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  47. Yeah, Lindsey! I think it is also selfish of lifeguards to not go after every drowning person with reckless abandon. Did you know that lifeguards actually weigh whether or not it is safe to rescue someone before just swimming out there? I think it is heartless. If every able body has to drown trying to save a poor soul in a riptide, then so be it, that's what I say!

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  48. WYKOP KURWA !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  49. There is a harsh fact you are taught when learning to rescue: that when someone is in danger and you choose not to take the risk of intervening, or achieve nothing when you do because of avoiding risks to yourself, then that person is no worse off than they were in the first place.

    In the end it is down to the judgement of those who are there at the time and have to make the decision, however cruel that may seem. Most of us will never have to make that decision, or live with the consequences.

    There are many examples of people's callous uncaring behaviour towards those in needin environments where the risk is very low - someone dying on a high street as people hurry by. They have afr less excuse than those in a lethal environment such as Everest

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  50. It's called the Dead Zone for a reason. While there you teeter on the brink at all times. Even the decision to carry and extra oxygen bottle could be fatal. Can you get the dying climber down? Or will you waste the energy you require to survive only to move him 100 meters before one/both of you die? 200 M? 400M?
    You're on the mountain not home on your PC? Decide now, tick tock.

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  51. Wow, truly incredible images. Amazing.

    www.privacy-resources.edu.tc

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  52. Yeah, people aren't going to stop and help... what and ruin their OWN change of reaching the summit. Come on, it's a dog eat dog world, people. And somehow climbing Everest makes one an incredible person, forget helping a fellow human being. I mean, cummon, get your priorities straight, people! Helping others? pffftt, overrated. (obviously dripping with sarcasm)...

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  53. Saving someone in those conditions is certain death. You always have to evaluate your priorities, save yourself before you save others, unfortunately in this situation saving yourself means leaving the dying behind.

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  54. Thank you Sarah. You put it perfectly. Anyone who is not a climber cannot understand and should never judge what we do.

    Max, ure a moron. Lindsey, ure a bigger one. I hope they leave the boddies up there as a reminder of our humanity and our fight to the top. I hope to see them when I get there

    -A chick who climbs

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  55. I can't even imagine why someone would want to risk their lives like this, I understand the accomplishment, but I would be just as fulfilled by completing a marathon or iron man, at least you're probably not going to die doing it.

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  56. http://www.tagzania-blog.com/en/2008/06/09/death-and-heroism-in-the-annapurna/

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  57. Juan ‘Juanito’ Oiarzabal holds the world record in 8000ers summits (21 in total) and has experienced many rescues on very high altitude. He told ExplorersWeb about Everest, “That mountain turned into a circus years ago, and it's getting worse – I don’t have the slightest interest in going back there, ever. Moreover, I actually try to avoid reading on what’s going on there – I simply don’t care anymore.” And about David Sharp, “It’s a classic [on Everest] - someone is in trouble, and people pass by, not even taking a quick look at him.”

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  58. remind me never to climb a mountain

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  59. I was one of the 40 who sat next to David. He was already at peace.

    BTW, we can only carry ourselves and our gear up and down the mountain. There is no chance rescuing anyone else. We don't carry stretchers, even if we did, we don't have enough room to carry him down. Everest is not a park. One misstep and you drag the whole team down. Don't be foolish.

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  60. you may want to check your comment as to brian blesseds "botched attempt" my understanding is that he abandoned his attempt to rescue a fellow climber

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  61. Wow that is just creepy right there.

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  62. climbing is so EXXXXXXXXXTREEEME

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  63. Max. You are an ignorant bastard. The fact that people with your mentality live in this world is the reason why there is so much hatred. And while you sit there and BITCH , because that is in fact what you are doing, It is FACT that plenty of women have climbed way more mountains than your stupid ignorant self. =D

    but hey do as a favor and climb everest if you're so manly man, and stay in the death zone, preferably. ^_~

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  64. These climbers are all idiots. You might as well play Russian Roulette. There are plenty of ways to challenge or thrill yourself without taking grave chances with your life.

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  65. Anyone commenting about people being heartless and callous couldn't be more ignorant to the conditions up there.

    Helping someone on the side of the highway that is in need isn't the same; you wouldn't stop then, either, if you were driving to the hospital in a life-or-death situation.

    Don't be stupid.

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  66. I'd be interested in repubbing this on Gizmodo, if you'd be willing. I'd have sent an email, but I can't seem to find any contact information. I'd love to hear from you! joel@gizmodo.com

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  67. don't call the climbers idiots until you hav experienced mountaineering yourself. There is no feeling quite like it. It is a complete escape from society as we know it. You will know yourself better than you ever have before and find a new relationship with your surrounding world. I doubt I will ever climb Everest-I dot have the experience as I have only gone to 18,800 feet and have aspirations that outweigh devoting a year of my life to training for Everest...but I know why they climb.

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  68. I may have missed it, but not once did I read an articulation of the fact that each climber is completely aware of the risks and mortality rates for attempted ascents on Everest. Whether you agree with someones decision to take a 1 in 10 chance with their life and go head to head with Mother Nature or not, each man and woman who starts up that mountain knows they may never come back, and if asked honestly, I bet would never expect anyone to risk their life to save them.

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  69. the article referenced by Mascarah is interesting, according to Oiarzabal elite climbers do help each other.

    http://www.explorersweb.com/everest_k2/news.php?id=2105

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  70. I think this has to do with the amount of relatively "inexperienced" climbers trying the 8k+. It used to be that seasoned pros were the only ones that made the climb. Now it's anyone with $10,000 and the inclination.

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  71. I highly recommend anyone that enjoyed this article to read, "Climbing - Philosophy for Everyone: Because It's There"
    Edited by Stephen E. Shmid

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/climbing/2010/08/book_review_climbing_-_philoso.html

    It is a collection of essays that approach rock climbing and mountaineering through the perspective of different philosophy theories.
    Some of the essay approach and try to explain many of the themes present in this blog and the comments.

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  72. I had a friend who died on K2 in 2008 attempting to help stranded climbers who would not have survived anyway. He went back to help them and died in the process. He was 32. I wish he had kept his eyes on his own tenuous survival. He'd still be here today doing a lot of good for this world.

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  73. Also, if you're on the ascent and you see a dying climber, you have zero excuse for at least attempting to try and help them. It's greedy motherfucking guides that take their climbers on this Everest whirlwind tour with 40+ people etc that leave people behind because they're overburdened and underfunded. Pro climbers don't leave people behind on the ascent.

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  74. God bless you for being my eyes on so many occasions. Seeing the remains of the 38 high camp is incredible. I have been searching for some of the old films made by Noel and others (like Epic of Everest, and Tragedy on Everest) and I cant find them anywhere except the occasional auction. Hasnt someone put these films on DVD yet, for us normal folk to enjoy?

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  75. I think if there is one benefit to the chilling aspect of this article its that it should dissuade any people who think climbing Everest will be another simple achievement to tick off their "to do before I die" list.

    You want to climb mountains?? Fine...you put your life very much in your own hands.

    One thing that I do find puzzling is that with all the technological advances surely there are ways to make it easier for humans to be brought down by alternative means and not be left to die a pitiful death???

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  76. looks like there's still some meat on that last one.

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  77. Incredibly well written and superbly documented! Loved it at a periodistic point of view.

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  78. Chicks are dumb? Then I guess your mommy is a stupid hoe then, Max. What kind of MAN calls a woman a chick or bitch? An uneduated piece of crap w/ a small dick perhaps? Whoever can walk by a dying human being is also a piece of filthy flie infested crap :)

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  79. oh very sad I can't believe May God provide peace to the victims. Hats of to their spirit of adventure.
    Mahesh Bhatt

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  80. It's sad that the climbers get to the point where they have to disregard all other lives for the sake of their own, but it is a reality. I wouldn't attempt to judge those who pass by the dead and the dieing until I have attempted it myself. Somehow I doubt I would even attempt to judge them in those circumstances. Anyone judging them without having to live through those conditions should be ashamed of themselves.

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  81. “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” - Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919

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  82. I'm going to believe juan over anyone. He doesn't agree with leaving people to die for a summit attempt. I think all the other climbers that try and justify it by saying they are risking their lives by helping don't get it. They have this notion that its the logical thing to do, and as long as they force themselves to believe it, they will save their minds. No, it is not the right thing to do. I wont pretend to know the details of every event, and pass judgment. but I do hope this notion that summit > human life ends.

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  83. @ shoelessdb ... Really people on a sinking ship didn't choose to be there? Sooo when you take a cruse it isn't by choice you are forced? And what about navy sailors the def chose to be there and are in the highest risk to have to close the door on a sinking ship. I have some advice for you 1:stop 2:think 3:then speak

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  84. I guess the world is really safe, now with so many heroes in these comments! No one freezing to death on a sidewalk from lack of shelter; nobody going hungry, because these saints will eat the bare minimum and share their food until we're all fed. Ah, wait--

    Please step off your pedestals and take a look at your empty judgmentalism...

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  85. This was a great article, thank you!

    In response to those who feel other climbers should attempt to save a dying person; I think those people have yet to experience their core survival instinct. We humans tend to think we've evolved beyond animal behavior but we haven't, it's just masked by our "cushy" world and, for many people, ignorance about how cruel the world really is and can be.

    There are many people that feel not attempting to save a life is inexcusable, but, given the right situation, they would most likely do the same thing. Fear and survival instincts override emotion and logic, especially when critical thinking capabilities are limited in environments like Everest.

    Some of these climbers are the world's best and to challenge their decisions is to say you know better than they do without the same experience and expertise—that's just silly.

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  86. i have little sympathy for someone who clearly knows the risks of something they are only doing for mere ego purposes, that ends up dying due to such conditions.

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  87. Is this the same kind of environment and decisions that will be made as man explores Mars? That is a different kind of death zone and yet psychologically there are parallels that NASA should look at.

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  88. I believe the point is... everyone assumes the risk of dying. If someone gives up, that is a decision they've made. It is all but impossible to help someone at that point, and at this juncture... you really are your own island.

    That is the allure of climbing Everest.

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  89. Everybody has his own reasons for doing anything. The problem, here, is that some of us under estimate the power of nature. Once we step outside our confort zone, we are the weakest creature on earth.

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  90. Personal Opinion: I agree that wanting to climb a mountain such as Everset to prove somethin to urself is as "crazy" as gettin dropped off 50 miles off shore only to swim back. Ya mite not make it. But on the other hand, if I made that decision to do so, its simply that; my decision. Although i agree that it would be difficult to adandon ANYONE in time of need, i wouldnt stop to help a car crash victim if me, myself was on the way to the hospital for a gunshot wound or my wife giving birth. it is woven into nature, not just human nature, the need to protect ur own, regardless. Circumstances varry. My philosophy: If you dont want to deal with adversity and hardships on a day to day basis, better stay in bed - permanently. in short, my hat goes off to all the people, both alive and dead who beleived in somethin so much that they would put their lives on the line for no reward, other than self gratification. Go Join the Marines. at least they risk their lives for a purpose.

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  91. Seems to me that those needing to separate themselves from society have a pre-determined abandon of humanity, reinforced by their decisions to overlook fellow climbers in distress. People dedicated to humanity aren't apt to require themselve to remove their concerns from a humane environment. They not only make the choice to die trying but to let others die in their presence. It's an individual philosophy. I'd dare anyone experienced on the dead zone to explain this is incorrect analysis. As for NASA, I would not trust a government to be different than that when seeking outposts on other planets. As for David Sharp, it is probably true that he was at peace as predefined by his predicament.

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  92. Taking such risks for no good reason - would that these people would spend their efforts on something important, like fighting climate change, rather than pointless sport.

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  93. The most striking thing about the comments here is how out of touch with reality they are. For everyone who is claiming "If I were there I'd save them" consider this: there are millions of people in the world dying right now that YOU could help if you weren't at home posting on this forum. And yet you sit back and let it happen. Stepping out of your comfort zone and saving one of those people would be far easier and far less risky for you than saving Sharpe would ahve been for the 40 that passed by -- the ones you are claiming have lost their humanity.

    Take a look in the mirror and understand the self-serving bias.

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  94. I am not a mountaineer. I have no experience with such harsh conditions. Therefore, I recognize that my opinion regarding the choice to attempt a rescue versus continuing to the summit is virtually worthless. However, as mentioned in an article posted earlier, some of the older/more experienced climbers (such as Sir Edmund Hillary and Juan Oiarzabal) were highly critical of what Everest has become.

    Juan Oiarzbel - "In my opinion, solidarity doesn't exist on Everest. And the reason is, that most of the climbers attempting that mountain are not experienced Himalaya mountaineers," he said. "I wouldn't even consider many of them climbers. Too often people go to Everest without knowing what it is like above 8000m. They pay huge amounts of money and they don't pay for a climb, but for a summit. Thus, reaching the summit becomes their first and only priority. In order to get the summit, they will use all the resources they can afford: Sherpas, bottled O2, camps and ropes previously fixed, etc… Up there, everybody focus on their own progress only, selfishly pursuing their goal." (http://www.explorersweb.com/everest_k2/news.php?id=2105)

    Sir Edmund Hillary - "I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mt Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top. They don't give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress and it doesn't impress me at all that they leave someone lying under a rock to die." (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10383276)

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  95. You might find this an interesting program - http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/broadband/tx/everest/

    I found part 1 here - http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/educational/watch/v14240597G2b4KQmR

    and part 2 here - http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/educational/watch/v14240595A9skwp4T

    I'm not sure what the quality is like and it looks like you might need to install something, I don't know. You can probably find it elsewhere to download or something but it's well worth it, it's very interesting.

    Matt

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  96. Less important than who should have tried to save Sharp is the question of what the hell they're doing up there in the first place. Everest has become a playground/junkyard for anyone with the money to buy their way to the top. Many aren't "lifelong mountaineers", they're weekend warriors with too much cash and way too little experience. They're "climbing" fixed rope paths. Hard as hell on the body, exhausting, difficult, but mountaineering, it's not. And in the meantime they're endangering the lives of everyone else on the mountain.

    The answer, of course, is a system that limits climbing permits to only those with verified climbing credentials, that is, experience on one of the non-tourist destination mountains. This will never happen; there's too much money to be made both by the governments issuing the permits and the guides who make their living shepherding idiots to the top.

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  97. Have you guys ever seen have many people are dead in a car accidents each year? compare to that this is nothing. If i ever decided to climb that mountain i would ask people not to touch my body.

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  98. I guess my life sitting here in a cubicle doesn't seem so grim now.

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  99. Gripping piece and topic. Gotta agree with Anon above: there are millions we all can help. And judging other people's motivations by saying it's all about ego is simply a way of running from confronting that experience yourself.

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  100. Look again at the guy with with face frost burned OFF and remember, that's a guy who LIVED. It's pretty naive and wrong to pass judgment from comfy offices and homes.

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  101. Arlene Blum's book "Anapurna, A Woman's Place" conveys the experience from the decision of "ordinary" people to make the climb, to the contemplation of possible death every time they cross an ice field, to the loss of teammates. Those of us who do not climb probably cannot comprehend it. It's the story of the first women's team on Anapurna. The fact that they were women with families makes it all the more disquieting. At least read it and try to understand their experience -- including the decision to take the risks that they fully appreciated -- before you apply your armchair ethics or pew-sitter morality.
    --Lach

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  102. I understood that Inglis was climbing WITH oxygen (as were many others who passed Sharp that day) and passed him on the ascent, not the descent. Inglis could easily and safely have helped Sharp, but he would have had to sacrifice his chance to climb Everest. As a Kiwi (like Inglis) I am ashamed that personal achievement in mountaineering has come to be valued over acknowledging a shared humanity.

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  103. The most striking thing about the comments here is how out of touch with reality they are. For everyone who is claiming "If I were there I'd save them" consider this: there are millions of people in the world dying right now that YOU could help if you weren't at home posting on this forum. And yet you sit back and let it happen. Stepping out of your comfort zone and saving one of those people would be far easier and far less risky for you than saving Sharpe would have been for the 40 that passed by -- the ones you are claiming have lost their humanity.

    Take a look in the mirror and understand the self-serving bias.


    WELL SAID!

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  104. I agree with Lindsey.
    Also I have to say to the guy who said: "...there are millions of people in the world dying right now that YOU could help if you weren't at home posting on this forum. And yet you sit back and let it happen..."
    that, there is a difference here: Those who die in Everest, die in front of the climbers. It is their responsibility to help them. But it is different with somebody's death in another country or ... (different in the means of distance, not ethically)
    So, you are making a mistake here.

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  105. Last photo is of Hannelore Schmatz

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  106. AWESOME, AND YOUR ALL RIGHT IN WHAT YOUR SAYING, EACH TO THEY'RE OWN!

    BLESS THE ONES STILL THERE, AT LEAST THEY DIES TRYING TO ACHIEVE SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL IN THEY'RE LIFE..
    NO REGRETS AND ALL THAT.

    PEACE

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  107. I think it's a very interesting ethical dilemma to be up there, and seeing somebody dying without being able to help. Nowhere else outside of philosophy is a situation ever so clear-cut, so simple: If you help, you die as well. You can try - but you will die yourself, with almost 100% certainty. It's unique in that you are there, and you have time to reflect on it which forces a conscious decision to let somebody else die.

    In my opinion, everybody who climbs mount everest is crazy. That environment is not made for humans, and humans are not made for it. So you are risking your life just to be able to say you did it - just to satisfy your ego, to "prove" you're .... something?! In the old days, it did prove you were a crazy adventurer, in the new days where you can buy your ascent it still does, only to a lesser extent. But what's the point in either endeavor? I love the mountains, I grew up mountaineering - I love climbing the deserted 4000s in the US. Would love to go in the Himalayas some day - but only where it's safe.

    I don't want to keep anyone from going, by the way - it's your life, your priorities, and just as I personally would absolutely not go up there, it's your choice to do so.

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  108. A frail pensioner who collapsed in a busy street almost died of hypothermia after he was ignored by passers-by for nearly five hours.

    Great-grandfather Brian Courtney, 77, was walking to his doctor’s surgery when he fell unconscious on the pavement.

    Hundreds of pedestrians and motorists are believed to have hurried past him without offering help until someone finally dialled 999 at 12.40pm.

    When paramedics arrived minutes later Mr Courtney’s body temperature had apparently fallen to 26C and he was on the brink of death.

    The retired gardener, who suffers from a kidney condition, was rushed to intensive care where doctors were amazed he had survived the ordeal in central Salisbury, Wiltshire.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1335011/Collapsed-pensioner-brink-death-ignored-people-passing-5-hours.html

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  109. >Asking people to give up a pursuit simply because someone else died or will die in that same pursuit would be to take away people's humanity.

    That is one of the dumbest, most inhumane things I've ever seen in text. Oxymoronic as well. Humanity isn't to walk over the bodies of the dead and dying to achieve a goal. Especially a goal which is to get to the top of a huge chunk of rocks. It's to be HUMAN. You cannot retain your humanity while not even attempting to help your fellow man.

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  110. The problem with this discussion is, the way I see it, the opposing factions have vastly different views on what the dying climbers are.

    For the more cynical commenters (mountaineers), they are fallen heroes who would summit or die trying, and understood the risk fully. This, however, contradicts the claim that the mountain is littered with inexperienced climbers. These guys wouldn't really understand the risk, and it's a safe bet that plenty of those dying were regretting their decision.

    The more idealistic ("Marshmallow") commenters think they are helpless beings who would only wish to return home safely. This ignores many climbers whose only wish when all (realistic) hope is lost is to die there with dignity. A comment above reminded us that even an attempt to recover the body may result in the deaths of the officials, which is a very good point to illustrate the harshness of the environment.

    I still find the cheap machismo rather tiring and childish despite the obvious attempts to make it otherwise (dog eat dog world, "you have no clue", "what have you done to feed those in need", etc.), but I can't really judge people so quickly either (by, say, taking their whole endeavour as meaningless).

    I suppose the key here lies in those lay dying: if they really are "aware of the risks" it would even be an insult to try to rescue them. If, however, they are a parent who regretted their decision, waving their hand at the passing crowd in vain, who then shrugged and justified their ignorance by another dog eat dog world speech, that does seem to me to be very callous. No amount of mental gymnastics can get around that.

    Juanito's comments were surprising, however, since by reading the comments, non-climbers like me would expect him to approve the abandonment of the dying. I think I'll side with him; that climbers will abandon one another, it's here to stay, it's the realistic option, but it's still not right.

    I would approve bitterly to sailors sacrificing their own to save lives, but those disasters at sea are beyond their powers. Mountaineering is a mere hobby (an expensive hobby at that) despite all the talks about 'finding yourself' and all similar verbiage (all hobbyists talk like that about their respective passion anyway). So it does have more of a moral dissonance. You can't compare them.

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  111. @Sarah "It was not about summiting or not summiting"

    Yes, it was. I don't know if you've read accounts of that situation, but if you had you'd know that they had a party of 18 -- plenty of rope, poles, ladders, people and equipment to wrap up one man and build a stretcher for 800 vertical feet descent to base camp.

    Inglis himself admits that they saw Sharp on the way up and knew he was alive. He also claims that he radioed base camp and they told him Sharp was done for and they should move on.

    Russell Brice, manning the radio, recorded no such call and instead says he would have told them to rescue Sharp, and was horrified when they told him that they saw Sharp alive on the way up.

    The Sherpas in question were only allowed to assist Sharp on the way down, 20 hours later when Sharp was barely alive and it really was too late.

    Inglis later backed out on his claim that he got radio orders to move forward and attributed his memory of calling base camp to "hypoxia".

    Edmund Hillary called Inglis and his party "pathetic".

    These guys weren't delivering needed medicine to orphans, or rushing to the scene of a fire. They were engaging in a sport for pleasure. I'm not saying that recovering Sharp would have been without risk. Perhaps it would have been more risky than making the summit and passing Sharp on the way down. But accepting calculated risk is what makes people into heroes.

    Several people have mentioned that Sharp knew the risks, and took the risks. I agree with this, and it may reflect poorly on Sharp, god rest his soul etc. But the men who climbed past him chose to define their own character with their own actions. Sharp didn't bring shame on them; they embraced their own disgrace.

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  112. @Rick-David Sharp was not 800 feet from BaseCamp. He was up very, very high. It's not "easy" to make a sled or whatever to get him down. People can hardly function on their own.
    At the same time, the effort put in to get to the summit could have been turned around to save David. I have heard of stories where summit attempts have been abandoned due to climbers in need.
    BUT...we were not there. Who knows what really happened and who is telling the truth.
    Good point.

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  113. Here is an article which includes comments from the late Sir Hillary on the death of Sharp. I assume all of the you-don't-know-what-it's-like-up-there posters will accept that Hillary knows a thing or two about what it's like up there.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10383276

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  114. I'm pretty sure that Sharpe knew the risks of climbing Everest. It is evident because there is no account of him reaching out and begging for help. He just sat there, waiting to die. He knew that this would happen, if he was presented with the situation. I'm almost certain that anyone interested in climbing Everest is told at some point "Look, if you are in the Death Zone, about to die, DON'T EXPECT ANYONE TO HELP YOU. If you cannot handle this, THEN DO NOT CLIMB EVEREST!" They know the risks that are involved, and if they can't accept them, then they do not need to be up there in the first place.

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  115. it takes an minimum of 16 lucid people to successfully complete a evacuation by walking one injured person out. and this is on your local hiking trail in perfect conditions, healthy supply of food, water, a litter and tons of other gear. Everest you are dealing with AMS, cerebral edema, pulmonary edema, and a whole host of there things. so it is impossible to risk the lives of 16 people to save one person, however, there have been instances of a few saves on the mountain. for those wondering i am a certified individual and have done some SAR work.

    i would encourage you to read "into thin air" by jon krakauer. it is an account of the 1996 Everest disaster.

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  116. No one has mentioned this yet, but to all the people who are saying *40 people! and no-one helped!*, you need a better understanding of social psychology:

    "The bystander effect or Genovese syndrome is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases where individuals do not offer help in an emergency situation when other people are present. The probability of help has in the past been thought to be inversely related to the number of bystanders; in other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help"

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  117. As an emergency responder I have been trained to, number one, make sure that the scene is safe for me, the responder. If I become disabled helping someone then I make the problem much more difficult and potentially put other rescuers at greater risk. Every licensed first responder you meet on the street knows and acts on this. Every call we have is by definition a hazardous or potentially hazardous situation and, like climbing Everest, brutal calculations must be occasionally be made.

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  118. I was on a climbing trip to an 8000m peak a few years back. No-one died that season, but 2 nearly did. They nearly died for stupid reasons. One wanted to para-glide from the summit. He lied to his team and said he was descending from camp 3 to camp 2 (weather was deteriorating), then in the morning tried to launch and went straight into a crevasse (at 7500m). One of my party was present. It took about 5 people, from other teams (because his own people thought he was at a lower camp), at great personal risk, to get him out (it took about 4 hours). Those 5 people all had to go back to base camp to recover from the exertion.
    He was Darwin award material and everybody at base camp hated him for what he had done. Another ignored his teams agreed upon turn around time and continued to the summit and by chance was able to find a tent in the dark on the way back down. If either of those two had died, I would not have shed a tear. They would have killed themselves. When the foolishness of others endangers your own well prepared companions, one can become quite heartless.

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  119. I think it's a ridiculous, pointless pursuit. Proves nothing more than the human race willing stupidness and stubbornness. I don't feel the least bit sorry or any of those folks ESPECIALLY those so callous to accomplish a zero-impact to anything task over compassion. Whatever weeds the herd is fine with me.

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  120. Giving the David Sharpe case a label as a psychological phenomenon does not make it any less disturbing...

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  121. absolutely magnificently written. in moral agreeing or not, everyone has to admit, this is an utterly gripping piece.

    ps: climate change is not an issue that we humans can change, it is a weather pattern, part of a cycle, a phenomenon so much bigger and more significant than us humans. don't fool yourself, you are not the cause nor are you the solution, you are (like me, i know) just a spec in this universe, it is spitting us out because we taste bad, not because we are threatening it! but yeah, every bit of doing good helps, so if your excuse to do good is so-called climate change, for sure go ahead! just don't expect astronomical results!

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  122. read this from the wiki page of david sharp..

    By contrast, on 26 May Australian climber Lincoln Hall was found alive after having been declared dead the day before. He was found by a party of four climbers (Dan Mazur, Andrew Brash, Myles Osborne and Jangbu Sherpa) who, giving up their own summit attempt, stayed with Hall and descended with him and a party of 11 Sherpas sent up to carry him down. Hall later recovered fully.

    Sir Edmund Hillary was highly critical of the decision not to try to rescue Sharp, saying that leaving other climbers to die is unacceptable, and the desire to get to the summit has become all-important. He also said, "I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top. It was wrong if there was a man suffering altitude problems and was huddled under a rock, just to lift your hat, say good morning and pass on by". He also told the New Zealand Herald that he was horrified by the callous attitude of today’s climbers. "They don’t give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress and it doesn’t impress me at all that they leave someone lying under a rock to die" and that, "I think that their priority was to get to the top and the welfare of one of the... of a member of an expedition was very secondary." [3] Hillary also called Mark Inglis "crazy" [5].

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sharp_%28mountaineer%29

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  123. How about a zip line with switchbacks?

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  124. An absolutely fascinating article - kept me gripped to the end.

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  125. I don't doubt that the majority of people who passed Sharpe that day could not have done anything about it. But if, as Rick suggests, there was a large group who would have had at least a chance of getting him down, but chose the summit instead then I'd agree that that is pretty awful.

    I don't believe that it's an accepted attitude in mountaineering that you abandon someone who's made mistakes, unless there really isn't any chance(or the risks are too great) to save them. I've heard countless stories of parties having turned back from their goal for such reasons.

    As I said, many who passed Sharpe may have quickly worked out whether they really could have helped him, and came out with the answer that they could not.

    Would it have been impossible for anyone to get Sharpe off the mountain? I don't know. But one thing I haven't seen people ask in these comments is: there is now a plan to bring 3000kg and 5 bodies down from the mountain. How is that being achieved? Will they be equipped that differently to the party of 18 that apparently passed by Sharpe?

    The most damning part of Rick's post to me is the comments from Brice and Hillary. Two men who I'm sure understand the nature of climbing Everest, and the difficult decisions that must sometimes be made.

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  126. I've only been up 14,000 peaks but I can clearly understand the situation of not being able to help. At that altitude you are at the mercy of time and your oxygen supply. You can barely move one step at a time. Stopping to rest might lead you to passing out and then a most assured place amongst the frozen dead.

    This is much like war, war with yourself and the elements. It is impossible to judge someone until you've been in the same war. Compassion falls to the wayside when you are barely conscious and filled with the fear of death so walking past someone is mandatory not a choice.

    Please take a moment to think before judging these people so harshly. I don't support it but I'm also about freedom. If they want to climb they know the risks and so does everyone else on the mountain.

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  127. Also, just noticed the wikipedia page on David Sharpe, which makes for interesting reading:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sharp_%28mountaineer%29

    It seems clear that he made mistakes and the ultimate responsibility of course lies with himself.

    It also states that some smaller parties did try and help him - "...Dawa from Arun Treks also gave oxygen to David and tried to help him move, repeatedly, for perhaps an hour. But he could not get David to stand alone or even stand resting on his shoulders, and crying, Dawa had to leave him too. Even with two Sherpas it was not going to be possible to get David down the tricky sections below..." - so it's not like he was completely ignored.

    However the general impression is that many have been critical of Inglis' party, who encountered Sharpe both on the ascent and descent(by the descent it was obviously too late to save him). I don't know, perhaps it was more an error of judgement rather than callousness by that party. Maybe they really did think Sharpe was dead either way.

    However, just a week later Lincoln Hall was saved in similar circumstances after being pronounced dead.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Hall_%28climber%29

    The group who saved him abandoned their summit attempt - "The summit is still there and we can go back. Lincoln only has one life."

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  128. "Please take a moment to think before judging these people so harshly."

    Well yeah, glad I've never been put in that position.

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  129. I don't want to pretend to understand more than I do about this... however, I was always under the impression that those individuals who undertake great challenges such as climbing everest or walking to the poles do so in order to push their body to the absolute extreme, and fully understand that they might die trying. They have made the decision to 'defeat' or be defeated by the mountain.
    Sharp was defeated, it was his third attempt, and the mountain claimed him... He had supposedly come to terms with this, and may even have wanted to die his 'noble' death on the mountain.
    Like I said, I don't know a lot about this kind of thing, but this article was brilliantly written and I just thought i'd try and shed my viewpoint on the debate...

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  130. There is another picture of "Green Boot's Cave"
    and it appears that the body is no longer there.
    http://www.everestnews.com/everest2006/sharp06012006.htm

    Does anyone have an update on if they have removed the body. Was David Sharp's body ever recovered?

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  131. That article also mentions that there is video footage of the encounter / recovery attempt with David Sharp. I wonder if it will ever be releasd...

    http://www.everestnews.com/everest2006/sharp06012006.htm

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  132. FANTASTIC article and incredible pictures, thank you!

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  133. I think it is a far greater achievement to contribute to saving someone's life than reaching the summit of any mountain, I have no respect for anyone wouldn't even attempt to help someone in trouble, it takes a braver person to risk their own life to help others than it does to climb a mountain. I think that most people if they found themselves in trouble would like to think others would at least try to help them and not just pass by.

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  134. Alright you jerks, with your almighty climbing on the Everest experience that so obviously says that leaving a person to die without a single helping gesture is the right thing to do. Here it comes (from someone who actually knows what he's talking about):

    "Sir Edmund Hillary was highly critical of the decision not to try to rescue Sharp, saying that leaving other climbers to die is unacceptable, and the desire to get to the summit has become all-important.

    He also said, "I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top. It was wrong if there was a man suffering altitude problems and was huddled under a rock, just to lift your hat, say good morning and pass on by". He also told the New Zealand Herald that he was horrified by the callous attitude of today’s climbers. "They don’t give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress and it doesn’t impress me at all that they leave someone lying under a rock to die" and that, "I think that their priority was to get to the top and the welfare of one of the... of a member of an expedition was very secondary." "

    Enjoy your time on the top of the world guys and don't bother to think about the people you leave there to die.

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  135. One person acting alone could not hope to save David Sharpe. If everyone had acted together they may have been able to help him off the mountain. Unfortunately there was no forum for discussion in such extreme conditions and therefore no unified decision to take action.

    I do not feel that comparing someone in Sharpe's position to an elderly man in a shopping precint is a fair comparison. Sharpe deliberately subjected himself to a lethal environment for his own purposes... there is a danger of feeling *too* much sympathy for him.

    As always, context is everything.

    The people who saved Lincoln Hall should have their actions exalted as exceptional, not expected.

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  136. Unfortunately David Sharp didn’t survive in the Death Zone. You can read about the whole story in the book Dark Summit where some of this article was plagiarized from.

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  137. Plagiarism is a pretty serious accusation, and I expect you to back it up with some proof if you're sincere. I've gathered facts from dozens of sources, and the bulk of the material on Sharp came from the documentary "Dying for Everest". I've never even heard of the book you refer to though, much less lifted anything from it.

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  138. Most people reading this from the comfort of their heated homes or sitting in their office cubicles can not really comment on the morality of the decision of these men.

    If your life has never been threatened, you have never felt extreme hunger then you have never felt your survival instinct kick into high gear.

    You have the luxury of being able to even contemplate moral decisions, that is a luxury somebody in an extreme situation can not afford.

    Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes, and in the case of the summit of Everest, 100 metres would probably suffice for most.

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  139. I've only gotten through the first third of the comments, so sorry if this is repeating. Climbing at 10,000 feet is enough to start feeling the effects of elevation. The highest I've ever been hiking is 11,000 feet. I'm an average physical shape, and at that point I was taking breaks every couple hundred horizontal feet of hiking because I was that tired. But knowing how tired I felt just at that small elevation is enough to understand why it would be impossible to bring someone off a mountain when they're that high up.

    A group could more than likely pull him out of the death zone, but that's just the beginning. Even out of the death zone you're still working in extreme conditions. Maybe you make it down to the next camp. Even if you do, the chances of them having enough supplies to keep him alive are slim. Then you've got another 10,000 vertical feet of treacherous trail to bring him down, hoping no one falls off a cliff, before you get to base camp. At that point, you're at a base camp. In Tibet. How long till you can get a faster form of transportation to get him to a decent hospital? If you do, is he even going to make it that long? All the while you're putting the lives of the entire group at risk by expending time, effort, and limited supplies.

    I can't say I wouldn't feel terrible about myself for leaving someone there to die. But at some point, the realization that the chances of one or more people in your group getting hurt or dying trying to save one person far outweighs the chances that you'd ever even save them. At some point, there's just nothing you can do.

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  140. If I were to die climbing Everest, (I don't climb) I wouldn't want my body recovered.

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  141. I understand why a person in this situation needs to leave another person to die to save themselves. What I don't understand is why you put yourself in this situation. Making it to the top of Everest does nothing but satisfy one's immense ego. If these people were ruthless business people who felt their success justified cutthroat actions that cost themselves, their families, and society they would be put down as arrogant fools, but these people are brave heroes!?!

    Arrogant fools, the lot of them. Die on the mountain and leave the rest of us to push ourselves for pursuits that actually benefit mankind.

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  142. Video on Everest. Great watch.
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1788082149157525822#

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  143. Note to the climbers. When you climb mountains like Everest you not only risk losing your life you risk losing your humanity. You know you might have to walk pass a dying climber and you will be incapable of helping them. That is the (often ignored) risk you take.

    I agree it's too risky to help someone in that situation but just because you are in an impossible situation doesn't mean you are allowed to retain your humanity. Sometimes the best we can do just isn't good enough and we have to live with the consequences of that fact.

    All 40 of the climbers that passed Sharp that day lost something on that mountain. I don't know if they can get it back or not but I hope you all find a way to honestly and openly deal with what you have been through.

    Tad

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  144. This article has really hashed out a lot of emotional and intellectual response. Some excellent, most rubbish.

    One thing I've come to notice are a lot of reactions relating to not understanding how someone can't save someone else.

    And then the question arises: how far have you extended your perception? Why are you so worried about what death means? Why do most humans harbour such a selfish feeling towards their own kind - yet most humans feel separated from all other mankind and can't understand each other in terms of unity.......

    Take for example - do you slay to stay alive when there is clearly enough food for the world produced by agriculture? But you cry for some human being that chose themselves to walk the path of certain actions leading to their demise.

    Or do you kill without awareness, how many other lifeforms have you put out without thinking twice? Ants? Rodents? Even people?

    On one hand we have those that are somewhat desensitized and don't understand the value of life because of who knows why. And on the other hand we have those who are fighting for something they are trying to defend inside themselves - perhaps they would envision themselves as asking for help on that mountain and everyone just walking by - yet how can you not help being a fool for wanting everyone to help you when you messed up bad - really really bad? You're the other crowd, you make action and then you're like it had nothing to do with me! How did I get here? So naturally you all would like to be saved.

    Regardless of the answer, trying to comment on any creatures path of action when it leads to death - one can not deny that it was certainly that creature that chose their own action. Everything is responsible for it's path, even the cycles of birth, every moment is up to us, has been for millions of years. Cry not for those who pass because what makes us alive and human can not be extinguished by leaving the physical vessel.

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  145. great article. everest is some climb. i wouldnt attemt the climb to the base nevermind the tom. fair play to all climbers,
    they would of carryed them men/women down if they could. any body that says they would of if they were there.. u should attemt the climb im sure ul get someone to carry down.

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  146. I think it is a great insight into the minds of the kinds of people who climb Everest. Think about who they are, people who have made it in life by stepping over the backs of others.

    When life presents them with this ultimate test of courage, what do they do? Do they risk all to save another? Or do they rationalize away their responsibility by saying "Helping others will get you killed."

    Just like they rationalize to themselves when they are stepping over that back.

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  147. Fantastic piece of writing, after reading the comments left regarding the fact that people are left to die on Everest I think these videos explain it better than anyone here has so far. Well worth watching.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQJQapyHAQg&feature=player_embedded

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clvehmQz6ro&feature=player_embedded

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8sj4zhyhlc&feature=player_embedded

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibBi6_2NrEI&feature=player_embedded

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bivOZDjBobg&feature=player_embedded

    Theres approx 50 minutes of video but its well worth watching and will give you a real idea of what these people put themselves through, and exactly what they are laying on the line. Its hard to feel sympathy for the dead, instead I have a sense of respect - almost a feeling of martyrdom.

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  148. Wasn't there a guy that actually survived being abandoned on Everest, I think in the death zone? His shurpa left him, and people passed him thinking he was dead. He spent the night exposed on the mountain, and on the way down, the same people that passed him earlier realized he was alive and brought him down the mountain.

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  149. That may be the case mentioned in the videos I linked, Beck Weathers was left in a storm on Everest overnight and lost conciousness, he somehow managed to come around and then amazingly dragged himself back to camp.

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  150. Steve, thanks! I think that's the guy. I recall seeing it in a documentary :) Wish I could remember that documentary now though lol ;p There's probably a lot of em. Thanks again!

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  151. A single death is a tragedy. So many deaths is more like a statistic.

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  152. Ed Viesturs, an American who has safely climbed all the 8000m summits without supplemental oxygen, states that someone should have tried. I'll take his word as to the feasibility of rescue. According to Ed, they probably didn't try because they really didn't belong up there themselves. Ed helped rescue Beck Weathers. He seems to be more in the Lindsay camp than you "survivalists".

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  153. Reply to Mobius: One cannot take a helicopter to the top of Everest, as you blithely suggest, because of the unpredictable weather but mostly because there is not enough air to support the rotors at that altitude.

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  154. I didn't find the article nearly as interesting as the comments.

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  155. Jeez, if only you could get some of the bodies down... their meat might still be fresh enough to make a curry.

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  156. Nice article. Thanks

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  157. Pointless waste of time. Why not play russian roulette? At least If you die than you famly members can have a funeral. For someone to take such a idiotic chance with there life is beyond compression. why not get a hobby that has a more positive chance of survival, Like anything else other than climbing a pointless mountain! There's NOTHING up there!

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  158. Youre literally standing on top of the world, you are the highest human being on the Planet for that moment in time and that is an amaziong feat, and must feel truly amazing, humbling and the sense of achievement must be massive. People are different - some people take up Golf as a hobby, some knitting, some stamp collecting, some mountain climbing. Everyone on this planet is different and thats what makes the world go round. Life would be one hell of a boring ride if everybody was the same.

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  159. Great post... ¿Would it be possible for me to translate it to spanish and post it to my website with credits and links to this blog?

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  160. The annals of climbing history show without question that rescue under those conditions was possible. People far more incapacitated, on more difficult mountains and in more difficult weather have been rescued by competent mountaineers.

    The only question is weather there was enough individuals of adequate ability among the 40 that walked by, and perhaps there wasn't.

    If you want an appreciation for what "honorable" mountaineers have been willing to attempt in the past, read about Charles Houston's 1953 American expedition to K2.

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  161. A non-climber here but as sentimental as Lindsay's post was, I don't think comparing it to "not jumping into an explosive mine" or "locking fellow sailors and watching them drown to save the ship from sinking" is the same thing. Mining, sailing (as an occupation) puts workers in an environment where there are various OCCUPATIONAL hazards. I don't think climbing Everest for a challenge is considered that.

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  162. Fascinating article. It showed, more than anything, the amount of mental strength required to accomplish a feat like this. People who've climbed mount everest probably believe they can do anything, and they'd right.

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  163. Eric in Panorama BC10 December 2010 at 04:39

    I very much liked Lindsey's comment. It is similar to the sentiment Joe Simpson (Touching the Void) expressed in his book "Dark Shadows Falling".

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  164. It's like Big Wave Paddle surfing. If you can't paddle out to it, you have no business paddling into it. Or towing for that matter.

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  165. To all the Inglis and Co. sympathizers, I just have to say...what!? I watched both documentaries cited at the end of this post, one of which focused entirely on Sharp. I have thought about and understand how difficult it would have been for even a large group of people to ultimately save Sharp. HOWEVER...I cannot sympathize with them or give them any credit whatsoever, because they DID NOT EVEN TRY. One of the 40 people was a Lebanese climber who did not see Sharp on the ascent but stopped to help him on the descent. He gave him oxygen, tried to speak with him and tried to help him to his feet for what was likely an hour. He ultimately decided that since Sharp literally could not move, his life could ultimately not be saved.

    This is the ONLY man we should be giving credit to.

    Lincoln Hall, the man who was saved a week later in similar conditions, was still able to walk. In the second documentary, Inglis whines that David clearly couldn't walk. How would he know!? He didn't stop to check! This is not to say that Inglis was solely to blame - they all were. Inglis himself would have been able to do little but radio their guide, Russell Brice (which he claims he did and Brice says he most certainly did not). His oxygen tank was leaking and was was suffering excruciating pain and frostbite in his stubs. Ascending Everest was especially difficult for him, having to use artificial legs.

    It most likely would have been possible to save Sharp on the ascent. Unlikely, but not impossible. Sir Edmund Hillary and Brice both commented saying that the men should have tried to do more. These are men who have both "been there, done that" in every sense of the word, so I'll trust their judgment more so than that of a bunch of wannabe-intellectuals.

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  166. Everyone who attempts to reach the summit is aware of the deal: you could die trying and no-one can help you because they're all dying too. That's the DEAL! It's the hard reality of it. And in some ways, while we feel mostly comfortable during our days on this earth, the reality is that life will GET you, one day, and no-one will be able to stop it when your time is up. The mountain is a model for life itself. Sleep tight!

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  167. Of course, you can hasten your time by attempting to go places with names like DEAD ZONE! Again, it's part of the deal everyone is aware of up there. The normal rules of society do not apply.

    Personally, I'm a bit of a sociopath, so I wouldn't lose a wink of sleep. I can rationalize those freezing, dying people quite easily: they asked for it.

    And to those people who think this is heartless - how many people's lives is it worth to try to rescue ONE person? Because all those people would be thinking, "If we do this (help the dying mountaineer) we could ALL die!"

    That's the gamble. Clearly, some people do not have the stomach for such adventures. Remember, adventures are not just adventures like in the movies, they're adventures into the farthest reaches of existence.. way out past the safe markers of our comfortable society and its niceties.

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  168. After looking at and also reading this my own oppinion is that these people attempt this climb knowing that they may die , they know that the chances of reaching the summit is unlikely buuuut yet they still attempt it .

    we run , jump ,play games , involve ourselves in sports so we can push ourselves as far as we can as this is human nature , these people who have tried and failed did so knowing the risk but also the buzz of conquering themselves and also the mountain .

    I have nothing but respect and admiration for all the climbers , successful or not just for their sheer guts and bravery at pushing themselves to their limits and beyond , where would we be as a human race if people did not try to push the limits whether human , scientific or any other barrier ,

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  169. How many cold homeless people have you walked past today?

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  170. I think the bodies somehow add to the mystique and overall experience of the climbers. I think that the somewhat secret society of climbers are resisting the removal of the corpses. The personality of a person wanting to climb Everest would want it to be as difficult and self-rewarding as possible... and the bodies are a kind of "I'm better than you" testament to this type of personality.

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  171. "where would we be as a human race if people did not try to push the limits whether human , scientific or any other barrier " Look around you...just how great is the human race doing?

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  172. It's not tragic to die doing what you love to do!!!
    While it is not something I could ever do, I have great admiration for those that set out on this death defying adventure!!
    If you decide to take part in this activity you must be fully prepared to die, and honestly if I were to take this challenge and fail,I would want my body left there as a tribute to my efforts.

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  173. This guy went up _WITHOUT_ oxygen tank:

    http://www.badassoftheweek.com/messner.html

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  174. If I was scared of dying, I wouldn't have tried the first place. Its my passion, to climb. I lived it throughout!

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  175. What someone needs to invent is a self-inflating ball that garbage can be plopped into before the ball is rolled down the mountain. Although I'd hate to be dude trying to climb a few hundred feet below the ball's release...

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  176. Amazing comments. Bottom line is excessive individualism and rampant narcissism. Climb responsibly within your limits as part of a committed team and then you can call yourself a mountaineer. Getting down is as important as getting up.

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  177. Great article. I'm not a climber and don't think that's something I'd enjoy, but these accounts are interesting, nonetheless. Looking at the photos, I noticed something. Nobody else has mentioned it, so I might just be weird. But a lot of the corpses have gear missing. And not just gear, but clothing as well. What happens to these items?

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  178. I cant risk my life for such a useless venture, what is the point in people praising you when you are dead. Your pictures show photoz of people who look like half cooked. That is something which is pointless to prove

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  179. I used to rock climb and enjoy mountaineering as a youth and through college. The main principle I learned was managing risk. One has to look into one's soul to decide what is worth the risk and what is not. I decided to enjoy the mountains, but to not push my factor of safety to an unacceptable margin.

    When climbing an 8000+ meter peak, like Everest, you are pushing the very edge of the envelope of human existence, like being in "coffin corner,' as we say in aviation. There is little margin for error. Even in the best of situations, you can die. For example, if you are waiting in a queue of climbers, you burn up precious oxygen and the clock is ticking in the Death Zone. Meanwhile your hypoxic mind is nagging you about how much effort, time, and resources you have invested in your goal of summiting. If you make the decision to risk it and wait, your margin of safety gets thinner.

    People who have decided to do the summit of Everest have accepted the 10% risk of death. The rules of the game are different in the stratosphere than at lower elevations, and these people have accepted the risks and consequences of their actions in this environment.

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  180. Read the whole thing and not one person has identified the lack of respect for showing the photos of dead climbers. These were real people with friends and families and some of you laugh, whilst others think they are left there to add spice to the adventure. They deserve to be left alone. RIP all of them.

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  181. Never mind how people behave on Everest, its no different to city centers in which the homeless freeze to death ever year. Only difference is people never give it a second thought, as the evidence to their indiffernce is cleaned up as soon as its discovered. Everest is the true face of human nature, indiffernce to all but one's self.

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  182. Didn't make it through all the comments, but those suggesting an airlift at or near the summit are thinking in pipedreams.

    None of the articles about the Everest landing talk about it, but to take a heli up that high, you need to heavily modify it with special equipment (and most question if it's legit or just Eurocopter inflating their operational claims through video editing). Then you run into the problems of terrain and wind. If it's not just Eurocopter propaganda, they had to do this under ideal conditions on a pre-surveyed area of the summit; which you won't have time to do in a S.A.R. situation. From what I've seen, most of these paths wouldn't be wide enough to park even half of a helicopter on, and those that are probably wouldn't support the weight. Then you factor in the wind-shears and you get those birds being thrown around like toys.

    Just for reference: I was in a Civil Air Patrol SAR unit and we trained a lot on ravine and cliff face recovery (just to the south of us are the Kentucky Foothills). We operated with helicopters about 1/2 the time, and dad was a UH-1 pilot.

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  183. To those who have said we who haven't been there can't judge... yes we certainly can. I can certainly judge someone who chooses to take part in a hobby that may "force" them to walk past the dying without a second thought. I can certainly judge someone who thinks that the danger involved in helping absolves them of all guilt for not trying to help or even assessing the person fully enough to know if it would be hopeless. Anyone who can do that and justify it as necessary, the product of hazardous and strenuous conditions, and thus totally ethical and fine is at best horribly self-centered and at worst a sociopath.

    Maybe the guy couldn't be helped. Maybe it would have been too dangerous to try. You still try, and if you don't then you at least have the decency to feel bad about it. If you can't manage either of these, then you at least don't whine when people call you a jackass.

    Because you know what? Not everyone who's never climbed Everest is a pampered desk-jockey with no idea of what it's like to be uncertain of survival. Many people have been in adverse, extreme life-or-death situations, and many don't choose to care only about themselves. People decide to help others, even when it means putting themselves in great danger, all the time. If these folks as a group have decided that callousness and selfishness are the necessary traits of a true mountaineer, then I think the rest of us are gonna be fine with judging them. Don't like it? Maybe you shouldn't have abandoned a dying person on Everest, then.

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  184. It's amusing how the "they knew what they were getting into and that it might cost them their lives" defense works against the poor dying fools and not against the people who pass them by and refuse to attempt to rescue them because it might cost their lives. Hey, they knew what they were getting into in climbing that mountain! They knew they might be in a situation where they'd have to make that choice!

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  185. Climbing and descending Everest must be something like being in a battle. Sometimes there is nothing you can do for others and you have to take care of yourself first. Sad, but that's the reality.

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  186. Is the person on the last picture touching himself?

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  187. To the person who left the post above. You are a moron. You are looking at a real person, who didn't expect his body to be laughed at by idiots like you. These pictures should be removed as they only serve to make morons laugh or judge people they never knew or understood. Have some respect.

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  188. [ Taking such risks for no good reason - would that these people would spend their efforts on something important, like fighting climate change, rather than pointless sport. ]

    They did fight climate change - they died. Isn't that the solution many of the dedicated humanitarians in that "fight" believe would work best?

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  189. All of these "you can't judge, you haven't climbed it" comments piss me off. Sir Edmund Hillary himself said of the climbers who ignored Sharp:

    "They don’t give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress and it doesn’t impress me at all that they leave someone lying under a rock to die"
    and

    "I think that their priority was to get to the top and the welfare of one of the... of a member of an expedition was very secondary"

    If the first successful climber of Everest feels that way, then it's good enough for me.

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  190. I know someone who scaled Everest, and I'll relate a few of his comments to me:

    a. According to him, DESCENT is twice as hard as ASCENT. Its a question of decreased traction, and increased fatigue on the way down. In other words, once you've actually hit the summit, you're only 1/3 done!

    b. EVERYONE who steps foot on that mountain for ascent knows that doing so can be fatal. You know that before you get there, you know that when you've been acclimating for weeks/months at the base camp, and in case you've somehow forgotten, you're reminded again and again when you pass frozen and largely irretrievable cadavers on the way up and down.

    You also know, as already mentioned, that if you make a mistake or aren't up to the task, you can't expect help, and you know that trying to help someone else who has screwed up can KILL you. The window of opportunity to get up the mountain and down again can is small, and can be fleeting.

    Those are the "rules" of the "game" you've committed to play when climbing, and it takes a certain kind of person to even want to play. So personally, I'm not going to judge anyone up there who isn't willing to risk EXTRA to their already at-risk lives to help someone else whose dying up there. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, if you can't stand the cold, get out of the icebox.

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  191. Taking that car accident analogy in (what is to me)a more accurate direction, I would expect climbing Everest is like this...

    You are driving yourself to the hospital because your leg/arm/whatever is slashed and severely bleeding. You will bleed out and die soon. You have to focus on getting there because, as you lose blood, your losing your ability to think clearly.

    Then, on the way, you see a car accident on the side of the road... one victim is missing an entire limb and will be dead in minutes... should you stop to help?

    Since so many want to rediculously compare climbing Everest to sea level emergencies... I thought I would add my own. :P

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  192. I have to make a post on this blog. All of the people who are strongly against the decision to leave people on the mountain, I would presume have never done any serious mountaineering, and for that reason, I can understand why they cannot comprehend the environment or the task at hand.

    This is a great article. From my point of view, the people who risk their life climbing tall mountains do so knowingly.

    Whether you reach the top, or perish trying, everyone is remembered for attempting something truly remarkable in terms of physical achievement and human spirit.

    Climbers have to be able to manage risk. Sometimes they make the decision to go down. But ultimately, you have to make a decision. To hesitate can sometimes make the decision for you.

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  193. Greatest blogpost I have read for years. The silence of people whom I talk about the Everest is just so awsome... People trained in solving ethical problems I mean.
    Great job, you have a talent for philosophy.

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  194. @"To those who have said we who haven't been there can't judge... yes we certainly can..." Thank you for your comments. And thanks to whoever posted the comments referring to Juan Oiarzabal's comments on this situation. He's a REAL pro, unlike half the luck sons-of-witches that get lucky on Everest. Also thanks to The Lampshade's comment, which should put all of the "I'm a climber you're not so you have no idea what it's like attitude" down. Oiarzabal is the climber I choose to listen to, not some fakers like you. Also thanks to this comment: "Ed Viesturs, an American who has safely climbed all the 8000m summits without supplemental oxygen, states that someone should have tried. I'll take his word as to the feasibility of rescue. According to Ed, they probably didn't try because they really didn't belong up there themselves. Ed helped rescue Beck Weathers. He seems to be more in the Lindsay camp than you "survivalists"." Viesturs is another expert opinion I'll choose to hold higher than you noobs on the internet. I'll finish with this, yet again, another REAL pro and expert on Everest, and mountaineering "Sir Edmund Hillary was highly critical of the decision not to try to rescue Sharp, saying that leaving other climbers to die is unacceptable, and the desire to get to the summit has become all-important."

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  195. and thank you godhead, you did a great job.

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