Friday, May 26, 2006

What's it Worth?

I can't express my disgust any better than Edmund Hillary does...

Story Link

Sir Edmund Hillary has questioned the actions of New Zealand climber Mark Inglis, who left another climber to die on his way to conquering Mt Everest.

Inglis, a double-amputee, was one of many climbers who passed British climber David Sharp, 34, on his way to the top of the world's highest mountain a week ago.

Sharp, a 34-year-old engineer, later died on the mountain.

"In our expedition there was never any likelihood whatsoever if one member of the party was incapacitated that we would just leave him to die," Hillary, the first climber to conquer Everest, told the Otago Daily Times today.

On Monday night, Inglis said his own party was the only one to stop and help Sharp from among about 40 climbers who walked on past Sharp as he lay in Everest's "death zone" above 8000m.

Other climbers reported seeing Sharp trying to work on his oxygen system, but Inglis said the Briton had no oxygen.

Sharp had climbed alone, after two previous unsuccessful attempts in 2003 and 2004, without oxygen.

Both times he was forced to turn back at 8470m. This time, he apparently reached the summit with the help of two four litre oxygen bottles from a trekking company.

Hillary said that on his expedition there was no way you would leave a man under a rock to die.

He said people had completely lost sight of what was important.

"There have been a number of occasions when people have been neglected and left to die and I don't regard this as a correct philosophy," he said.

He said the difficulties posed by operating at high altitude were not an excuse.

"I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mt Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top," he said.

"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."

A scientist who has studied oxygen use on Mt Everest told the Otago Daily Times he believed the life of the British climber could have been saved.

University of Otago scientist and mountaineer Dr Phil Ainslie said it might have been possible to revive the climber with bottled oxygen and even get him down to safety.

However, he said that one chance of making the summit would have dictated events.

Many on the mountain had paid upwards of $US75,000 ($99,000) and were effectively being dragged up by guides, he said.

About 160 people have died while attempting Mt Everest since 1953, when it was conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay.


  1. Unfortunately, this is pretty common. Read "Into Thin Air." By the time climbers get to that level, even with oxygen supplementation they are exhausted beyond all imagination and their brains do not function all that well. For some, to make a decision to help another person is not possible. I'm not condoning this practice, but if you are going to climb Everest, you have to realize your chances of dying are probably close to 50%. As to Sir Edmund...not to be a cynic, but he climbed over 50 years ago, it is very easy for him to be disgusted. Would he have felt the same way when he was on the moutnain?

    Anyway, climbing Everest sounds like suicide to me. Love to read about it though.

  2. For me the fact that that one man had been in the same/similar position 20 years ago and had some spectacular helicopter rescue says it all. I was reading another story in People, about an American left for dead who crawled down the mountain on his own.

    I don't think Hillary even had oxygen? I don't know. Personally in my head it seperates peoples' values to me. I KNOW they want to climb the mountain, but at the expense of helping a human being? It's just wrong.

  3. Very wrong. But Rene has a point - maybe the lack of oxygen does affect people's decision making processes enough so that they didn't "realize" the danger? I don't know, I would hate to think that all of them didn't do anything on purpose. I don't know - I'm trying real hard not to let cynicism take over every part of me.

  4. This brings to morality in a situation an ingrained trait or a thoughtful and concise decision? To me it is ingrained. To go against everything I have been raised to be would take an extreme decision.

  5. Toni, if you haven't read Krakauer's Into Thin Air, and you're interested in this stuff, I'd highly recommend it. It's an awesome (in the true sense of that word) window into the context of what makes people come to decisions like this -- and into the industry of climbing mountains like Everest in general. It's riveting, haunting, well- written ... and sheesh, it leaves you thinking of the all-time keepers on my shelf. Right next to Junger's The Perfect Storm :)

  6. I agree with you Toni, not matter how much money you have spent to go on such an expedition I still don't feel that I could walk past some one and let them die. May be different when you are up there and oxygen challenged but I guess we'll never know that.

    Have you seen the film Vertical Limit? Another dilemma, do you cut the rope and let your 'buddy' die (or not as the case may be) or basically hold on forever with potentially both of you dying?

    Finally caught up with ER - season finale next week. Poor Michael, poor Neela, poor Vic......

  7. I actually knew someone who did die on Everest. His name was Nick Escort and he was a great bloke. This is horrible.

  8. Well that's just sad. Really. It's called priorties, people!! Perhaps before climbing Everest climbers should have a psychiatric test completed. Are they sane enough to climb let alone moral enough?

  9. I can't see letting someone die either. At the same time I would have to think going up that mountain in the first place means that you understand what it means to get to the top, the expense in time, money and emotion. That's the wild west up there if I understand it correctly. When a young man struck out west, he was taking his chances where law feared to go. Sometimes we take our chances. I'd say that anyone reading about this story should think twice about it.

  10. people are nuts - first for wanting to climb the thing; second for actualy attempting it - I am thankful I'm lazy -if I ever get left behind - my butt's on the sofa wathcing tv in the a/c!

  11. I just don't think I could do that...

  12. I echo Loreth on the "Perfect Storm." I'm so glad I saw the movie first because I wouldn't have appreciated the book so much. Both "Into Thin Air" and "Perfect Storm" are wonderful book. However Krakauer has been taking some heat over his part in the expedition. Still, I would read his book in the summer. I was so cold when I read it *G*

  13. Hmm. I liked the movie The Perfect Storm, haven't read the book. I've heard lots about Into Thin Air, but never read it. Must do that.

    I'm used to divers. The effects of Nitrogen nicosis and other weird things at depth are well documented. But the other divers always keep safety and human life as their priority. (I'm not an expert but I have many diver friends and did some myself). Safety first. If you can't be trusted to be their buddy, they won't dive with you. Is climbing really any different?

    And then there is the law/morality.

    Are there places in the world where it is OK if we just let someone die? You betcha there are. Is it right? No it isn't.

    These people have enough cash to get up that mountain. They have the endurance and strength of character to get up the mountain. Maybe a real test of character would be sacrificing what you really want in order to do the right thing. I'm often disappointed by people I should theoretically admire. My problem not theirs.

  14. This is just wrong. It's sad how people get so caught up in competition and the thought of winning or power or whatever.....they totally forget about human life. They don't stop to remember that somewhere out there is a family waiting for news about their loved one and they were too busy or selfish to help.

    I don't think I could ever just walk on by and let someone die...sad!!!

  15. it is brutal. I read "Into Thin Air" as well and I think they are all kind of nuts.

    if you go to that mountain, expect to die. and if you don't die then you got lucky. As the author of Into Thin Air tried to get across in his book - it is a deadly mission.

    it is sad and horrifying to let a man die in your own selfish ambition to scale the mountain. but on that mountain they are possessed by their climb and their goal and some just can't get past it - as this case. and as rene put it it they are not exactly in a decision making frame of mind.

    so sad - if my husband got in his mind to do something like that- I'd wring his neck before he got close to the mountain!

    But hey - if that is their dream - i guess some just feel they have to do it. glad it is not my man and hopefully my son would never get such an idea.

  16. Yes--neck wringing and *Desperate Housewives* style incarceration would happen around here if DH decided to climb Everest. I'm open to taking up a challenge, but that might freak me out :(

  17. Anonymous11:07 pm

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