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