Left for Dead on Everest

If you’ve read my blog recently, or follow high alpine climbing at all, you’ve no doubt hear about the recent controversy in the climbing community regarding leaving someone behind on Everest. Stellar Magazine has weighed in on the topic with an article entitled Left For Dead On Everest, which does a great job of getting to the heart of the topic.

Basically, the debate stems from the fact that British climber David Sharpe died on Everest, despite the fact that a number of people saw him struggling and did nothing to help. A few days later, Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to summit Everest commented that in his day, they would never have left someone behind on the mountain, and basically he blasted the climbing community for putting the summit ahead of helping others. From there, the debate has blossomed, with strong opinions on both sides.

I’ve made my thoughts on the topic known here already, and I still feel the same. When climbing above 8000 meters, it is difficulty enough to get yourself down off the mountain in one piece, and when you attempt to help someone else, you put your own life, and that of your entire team, into jeopardy. It may seem heartless, but it’s the way it has to be most of the time. However, I do agree that putting the summit ahead of someone else’s safety is a bad idea, and is making things worse on the worlds highest peaks.