Ethics of Everest: Here We Go Again!

While reading Alan Arnette’s Everest 2007 Page earlier, I came across an interesting, but disturbing, story. It seems that the IMG Team had to come to the rescue of woman who was in trouble just below the Balcony as they were making their descent following a successful summit. It seems the woman, who is described as a Nepalese climber, but non-Sherpani, was “abandoned” by her team on the way up the mountain. It seems the IMG Team found her in what is described as “bad shape” and helped her down to Camp 3 where she was turned over to the Extreme Everest Team which consists mostly of doctors doing high altitude research.

At this time, that is about all we know of the story, but just a year removed from the David Sharp incident, you have to think that this will raise some serioius questions about the ethics on the mountain. It seems that this woman was left behind by her team as they were in the midst of their summit push, and no one bothered to make sure that she could safely get back down the mountain. Considering the out cry from the climbing community last season, it seems so strange that we would have a similar incident this so soon afterwards. Thank goodness the IMG Team were on their way down and were still strong enough, and caring enough, to make sure she reached medical care.

I’m sure we’ll hear much more about this story in the days ahead, and I don’t want to jump to too many conclusions until we’ve heard it all, but honestly, it smells like another controversy preparing to boil over. I can see the headlines now: “Climber Abandonded At 27,500 Feet” It’ll be interesting to see which team she was a part of. One thing is for sure though, Russel Brice wasn’t involved in any way shape or form with this one.

Kraig Becker

3 thoughts on “Ethics of Everest: Here We Go Again!”

  1. I think that it’s very easy to compare every new rescue or death to a “lesson learned” from the David Sharp debacle, but I believe that this is more of a media construction than a real paradigm shift on the mountain. Remember, that same season saw Lincoln Hall’s rescue (book coming this year) from high up. Regardless of the spin the media puts on events (good or bad), finding the truth usually takes a little perspective.

    I would suggest that there have always been, and will always be, people predisposed to acts of selflessness and courage on Everest – – just as there are people predisposed to saving their own skins. It’s unfair to relate the dynamics of the whole mountain to this incident. Perhaps a better way of looking at Everest is as a boiled-down, high-stakes microcosm of the more general human experience. And by that, I mean people who suck vs. people who don’t suck.

    Love the site. Keep up the good work, Kraig.

  2. You do make a good point, there are always good and bad people, no matter where you go in life. And yes, the media has surely put an even bigger spotlight on Everest and the choices that are made there these days.

    As I said when I posted, I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more about this over the next few days, but I have to say that I do have a problem with someone being “abandoned” on the climb. The team should have made sure that she got down safely, period. In the case of David Sharp, he was climbing independently, and didn’t have a team to look after him.

    I also feel that these kinds of stories have become more common as Everest has gotten more crowded. Years ago, it was mostly hardcore mountaineers there, and they understood the risks and accepted them at a level that I don’t think many of the climbers on the mountain now have. The climate has changed to be sure.

    I’m glad you like the blog Alex. I appreciate your comments and the fact that you stop by to read. 🙂

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