THE DRAMATIC news early yesterday that Australian mountain climber LincolnHall has survived after being pronounced dead at 8700 metres while climbing down from the summit of Mount Everest is wonderful. But it also brings into stark relief the horror of British climber David Sharp's lonely death a few days earlier.
The 34-year-old engineer was passed by as many as 40 climbers, determined to reach the summit, as he lay dying under a rock shelf from a lack of oxygen.
Rather than being hailed a hero for climbing the world's highest mountainon prosthetic legs, Inglis [one of the climbers who passed the dying man] has borne the brunt of public criticism for Sharp's neglect, not least from Everest pioneer and fellow Kiwi Sir Edmund Hillary, who at the age of 86 clearly hasn't lost grip of his moral compass.
"I haven't seen any evidence so far that this chap hiding under a rock was in a hopeless condition," Hillary told Television New Zealand last week.
"If he'd been given a little bit of oxygen and helped down, he might still be alive.
"I don't think it matters a damn if he was from another party, if he was Swiss or from Timbuktu or whatever. He was a human being, and we would regard it as our duty to get him back to safety."
Addendum, June 3
Tom Smith comments at The Right Coast, this and a lot more. Go read.
No doubt we will hear the usual, oh mountaineering is just so complex and difficult that if you were not there you cannot possibly judge anybody who climbed by. Baloney. Experienced mountaineers are condemning this callous, inhuman behavior, as well they should. But it will go on until somebody with clout takes action. It is long overdue for prestigious climbing organizations to take a stand and call for some sort of minimal code of behavior among climbers on Everest in terms of rendering aid on big mountains. Except that it has its hands full with a civil war, I don't think it would be going too far for the government of Nepal to simply suspend all climbing of Everest until this is sorted out. I don't think doing so would be any more problematic than a municipality banning diving from a railroad bridge from which teenagers habitually managed to kill themselves. That is one of the things governments are for -- to ban affronts to decency.