By now you must know about the climber on Everest with severe altitude sickness up at 28,000’. The climbers walked past him and let him die, and the morality of Everest is under attack.
First, I say to all of those who judge the climbers on the mountain that day: you can only judge if you have been at altitude on a climb. I have been on the mountain and lived and worked with the Sherpa for a month; they took me into their homes. If a rescue was possible, they would have done it.
But there is no way to rescue someone from 28,000 feet. Absolutely no way! If you have such severe altitude sickness like he did, the 18 hour journey down to base camp would have killed him. (Plus how would you get him over the Khumbu Icefall without killing him?) Base Camp is not low enough to recover from Altitude Sickness since it is at 18,000’ and there is exactly 1/2 the oxygen in the air than at sea level. And that is assuming that he would have had a rescue from Base Camp, the last time a helicopter tried to go to base camp, exactly 3 years ago last week, it crashed and killed everyone on board. (Remember I brought a piece of the helicopter home?) So he would have had to go down, all the way to Namche Bizarre for a helicopter or plane.
If it was me some friends have asked? I remember on September 11th we went over to the hospitals to give blood. What was amazing about that scene was that the Doctors set up a triage unit in the street. (Thankfully it was not necessary since there was so much less damage than there could have been.) But it gave me a lesson in triage. Sometimes it is ugly, but necessary.
I would have given some spare oxygen if I had some (which DID happen by 2 climbers and is not in many articles) and moved on. I walked past a climber in very bad shape at about 14,000 feet on Mt. Rainer. I stopped and said "Are you all right dude?" He said "No, but I will be ok, I’ll be going down with my guide when he returns from the summit." At that point lacking any emergency equipment and oxygen myself, not to mention the severe pain I was in, I moved on. (He did make it down, I checked.)
This is not the commercialization of Everest, this is the popularity of Everest, people want to do Everest and it gets crowded. Statistically more people die then in the 1960s when nobody was on the mountain. (Sir. Edmond Hillary is just bitter about that. Climbers disagree with his criticism.) Some "real" climbers want to keep the "paying" climbers like me off the mountain. Let me tell you, every "paying" climber I met was an amazing person in amazing shape with lots of experience. Anyone who trains, has some experience, and is willing to pay for an expedition should be allowed on the mountain. (Though the Government of Nepal should limit the permits it gives out.) They do have to understand the risks, you can be left behind.
Baseball, football, tennis, etc usually doesn’t involve death as one of the risk factors. Mountain climbing does. Get over it.
The death is a tragedy and sad, but unfortunately a risk we take when we climb Mt. Everest. One in seven climbers die above 28,000’.
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