Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Latest Mt Everest “first” – man left to die alone, rather than spoiling boomer’s summit wank

With implacably bad timing, Bill Leak yesterday wrote of ever-easier Mt Everest “firsts”. Leak’s timing was so awry because a few hours later, details emerged of a climber’s particularly awful death high up on Everest.

I’ll cut to the chase: 34-year-old David Sharp’s life may well have been unsaveable when the 47-year-old Mark Inglis’s party encountered him. And, by taking below-recommended amounts of oxygen with him, and climbing Everest more or less alone (isn’t there an all-purpose motherly maxim against such?), Sharp must have understood he was taking a large risk with his own life, and so therefore carry sole responsibility for his own death.

But equally, surely Mark Inglis’s party could have done something for David Sharp, without in any way risking their own lives? That "something" admittedly would have probably stopped their successful summiting (Inglis et al were on their way up when they encountered the prone Sharp (who was descending after successfully summiting, FWIW)). At the very least, two of them (for safety) should have stayed with Sharp for (i) as long as he was conscious, providing that (ii) they were not risking their own (/party's) safety by so doing.

Not that doing such would have saved his life, of course. But Holy Fucking Christ, what must have been going through the poor man’s mind, as 40 (!) people walked past his obviously-stricken form, admittedly some of them taking a moderate interest in his health, sufficient for them to stop briefly, radio back to base for advice – and then push on up, leaving David Sharp to die alone (AFAICT).

I’m not sure if David Sharp’s being an Xer, and the others (Mark Inglis, at least) being boomers has anything to do with it. In any case, the Most Callous Thing Said or Done Award for the whole tragedy seems to belong with David Sharp’s mum:

"Your responsibility is to save yourself - not to try and save anybody else," Sharp's mother, Linda, told the Evening Gazette newspaper in Britain.

Possibly, she might disagree with me that helping her son not to die alone would have been a good thing; more likely, she just hasn’t considered it. Then again, given that her son so willfully defied the ancient maternal injunction about not doing things alone (as well as probably not having changed into clean underpants that morning, to boot), maybe she thinks that he just got what he deserved; an awful, lonely death with only a shrill voice inside his head for company.

Other references:

Dying left in Everest climb

Abandoned in the 'death zone'

Update 27 May 2006

Now back in New Zealand, Mark Inglis has objected to being singled out over David Sharp’s dying alone. (I’ve already said that I don’t believe that Sharp’s life could have been saved, although I am starting to have second thoughts, below)

[Inglis] said he was surprised by the attention he had received, given he was one of about 40 climbers who walked past Sharp.

"So much of this situation has ended up focused on me personally when there were a very large number of other people on the mountain who were far more confident and capable.

While reportage has conspicuously failed to clarify who was the leader of the team Mark Inglis was in, this comment damns him quite sufficiently (whether or not Inglis was the nominal leader):

PETER LEWIS: Before he left Nepal, Mark Inglis told Television New Zealand that in climbing, as in everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

MARK INGLIS: And I paid probably as much as anyone on that whole mountain. The problem is that two-thirds or three-quarters of the people on that mountain have paid a pittance, have paid sort of about US$8,000 through to slightly more, some slightly less, and they've been given the opportunity, but given no support whatsoever - no Sherpas, no oxygen, no camps.

Yuk – what a scum-sucking piece of boomer low-life. US$8,000 is a “pittance”: yeah, right. The obvious implication is that Inglis, because he could afford to, did a “gold class” Everest climb, and that Sharp was a mere gate-crasher into his cozy club.

But it gets better, in terms of some remarkable differences in the detailed versions of what happened, as told by Inglis vs Australian “businessman” Bob Killip (at 52, also a boomer and also presumably rich)

Here’s Inglis:

"My sherpa sort of just pushed me on . . . that was the end of the situation really. I did nothing. I did nothing, you know. I did everything that I possibly could, which was essentially nothing."

Ah, the Sherpa did it! But in fairness to Inglis, this account seems over-embellished with personal guilt/regret; even in doing “nothing”, he still at least stopped and radioed back to base (per above post).

Or did he?

Here’s the Killip version:

"We climbed past him on the way up at about 2am on May 15 but we thought it was the body of a Polish climber who has been frozen there for years. We didn't know there was a climber missing."

Mr Killip said that later, as his group was headed back *down* from the summit, one of the climbers noticed signs of life.

"A bloke called Max, from Lebanon, saw he was alive and immediately started trying to give him oxygen . . . Max spent 90 minutes with him but he eventually realised there was nothing we could do. He was devastated and he didn't want to leave him".
(emphasis added).

Now, I accept that, high up on Everest at 2am, it is presumably easy to mistake a living person for a frozen corpse, especially as one stumbles half-asleep up to the summit, knowing that if one doesn’t get back to camp the next night, death is the almost certain outcome.

But obviously, Sharp can’t have been that close to death as the Inglis/Killip team passed him on the way up, for he was visibly alive about 16 hours later (I’m guessing) as the team came back down.

So which is it, guys? The pushy Sherpa, or the old Polish corpse-decoy trick? Apart from their inconsistency, both versions share a curious trait, in that Sharp’s life was very nearly, almost saveable. That is, if it wasn’t for those pesky Sherpas and/or dead Poles . . .

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?