/ Good news from Everest

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ablackett - on 02 Jun 2012
No judgement on everyone else who has climbed everest from me - I wasn't there. Sounds to me like David O'Brien did the right thing up there. Well done to him.

From the Times today.

As the short summiting season on Mount Everest draws to a close, the man who deserves the highest praise is one who did not make it to the roof of the world. Just a few hundred feet short of the top, the British mountaineer David O’Brien encountered a Polish climber lying in the snow. Abandoned by his colleagues, the Pole was not far off becoming the eleventh person to die on Everest this year.
Mr O’Brien and his team faced a choice: continue with their own attempt on the summit, tantalisingly close, or abandon it and save another man’s life. Mr O’Brien did the right thing, guiding the stricken man down to safety. He survived, recovered, and apparently later failed to recognise and thus thank his rescuer, an omission this newspaper is happy to correct. Mr O’Brien is a credit to climbers everywhere.
Some people on Everest, however, are anything but. Very high altitude degrades mental and physical ability. Unfortunately, the thin air seems also to suffocate the moral capacity of some among the dangerously large numbers queueing impatiently for their crack at the summit. To climb past a frozen corpse, long beyond help, is merely macabre. To climb past a fellow human being whom you could prevent becoming a corpse is immoral.
Having paid a small fortune to be there, accustomed to getting their own way, heedless of the risk to themselves and their sherpa guides, some would-be summiteers leave their conscience back at Base Camp like so much unnecessary kit. These people should realise that there is no honour in an achievement, however glamorous, secured by climbing over — literally, in some cases — the bodies of the dying.
Everest will still be there next year.

Blog post on the same subject -
http://www.jonkeverest.org/blog/2012/05/31/Post-36-Getting-the-Facts-Right.aspx

More from The Times today.
ore than 8,000 metres up, close to Everest’s South Col, dawn was just breaking when David O’Brien spotted what at first he thought was a rock lying in the snow.
“As I got closer I could see the yellow of a down suit — it was a climber lying still on his side,” the British mountaineer said. “His oxygen mask was off and his nostrils were white, frostbitten. I asked him his name and what group he was with but only got a slurred, unrecognisable response.”

Mr O’Brien and his team spent the next few hours on May 20 trying to save the man, a Polish climber who had been abandoned by his team but who survived largely because of Mr O’Brien’s help, by dragging him down the mountain.

But this year, the busiest in the 59 years since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first conquered the world’s tallest peak, ten other climbers were not so fortunate. Exhausted and dazed by the high altitude and lack of oxygen, they died on its slopes, some stumbling down crevasses, some suffering from strokes, others left to freeze as fellow climbers stepped past them.


But he has little sympathy for those who ignore the warnings then get into difficulty. “The mountain didn’t kill these people, they killed themselves,” Mr Jenkins said. “In many cases, the sherpas told the client, ‘You are moving too slowly, you are going to die’ and the client refused — and they died. They viewed the summit as more important than their own life.”
For Zimba Zangbu, the sherpa president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association who has climbed Everest four times, the change in the Everest climbing scene began in the 1990s. “Expeditions became very commercial and they started issuing a lot of permits,” he said, adding that the Nepalese Government now charged $10,000 in royalty per person.
“More expeditions means more royalty and more revenue for the Government. Because expeditions have become so commercial, there is much less stress on training. Poorly trained climbers without enough exposure to the climate are going up who have no idea about the need to acclimatise to the oxygen levels and hardships.”

Mr Zangbu said that the average total amount paid by climbers to scale Everest was about $70,000 per person plus tips — including the cost of permits, guides, sherpas, equipment and food — although some would pay up to $110,000 if they wanted to be taken up by a personal western guide. With about 446 foreigners trying to climb the mountain this season, his estimate suggests that more than $31 million was spent in total, with nearly $5 million going directly to the Government.

“It’s a very lucrative business,” Mr Jenkins said. “But more people means more deaths, more pollution and more mess.”

The Everest industry is not just limited to dealing with living climbers. Shriya Shah-Klorfine, a 33-year-old Canadian woman, was climbing with Utmost Adventure Trekking, which charged $36,270 for a place on its 69-day Everest expedition this year, when she died on May 19 as she descended from the summit, near a spot known as the Balcony. Her body was brought down last week by two teams of sherpas in an elaborate operation that involved the use of a helicopter — and which apparently cost $25,000, paid for by her insurer and her family.
Ganesh Thakuri, the expedition manager, said: “The first team took it down from the South Col about 600 metres. Then I sent another team up and they managed to get it down a bit farther to a place where we could get the helicopter in.”

He continued: “There are still a few bodies up there — a German climber and a Chinese who died on the same day. They are planning to get them down but they will have to wait until next season now as there is no opportunity to climb any more.”

Despite the horror stories, most of those interviewed by The Times this week insisted that there was still a sense of chivalry on the upper slopes of Everest — at least among those climbers with the experience and skills to assist others in difficulty. “The brotherhood of the rope does still exist,” Mr Jenkins said. “But people have to be in a certain state to be rescued. If somebody is immobile then it may simply not be possible to carry them down.”

But people like Mr O’Brien, who abandoned his summit attempt to help someone else, cannot be sure of any recognition — not even from the person whose life has been saved. “The following day I met him on the fixed ropes going down to Camp Three, and then again at base camp. He could only remember parts of what had happened,” he said.
Al Evans on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to ablackett: Horrific, both the sums of money and the lack of morals described.
becauseitsthere - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to ablackett:
Well done David O'Brien
CorR - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to ablackett: Like a boss. Faith in high altitude restored.
highclimber - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to ablackett: without wanting to denigrate what this man did, which is fantasic by the way. One man doing the right thing doesn't put right the wanton disregard of the sanctity of life by others. I hope there will be lessons learned from this years season. or maybe i'm just too optimistic!

Jubjab - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to highclimber: Hardly. The fact that people died will most probably have the opposite efftect. Deaths means that Everest is still dangerous and exciting, and summiting means bragging rights for life.
highclimber - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to Jubjab:
> (In reply to highclimber) Hardly. The fact that people died will most probably have the opposite efftect. Deaths means that Everest is still dangerous and exciting, and summiting means bragging rights for life.

If I ever met anyone that bragged about summitting everest I'd give them a smack
mgco3 - on 02 Jun 2012
In reply to ablackett: To David O'Brien.. We could do with a few more of you. I hope that if I was ever in the same situation I would be able to act in the same manner.

I also think that somone should publish the names of the Polish climbers guides and companions in the hope that they are subject to scorn for the rest of their days for abandoning a friend/colleague to his fate..
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to highclimber:

Yes, I'm sure you would
eschaton - on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to mgco3: asian trekking seems to be the related company, way to celebrate their 30th anniversary...
eddi on 03 Jun 2012 - afni126.neoplus.adsl.tpnet.pl
How David O'Brien realised that this climber was a Pole? From slurred, unrecognisable response?
Please, specify.
Conan - on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to eddi:
> How David O'Brien realised that this climber was a Pole? From slurred, unrecognisable response?

After a couple of months on the mountain, you meet and talk to most of the other teams at the various camps so even fully kitted up, you may recognise someone like this.
martinph78 on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to eddi: Many climbers have a flag sewn on their kit/suit.

I always ask "what happened to his team"? There is a lot of slating of peiople walking past injured climbers on everest, yet I read very little slating about the team that left them there in teh first place. This forum especially!

If you are in a team you stay as a team, and help each other. It's not any other persons or teams responsability to look after you. I wouldn't expect another climber to give up tehir summit attempt to help me off the mountain. I would however expect my own team to do so.

We go up as a team, we come down as a team. That's how I've always climbed/hiked/cycled whatever.
martinph78 on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to highclimber: Don't see the point in that comment?

I have met someone who summited everest and found him to be a hugely inspirational person who contributed a small part to my life.

Not sure why people who have no interest in everest feel the need to comment on everest threads? Some of us would love to summit everest. Me included.


spooky - on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to highclimber: I think that most people who summit everest would not brag about it, some may have sponsorship deals and so have commitments to talk about it, others would just celebrate with family and friends on their return. I don't think that you can tar everyone with the same brush, inevitable their will be a minority that may use what they have done as bragging rights. But does that make them bad people or someone who is proud of what they have achieved?

Ours is not to judge.
mr pointy on 05 Jun 2012 - client-86-31-130-195.oxfd.adsl.virginmedia.com
In reply to ablackett: well at least some kind of good story to end the everest season with i suppose not a year to remember really is it but these high death tolls i fear may become the norm in these crowded times on there
Goucho on 05 Jun 2012
In reply to mr pointy: If you look at it the other way, bearing in mind the lack of real quality mountaineering credentials of most of the people on Everest these days, I think it's a miracle that the death toll isn't much higher!
ads.ukclimbing.com
Enty - on 05 Jun 2012
In reply to Martin1978:
> (In reply to highclimber) Don't see the point in that comment?
>
>
> Not sure why people who have no interest in everest feel the need to comment on everest threads? Some of us would love to summit everest. Me included.

I've no interest in Everest but I'm very interested to know what can go so wrong in someone's mind to eneble them to step over a dying human to get to the top of a mountain, which in this case just happens to be Everest.

Cheers

E


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