Peak Ethics…

Appalling… maybe this is why I don’t pay much attention to the news:

Climbing enthusiasts will join Mt. Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary in condemning climbers who left a British mountaineer to die during their own attempts on the world’s tallest peak. In an act of appalling indifference, more than 40 climbers reportedly filed past David Sharp as he lay dying without oxygen on the way down from the summit during a solo climb last week. reports…

The latest case is British David Sharp. David vanished on his summit bid last week, and the only reason the world knew was thanks to a blog entry by his team mate Vitor Negrete. Vitor dispatched that David had died, and reported 3 more climbers missing on the mountain. He was distraught by the situation, including the fact that his high camp had been robbed. “All these events have affected me deeply – I even considered calling the attempt off,” he said. The next day, Vitor was dead.

David Sharp, 34, was still alive at 28,000 feet. Double amputee Mark Inglis, told the news source: “He was in a very poor condition, near death. We talked about [what to do for him] for quite a lot at the time and it was a very hard decision. About 40 people passed him that day, and no one else helped him apart from our expedition. Our Sherpas (guides) gave him oxygen. He wasn’t a member of our expedition, he was a member of another, far less professional one.”

Mallory’s famous line, “Because it’s there,” always struck me as a little arch, fake on the face of it. I’ve spent enough time in the Sierras and on other mountain sides to have a different answer: “Because you’re not there.” For me there is no finer get-away than a ramble in the mountains. And I always thought the folks I ran into on the trails up there would help me if I was in a jam, as I would help them. Quasi-technical climbers, these summit tourists, must be a different breed though, a new age breed. The fact that forty could pass a dying man without giving up “their summit” to help him speaks volumes.

(Thanks to Shelley Powers for the reference point.)

Posted in Nature, People
4 comments on “Peak Ethics…
  1. That’s horrible.

  2. Winston says:

    Before I ran across your quote of it, I was already thinking taht “Because it is there” is a damn poor excuse for an adventure with an outcome like this.

  3. It would be nice if everyone acted selflessly. But I doubt there ever was a golden age of moral nobility, compared to degenerate modern times.

  4. I can see how you could infer from my post that i am hearkening back to some more noble age, Seth; but a narrower reading regarding the emergence of summit tourism and the values of the companies plying that trade is also possible. vis.

    With clients paying up to £35,000 for a chance to launch their own ascent, guides on commercial expeditions are increasingly encouraged to care only for those in their own party. Getting their clients to the summit is the main priority, and most firms market themselves on the percentage of people they got to the top the previous year. The clients also have their own selfish motivation for stepping over the still-moving bodies of other fallen climbers. They have invested a huge amount of time and money in achieving their goal, and as paying customers they demand the full attention of their guides and Sherpas.



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