Sir Edmund Hillary angry with mountaineers who left British climber to die

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealand mountaineer and explorer, is angry with 40 mountaineers, including Mark Inglis, the first double amputee to reach the summit of Mount Everest, who left a British climber to die. Sir Edmund was the first person to climb Mount Everest, in 1953.

David Sharp, 34, who had reached the summit of Everest after two other unsuccessful attempts, ran out of oxygen on his way back. Sharp was found 305 meters below the summit, in a cave. He had apparently climbed alone.

According to Inglis, he was the first of 40 people to pass David Sharp, and his party was the only one that offered help. He radioed in to his base camp, but his expedition manager, "Russ," said, "Mate, you can't do anything. He's been there X number of hours without oxygen, he's effectively dead."

"The trouble is, at 8,500 metres it's extremely difficult to keep yourself alive, let alone keep anyone else alive," Inglis told Television New Zealand.

Hillary faulted commercialisation of the mountain for the climber's death, saying that had a fellow climber been in distress he would have helped him even if it meant abandoning his own summit quest. "I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying," The New Zealand Herald newspaper quoted him as saying. "The people just want to get to the top. They don't give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress."

Hillary said that heading for the summit and letting people lie dying is not pleasant and he hopes it is not repeated.

Sharp's parents, for their part, said that they do not blame Inglis, or anyone else for their son's death; the other climbers had to look after themselves.

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This audio file was created from the text revision dated 2006-05-24 and may not reflect subsequent text edits to this report. (audio help)