Every May I enjoy watching the Mount Everest climbing season unfold. This year seems to be a pretty harsh year. There is a lot of buzz on this story, about a climber essentially left to die by passers-by. Sir Edmund Hillary himself has chastised the climbers who did not try to save David Sharp.
I think most people who are interested in Mount Everest understand the situation is much more complex than that. Mr. Sharp was trying to summit the mountain alone and he knew the risks associated with that. He knew that rescue at that elevation was virtually impossible. Many people die going down that mountain in normal circumstances. To assist someone who is disabled by altitude sickness and frostbite who is that high on the mountain would take the concerted efforts of dozens of people, if it was possible at all.
Rather than asking why people walked by this poor man it is better to save a step and ask why he had put himself in this situation in the first place. This is a question we can answer: he was doing what he loved. He was pushing the limits and he knew the risks. I suspect that Mr Sharp held no ill-will towards the people going up the mountain that day. It’s a sad thing but, in my opinion, understandable. You don’t go up that mountain and expect someone else to bring you back down. That seems to be the rule of Everest these days.