In a season of mountaineering that has witnessed at least twelve fatalities, a Nepali guide gave up his client’s attempt to summit Everest to save a Malaysian climber.
A Chinese client was being led to the peak’s 8,849 meters (29,032 feet) by Gelje Sherpa, who also intended to let him paraglide back down.
Instead, they found a lone man huddled on a rope and shivering in the “death zone” just a few hundred meters from the top.
Because of the thin air, chilly temperatures, and low oxygen levels that increase the danger of altitude sickness, the region above 8,000 meters has acquired its name. It is also infamous for having challenging terrain.
“When I found him in that state, my heart did not let me leave him there,” Sherpa told AFP.
Many other climbers had walked past the man that day, but he declined to criticise them.
“It is a place where you have to think of your survival first,” he said.
Sherpa told his client — who will have paid at least $45,000 to attempt Everest, including a permit fee of $11,000 — to return without a summit.
“When I decided to go down, my client did not agree at first. Of course, he was there after spending a lot of money, it must have been his dream for years and he had to find time to come here to climb.
“He got angry and said he wanted to go to the summit.
“I had to scold him and tell him that he has to descend because he was my responsibility and I couldn’t send him to the summit on his own. He got upset.”
He explained that he wanted to take the sick man down the mountain.
“Then he realised that by ‘rescue’ I meant that I wanted to save him. He understood and then he apologised later.”