Sir Edmund Hillary joins in the Everest controversy

by Alan James In the rush to summit Everest over the last few weeks, the tragic story of David Sharp from Teeside, may have got missed by some. Mr Sharp was climbing solo on a busy summit day – Wednesday 17th. He was descending after reaching the summit when he became ill and took shelter some 300m below the summit. Despite then subsequently being passed by possibly as many as 40 people, Mr Sharp died later that day and his body was found by others descending from the summit. This has ignited a storm of controversy not least on the UKC Forums. The morality question of whether to push on to the summit has been around in mountaineering for years. Some are in no doubt about what action should have been taken. On the web site Sir Edmund Hillary has openly criticised those who walked passed the struggling David Sharp. “We would have definitely abandoned the ambition to reach the summit in order to get the other person to safety.” Sir Edmund added that climbing Mt Everest was becoming too commercial and some restrictions were needed. “It is just ridiculous having 15 or 20 or 30 expeditions all attempting the mountain at the same time.” One man who has come in for particular criticism is Mark Inglis, the first double amputee to climb Everest. Speaking to the Close Up programme on New Zealand television, Mr Inglis said, “The trouble is that at 8,500m it is extremely difficult to keep yourself alive, let alone keep anyone else alive. It was like ´What do we do?´ We couldn´t do anything. He had no oxygen, no proper gloves, things like that.”