Death on Everest. Would YOU have stopped climbing to save the guy?

News Item:
David Sharp, 34, died apparently of oxygen deficiency while descending from the summit during a solo climb last week.
More than 40 climbers are thought to have seen him as he lay dying, and almost all continued to the summit without offering assistance.

Our first reaction is to be appalled at the lack of concern and I'm anxious to hear from those who passed him by to hear their rationalizations. A Semper Fi sensibility hardly seems to apply to the new Everest hiking crowd. Sir Edmund Hillary observed this in his harsh criticism of the decision to put the summit above saving a life.

YET don't we ALL do this every day when we choose to distance ourselves from far more pressing global concerns where saving lives requires nothing like the efforts needed in this case? The key difference is proximity rather than ability to help. A modest Unicef contribution is more likely to save a life than attending to an oxygen deprived climber at 27000 feet in 80 below zero weather. Yet we don't have to look the malnourished kid in the face and thus we condemn and abhor the feelings of those who passed by the climber but absolve ourselves of what are probably more justified feelings of guilt for doing little in the face of great need.

It's a cruel world, right?


2 thoughts on “Death on Everest. Would YOU have stopped climbing to save the guy?

  1. Sounds like rationalizing to me.

    Sir Edmund is a member of that “Greatest Generation”. That Generation had a moral code that defined right and wrong and honorable and dishonorable. It is a code that stood by them as they saved the world.

    Sir Edmund generation wouldn’t have to think about this once before doing otherwise, the fact that we even debate this shows why we are lesser sons of greater sires.

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