Read the story: Wrong to let climber die, says Sir Edmund
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This Readers' Views page is now closed. Thank you to everyone who participated.

One has to wonder where the team that Mr Sharpe set out with were in all this - surely if anyone was responsible for helping him down it was the group he set out with? And if they were unable to then a rescue team should have been deployed who would have (hopefully) had the skills and equipment to ensure Mr Sharpe's safe return to base camp. Mark Inglis is no more responsible than the other 39 climbers that day and he would have been under direction from a team leader who ultimately made the decision to push on.

- Maria

I am floored by the attitude of some of your respondents. It would seem that the "ME" generation is well established in NZ. I'm sure that the writers, if in the same predicament, would hope that someone would help....Get a life people, smell the roses, or better a life, which would probably be more rewarding than telling people at a dinner party that you climbed Everest, big deal...obviously 40 people a day do it! I'm sure the dinner party conversation on how you saved someones life while climbing Everest would be a better story to tell, even if the rescuee did eventually die!


- Gus

It was absolutely wrong to leave Sharp to die. Mountaineering (especially in the death-zone climbs) seems to have developed a culture whereby its understood that this is accepted practice. Name me another sport where this happens. When does personal sporting achievement become more important than another person's life?

- Craig Squire

Quote: "I ... radioed and [expedition manager] Russ said, 'Mate, you can't do anything. He's been there x number of hours without oxygen. He's effectively dead'. So we carried on." - Taking this tack, how would the Tasmanian miners have survived?

- Richard Clark

While I am not a mountaineer, and am not aware of all the dangers of climbing, I agree with Sir Edmund Hillary that this man should have been rescue or at least there should have been an attempt to rescue him. As New Zealanders, we are brought up to help others, especially in dire circumstances. To pass him buy is inexcusable. Kiwis often set the example to the rest of the world, i.e. anti-nuclear stance. Next time, save the man, set an example of compassion. You can get to the top later.

-Dean Shirley

Sharpes death is not the first and definitely not the last in man's relentless quest to overcome the challenge of hitting the top of the world's highest mountain. So we, the public and media, should get off our high horses of righteousness and give Inglis a break. He does not need this kind of flak right now and Sir Edmund Hillary should acknowledge his feat instaed of raising cain over it.

- Errol D'Souza

In my opinion, I agree with Sir Edmund Hillary. Sadly it's a self-interested world so with this in mind I have one question. Is there an insurance policy, perhaps 'life-threatened' or 'rescue required' that would fund a repeat attempt by rescuers of a distressed climber?

- Alison Collett

Passing a climber in trouble while continuing the ascent is almost manslaughter isn't it? 300 metres from the top - I'll bet the climber in distress could have used the oxygen that the 40 odd other people expended while continuing their climb then their descent back to where he was sheltering. And now we see a contrary view to whether Mr Sharpe would have survived or not. Where there is life there is hope. Climbing Everest is a once in a lifetime experience for the well equiped climber? Most people don't get the chance very often to save a life. Surely the price of a life is worth more than the cost of their climb? At least yachties have better morals and values - they don't leave behind those that go overboard!

- Charlie Grant

What's changed since Sir Edmund went climbing?

1)Money is now more important than someone elses life

2)Ego driven satisfaction is now more important than someone elses life

3)Listening to the manager is now more important than someone elses life

Sir Edmund is one of the greatest role models the world has ever seen, a true hero, his words speak volumes about the difference in attitude towards other people in need of help in a serious situation. Everyone makes mistakes but not everyone can learn from them. as Shaun said earlier, and as a former Surf lifesaver we were taught to respect others and the surf, but where does this respect lie for some of todays climbers?

- Dave

It was probably a bit dearer than $75K, or even 40 climbers at $75K each, to bring two Australian miners to the surface...One would think that Mr. Sharp would pay that paltry sum several times over to have a second chance at life. Wouldn't that be a debt you would be happy, to have a rest of your life, to work off?

- Karl

Mr Sharpe had attempted Everest on a previous occassion and failed. He was obviously well aware of the risks involved and as such should be soley held accountable for his own safety on the mountain or at least have a rescue plan in place. For a climber to expect others to come to his aid at thier own risk in such an inhospitable environment of his choice is a big ask, so I expect there is more to the story to be told.

- Brett

I have read about Everest, thanks to Sir Edmund Hillary and other climbers sharing their experiences, and as far as I understand "life and death" is the only basic rule over there. And as sad as it can be, Sharp's family made it clear: he knew the rule. From down here it is quite easy to be offended by a decision we would quickly judged as against human rights. Just keep in mind that you and I will certainly not have to make this decision in our life and live with it. And for that, you should be thankful. More than a climbing experience, Mount Everest ascension is a survival experience. I respect Sir E. Hillary's opinion on the event. But I can not say if Inglis and the 39 other climbers and guides were right or wrong by leaving Sharp behind.

- Anne-Sophie Adelys

I agree that one cannot blame Mark Inglis himself as he was also just another climber, the responsibility I feel is with the team leaders and the sherpas that are with the climbers on the mountain as they are the ones with all the climbing experience and as Sir Ed said someone could have at least tried.

- Scott

40 people passed this person. 40 people decided, in the circumstances, that they could do nothing to help. They were on the spot, we were not.

The only person who, it appears, did try to help was a man with no legs. The only person copping flak is a man with no legs. Come on people, let's give him a fair go!

- Eric West

It is just a peak which one can try for another day. A life is lived but once.

- Jim

There is no shock to this story as this is just the way most people are in normal sociaty. I stopped to apply CPR to a man as other people were walking over us (about 40) in an attempt to maintain their appointments with lunches, etc, as I was pleading with someone to call an ambulance. Finally an off duty policeman came to my asstistance. So its plain to see 1 out of 40 ain't bad odds...but on a mountain full of "heros" its all yellow.

- Wayne

If I was the climber's family I would be absolutely livid with all of the climbers...not simply forgive them. It is about your own survival but they didn't even have to risk their lives to save him, all they were risking was missing out on their chance to get to the top!!

- Nicola

Fact is, nobody can judge a decision made at 25,000' on the world's highest peak when you weren't there. It's all too easy to sit at a computer and say Mark Inglis made a wrong and un-Kiwi like decision. However I ask where was Mr Sharpes team? How did he run out of oxygen 300m from the summit? I respect Sir Edmund's opinion as he is more than qualified to comment and also as they are the comments which show the true Kiwi attitude and heart. I also feel that the decision made by the expedition manager to leave the man would not have been easy for Mark Inglis and he would have done so with a heavy heart. Life and death in these extreme circumstances are sealed by such hard decisions, go foward, go back, leave or take etc...Condolences to the family of David Sharpe, I'm just glad that the same doesn't have to be sent to the family of Mr Inglis.

- Timmy

How did Mr Inglis get off Mt Cook?? No doubt people went out of their way and put themselves in danger (for him)!

- Bernard

Maybe the new Everest is for someone to be the good samaritian at 8000m, forsake the summit and restore hope to a dying climber. The immensely qualified Sir Edmund succintly covers it with "You can try, can't you?"

- Gareth McCabe

Having read Jon Krakauer account of the 1996 climbing season - during which NZ'er Rob Hall died - Everest seems a wholly unhospitable place, and without the right equipment, things can be all but useless. I can understand the desire to get to the summit, the problem of keeping oneself going, let alone assisting another. I do not condemn Inglis' party for carrying on. Climbing (Everest) is not without its risks. Having said that, I wonder what might have been the bigger news story. "Double amputee reaches summit", or "Double amputee ditches summit attempt to comfort/save fellow climber".

- Hadon Westerby

Sir Ed is quite right. Of course its unfair to single out Mark Inglis. But he and the other climbers have totally lost the plot in putting personal goals before the instinct to help others. Who's to say David Sharp would not have survived anyway? What about Beck Weathers, who survived after being left for dead unconscious and half-buried in snow for 14 hours on Everest in 1996? And Joe Williams (see "Touching the Void") left for dead in the Andes but who lived to tell the tale?

Climbing Everest in such circumstances may be a personal triumph but not at all heroic.

- DS

There is no way that 40 people didn't have enough oxygen to assist David Sharp. All for what? Climbing up a rock that you can stand on for 5 minutes. It would have been a far greater achievement to save a man's life and just as great if you tried and failed. Todays climbers are obviously not someone to respect and or admire if that is the prevailing attitude to life. Ego before humanity is not how we should live. Thank heavens our Surf Lifesavers don't hold a similar philosophy.

- Shaun

Stop trying to pin it all on Inglis. Where was the team of that climber? It appears that his own team left him first, in what I assume was a better condition than he was in by the time Inglis' party went past him the next morning. If an rescue was to be attempted it should have been done the day before. It is a different world at that altitude, and we cannot pass judgement when we were not there, and dare I say it, but things have changed since Sir Ed climbed it.

- Dianna

Would Mark Inglis have been a bigger hero had he and his team stayed and died as did Rob Hall? The team stopped, assessed, made contact with experts and in ferocious conditions; made the best decision possible. Like any high risk situation, you would have to be there to judge. First Aid is not helpful when the First Aider also risks his life. And finally, congratuations to Mark and his team, what a fantastic achievement!

- Linda

I wonder if they remember Rob Hall's actions in 1996? Although I don't completely agree with Rob Hall's decision to stay with his client risking his own life and eventually losing it, I understand his motives which I believe were exemplary. These climbers who left Sharp to die were in nothing like the same extreme situation Hall was in - there would have been much less risk of losing their own lives in a rescue attempt. The danger faced in a rescue situation to your own safety is something one must re-evealuate constantly - they should have at least tried to rescue the dying climber and if it turned out they were in increasing danger, they could have abandoned the attempt when appropriate.

- Andrew Reynolds

While most of us will cringe a bit at the latest news, you must keep in mind that this was a snap decision. In such climates, it is impossible to judge how badly off Sharp was. When Inglis and the others learned of the expedition manager's call, they had to accept it and go on. To share oxygen could easily drain the reserves of the other climbers, which would effectively put the other climbers at risk. Thus, this was a justified decision. On the other hand, hindsight is 20/20, and it now seems like Sharp could have been saved. But the decision had been made; a sound judgement call in my mind. Also, it has to be noted that Inglis did call the expedition manager. There was intent for Inglis to help Sharp in good Kiwi fashion. But the expedition manager, NOT Inglis made the call of leaving Sharp there.

- Ryan Carleton

Risking your party to attempt to comfort a man who was living and dying his dream is admirable. However, and with the greatest respect to Sir Edmund, to: i) reverse the decision made by forty other climbers, ii) go against the radio advice of the team manager who was monitoring the situation, and iii) also increase the risk for your party who was at their limits to achieve their goals; would have been foolhardy.It is difficult for any of us sitting in our comfortable homes and offices to judge the decisions made men suffering at the extremes of fatigue at the top of the world. We should celebrate their achievement and feel for the family of a man who pushed his limits just that one step too far. Afterall, Inglis is the most qualified NZer when it comes to understanding the consequences of pushing that one step too far. Well done Mark and your team.

- Andrew

I really agree with Sir Edmund Hillary. If you see a person in his boat sinking, and you are running for a contest on the sea. Would you just ignore it because you want to reach the goal-line with your own boat? Or, if you are diving and you meet another person below the surface who need some oxygen. Would you just swim another way and not share yours?

- Zora from Norway

Every person who attempts to summit Everest knows the risks - there have been seven deaths up there so far this year alone. It is one of mankind's biggest physical challenges. I do not applaud the decision of those 40 climbers to leave the British climber to die and cannot imagine the circumstances that would have caused this. I think that that is partially the point - most of us cannot relate to those extreme circumstances. Sir Edmund has been there, however, and if he thinks that what's happened is inexcusable then perhaps all those other climbers have got their priorities wrong.

- JP

When I first read the story of Mr Inglis accending Mt Everest on artificial legs I was very moved and impressed by what I considered a formidable show of character and determination. On finding that him and his party left a fellow climber to die under a rock in order to achieve a fleeting triumph I now feel only repulsion and disbelief. Maybe Mr Sharp's life could have been saved given that with 40 people in the area there surely would have been enough man-power and oxygen to at least attempt to get him down safely. And if he was beyond saving what does it take to keep a dying person company, to offer the last kind word and the last touch of a human hand to somebody scared, bewildered and far away from his loved ones.I know what I would prefer to remember for the rest of my life. Its certainly not that I walked past a dying person for a brief moment of glory

- Bettina Reiter

I hope they really enjoyed the view; they paid far more than $75k for it.

- Michael Cranna

Mark Inglis' feat is a hollow achievement, maybe to be revered for his strength and tenacity but to be reviled for his lack of human decency and selfishness. Hillary's initial achievement made us proud, but has since been dwarfed by his ongoing work in Nepal, that's worth hero status.

- Frank

If Inglis had rescued Sharp and shared his oxygen instead of continuing to the summit of mount Everest, sure he would have lost his $75,000 'entry fee' but what is the cost of a life? I'm pretty sure most of New Zealand would have chipped in for a fund that would allow Inglis to attempt to climb a piece of rock again.

- Sarah

I think it was wrong to not save the dying climber but also the finger should not be pointed at Mark. He was one of the followers in the team and the decision to do anything would have been of the guide. There were alot of experienced climbers on the team and many who have been to the top already.

- JT

I don't care how much it has cost people to climb Mt Everest, if it were my brother, father or friend up there and I found out people didn't stop to help due to the fact they had spent $75,000 to climb the mountain, I would be gutted.

- Stephanie Martin

To just walk pass Sharp and not help him makes one think about what one would do if in the same circumstances. Something few of us can relate to or pass comment on. I do not think today's situations can be compared to Sir Edmund Hillary's time. The word camaraderie has a different meaning these days - especially where $75,000 is involved. And one should note as part of jouney management, before even thinking about embarking on the assent of Everest, there is an invisible sign at base camp - that at the end the day you are on your own, you climb at your own risk and if one thinks or expects that there maybe help at 25,000 feet then they are truly amongst the fairies and should consider staying at home.

- Paul Lawrence

I wonder how those who risked themselves to rescue Mark and his partner from the mountains are feeling about his reaction when the tables were turned.

- Barb

I congratulate Sir Edmund Hilary for his comments and strong conviction. It's never right to leave someone to die and just walk on by, they should have done everything in their power to help that man, futile or not. Mark Inglis is no hero to me.

- T Johnson

I've climbed Kilimanjaro and know firsthand that even at 6000m with no oxygen breathing is difficult. But the idea of abandoning someone to die so that I could reach any summit is unthinkable. Who cares about the high commercial stakes or the cost of the trip? How much is a life worth anyway?

- Phil Pawley

Simple he was wrong wrong wrong, what if the role was reversed? He was more interested in his own glory. Ego is a two edged sword and in this case it has its ugly side. It would have been different if it had put the rest of the team in mortal danger to attempt a rescue, but to go on regardless is reprehensible and very un-kiwi.

- Logan

If it is more important to climb Everest than to save someone's life, then what about climbing K2? Is that more important? And if that is more important, then what about climbing Mt. Cook? Or Mt. Eden? Or the steps from the carpark to the supermarket?

- Philip Palmer

It's wrong to pass judgement on this matter sitting in the warm in front of a computer screen, however, it is astonishing that a seemingly natural instinct to help others didnt kick-in with at least a few of the climbers who passed this man. It's obviously all about money, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

- Kent Oldham

Of course they were wrong to not offer assistance. It's just a sign of the society we live in now. Personally I think these idiots should be all barred from climbing in to one of the most unforgiving places on earth. Why should they eventually put rescuers lives in danger.

- Paul

I think Edmund Hilary is correct, all these people ticking off their expensive list of things to do have totally lost it. What is the point in getting to the top of a stupid mountain if you leave someone to die. You have conquered Everest and lost your humanity. I would have thought Mark Inglis was a hero if he gave up his quest and helped this guy down. Heroes are people who do small things to make the world better. Edmund Hilary is a hero because of his work with the sherpas not because he climbed a stupid hill.

- Lucy

It takes a lot of selflessness to make the decision to give up a dream (as well as a significant amount of planning and money) on a one in a thousand (?) chance of saving a complete stranger. I can't blame the other climbers for not helping, but I can regret the societal values that make their decision understandable.

- Barbara

I did not realise that a climber had died and Mark and his team had made the decision not to help. What I thought was an amazing accomplishment by an incredible New Zealander, I now think is an apalling lack of humanity. Where the hell was his sense of humanity and just basic right and wrong? I felt a lot of patriotic pride in being a kiwi that day, tears welled in my eyes when I saw the report on the news that evening, now I am saddened, disgusted and sickened, I cannot fathom leaving another human being to die.

- Amanada

I agree with both sides of the argument. That is with Sir Hillary and Mr Inglis. It is very easy for us to judge from the outside of what 'coulda', 'shoulda', 'woulda' happened , however, it is a judgement call and one very difficult one to make at that. It is not too dissimilar a dilemma to one in a drowning situation where that poor Tongan family lost a father who saved his son earlier this year. Do you attempt to risk your own life to save someone else who is trouble or do you do as much as you can from your position on the beach and save your own? On the other hand, if there are 40 people passing him on that mountain, could they not all have shared the burden of helping this poor British climber?

- Nevaeh

It makes no difference how another man got into a situation, it is another human's duty to help that person. There are cases in hospital every day where someone is terminally ill but everything possible is done to keep them alive for longer or give them a slim chance of survival. Mark was rescued himself and owes his own life to the brave efforts of others.

- Steve

Each one of the 40 climbers that passed Sharp could have chosen to help rather than decide he probably couldn't be saved or that it was someone else's responsibility. To have the chance to perhaps save someone's life or to finish the last bit of a climb. Hillary is exactly right about what the priority should be.

- J Daugherty

I am sad and horrified that climbers have come to this. To leave a man to die in order to achieve something so commercial as the summit of an often climbed peak is shameful, and shame on all those who passed him or who claim that doing so is somehow okay. People often risk their lives, and sometimes give their lives for others, in many walks of life and in many environments... it is amazing that climbers think they are the only ones who face danger, hardship, discomfort and fear in their chosen activity. They are not.

- Bob Orton

Absolutely abysmal that people that are climbing a summit continue in the knowledge that they have left a man to die in pursuit of their dream and the money they paid to try and achieve it. I'm sure that money was the winning point in their decision and that's sick. They could have been repaid 10 fold in doing what is right instead. I agree with Sir Edmund Hilary. How could anyone of those 40 people do it. I understand there is a climbers code to save oneself and that it is all part of the risk of climbing. However, I do not see that as an excuse to walk by, they were climbing up! They must have had a good deal of oxygen with them still to get themselves up. I frankly hope they are all absolutely ashamed of themselves!

- Sarah Orr

No. It was not the right thing to do. But in saying this it is unfair to single this one person (Mark Inglis) out and associate his name as being the one that left the dying man on the mountain. Why not list the other 39 people that also left this man to die.

- Hayden

This might be a good time to set up a set of protocols for Everest climbers. It is the experienced guides who I believe could have helped David Sharp - not Mark Inglis.

- Rosalind Donald

Of course they should have tried to help the poor guy. All forty of the climbers who went past were wrong.

- Judy Bethell

I know Mark very well. If he had been able to rescue this man he would have. Cleary the British climber had sadly, for what ever reason, got himself into a critical and unrecoverable situation. People seem to be focusing on Mark. I wonder where the British Climbers team were?

- Norm Wilson