Fresh claims that British climber David Sharp was alive and lucid, telling other climbers that he wanted to sleep, have reignited controversy about morals on Mt Everest.

And the debate has been stoked by another death. Thomas Weber from Germany became the 14th person to perish on Everest this season, making 2006 the worst in the peak's history.

It is the way others respond to stricken climbers that has captured the headlines after Mark Inglis, the first double amputee to climb the world's highest peak, admitted he had passed the dying Sharp.

A British-led team, Everestmax, reported in its debrief that members overheard radio communication between Base Camp and climbers who said "they had come across a near-dead climber with severe frostbite of his face and all four limbs. He had been at 8500m for at least 24 hours and all he said was that he wanted to sleep".

According to the website, that climber was Sharp, who later died after 40 climbers passed him by, including Inglis.

One of the Everestmax climbers, Andre Zlattinger, a director at Sotheby's in London, said that Sharp was discovered by a group of American climbers and was still alive.

"They gave him oxygen and tried to help him but he wanted to be left alone to sleep and was too far gone to be helped at that height."

Inglis said that by the time he saw Sharp he was "so incredibly frostbitten. He was completely rigid ... effectively dead".

He said he did "everything he could" and members of his team gave the stricken man oxygen.

It has also emerged that others tried to help the Briton.

Former Aucklander Jamie McGuiness, an Everest guide, said a Sherpa from his team had "tried to help him move for perhaps an hour".

"But he could not get David to stand alone or even stand resting on his shoulders," McGuiness told

"Even with two Sherpas it was not going to be possible to get David down the tricky sections below."

But other members of the climbing fraternity have joined Sir Edmund Hillary in criticising a prevailing attitude of reaching the summit without attempting to help a dying man.

Legendary Spanish climber Juan Juanito Oiarzabal told he was not shocked by news that so many passed Sharp by.

"That mountain turned into a circus years ago, and it's getting worse.

"Solidarity doesn't exist on Everest. Reaching the summit becomes the first and only priority. [Climbers] don't care for the rest."

Other horror stories about mountain behaviour have also surfaced. Brazilian Vitor Negrete died on Everest a couple of days after Sharp.

But before he began the summit attempt he discovered his cache of gear and food had been raided. "We have left another cache with food and gear at Camp 3 - I hope we will find that one intact," he wrote in an email.

Said "This year, Everest displayed a weakness much more dangerous than death ... lack of compassion, selfish ambition, and silence."