Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The dark side of the mountain

An outraged Sir Edmund Hillary responds to the recent tragedies on Mt. Everest.

Mount Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary said Wednesday he was shocked that dozens of climbers left a British mountaineer to die during their own attempts on the world's tallest peak.

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.

"Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain," Hillary was quoted as saying in an interview with New Zealand Press Association.

40 people saw this guy and NO ONE HELPED HIM? That's awful. Several years ago, I ran the last 20 miles of the Boston Marathon as a training run for the San Diego Marathon. It was the second worst running experience of my life (first worst? let's just say that "runner's runs" isn't a myth). It was a hot day, I started out way too fast, I was completely unprepared for the hills, and I hit the wall HARD. I felt miserable. About 16 miles in, I caught up to a wheelchair racer struggling with an uphill. The guy must have been in pretty bad shape, because the wheelchairs get a head start and we slow runners never even see them. I knew I should offer to push him up the hill to help him out, but did I? No. I honestly felt like I was going to collapse at any minute, and I didn't think I had the excess energy to expend pushing some dude I didn't know. Plus, I was afraid I might offend him by asking him if he needed help. And guess what? I've regretted it ever since. I should have asked. He could have said no if he didn't want the help, but I don't think he would have. So what if it wore me out and I was unable to finish my training run? It was just a training run. Don get me wrong, I don't feel that bad about it. I'm sure the guy ended up finishing, and it's not like he was DYING or anything. But it depresses me to think that 40 people ignored a man in mortal danger because they were so focused on their own personal goal of climbing Mt. Everest.

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