A Nepali guide, who was about to reach the top of the Everest with a climber who had hired his services, gave up the summit to saving an endangered Malaysian mountaineer in the “death zone”in a particularly deadly season finale on the “Roof of the World.”
Hello Sherpa30, was guiding a Chinese client to the top of the world’s highest mountain – 8,849 meters – and planned to help him paraglide down.
But when they were a few hundred meters from the summit, they discovered, more than 8,000 meters altitude, at a man alone, shivering with cold and clinging to a rope, in the famous “death zone”a technically difficult pass where the air is scarce and the frigid temperatures increase the risk of altitude sickness.
That day other mountaineers had passed in front of the Malaysian, without helping himbut the guide did not want to judge them.
“It’s a place where, first of all, you have to think about your survival,” he explained. However, Gelje Sherpa did not hesitate to tell his client that had paid at least $45,000 for the expeditionthat they would not reach the summit of Everest.
“When I decided to descend, my client did not agree at first. Obviously, he had gotten there after spending a lot of money, he had been dreaming about it for years, he had to find the time to come and climb here,” the Sherpa said.
“He got angry and said he wanted to reach the top. I had to scold him and remind him that he had to go down because he was under my responsibility, that he couldn’t go up to the top without me. She got mad,” she added.
The Nepali insisted on the need to help the struggling mountaineer down. “Then he realized that ‘salvage’ meant that I wanted to save him. He understood and later apologized,” he added.
The guide hooked the Malaysian up to his oxygen supply and the man got a little better, but he still had a hard time walking. The Nepali, who measures around 1.60 meters and weighs 55 kilos, had to carry it through some of the more arduous sections of the mountain.
“It is a very difficult mission to get someone down from there carrying them on their backs. But some parts are very stony, it was impossible to drag them. Something would have broken, it was not right,” said Gelje Sherpa, who stressed that it took him six hours to get him to the camp 4.
“I have participated in many search and rescue missions but this one was very difficult,” he acknowledged.
At Camp 4, another guide helped him descend with the injured climber, wrapped in sleeping bags tied with ropes. So, they were able to drag it up the snowy slopes and carry it when needed.
When they finally reached Camp 3, at 7,162 meters, a helicopter took over and transported them to the base camp. Gelje Sherpa hasn’t seen the Malaysian mountaineer since he saved him, but he did get a message of thanks.
“He wrote to me: ‘You have saved my life, you are a god to me‘” the guide said.
A high risk challenge
The mountaineering industry in the Himalayas is based on the experience of the sherpaswhich in general are native to the Everest valleys.
Beyond what they charge for their work, they pay a high price for accompanying hundreds of climbers each year: a third of those killed on Everest are Nepali guides.
“As a guide, you feel responsible for the rest on the mountain and you have to make difficult decisions,” said Ang Norbu Sherpa, president of the National Mountain Guides Association of Nepal. “what he did [Gelje Sherpa] It’s honorable,” he said.
For the 2023 season, the Nepal authorities handed over a record of 478 permits to foreign mountaineers to climb Everestand about 600 climbers and guides reached the summit.
Twelve visitors died, and five are still missing.
Gelje Sherpa, who has climbed to the roof of the world six times, does not regret his decision at all.
“People focus solely on the summit, but everyone can do it,” he considered. Instead, “lowering someone from more than 8,000 meters high is much harder”.
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