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Everest fatality silence mystery solved: British David Sharp left to die by 40 climbers

Posted: May 23, 2006 06:58 am EDT

You have seen our stories and comments, latest in yesterday's wrap-up from Everest: "More fatalities have been mentioned, without details. Apparently, climbers on the mountain say they don't want to upset the families."

For years, ExplorersWeb has been fighting the silence surrounding some deaths in the mountains. Each time, we have been told that the secrecy is only a concern for the victims' families and we have no respect.

Time after time, it has turned out that the hush has served much less noble agendas: To cover up foul play in mountains without law.

David and Vitor

The latest case is British David Sharp. David vanished on his summit bid last week, and the only reason the world knew was thanks to a blog entry by his team mate Vitor Negrete. Vitor dispatched that David had died, and reported 3 more climbers missing on the mountain. He was distraught by the situation, including the fact that his high camp had been robbed. "All these events have affected me deeply â I even considered calling the attempt off," he said. The next day, Vitor was dead.

In fact already last year, young Polish climber Marcin Miotk found several of his camps emptied in his lone climb of the mountain late in the season. Like the Brazilians, the unguided climber ascended without supplementary oxygen and his life was jeopardized by the thefts.

Marcin summited and survived against the odds, but made a call at ExplorersWeb: "I got my summit and I will probably not visit Everest North Side again. But I care for other climbers' lives. So I wonder what we can do together - to change this?"

Washington Times got the answers

What can we do? Just what Marcin did. Death is a fact, but silence is the cancer. We must all speak up, ask questions and raise hell.

There were details of Vitor's accident in Brazil media within the day. But nobody would talk about David. Now, American Washington Times have some answers: David was left to die - by 40 climbers.

David Sharp, 34, was still alive at 28,000 feet. Double amputee Mark Inglis, told the news source: "He was in a very poor condition, near death. We talked about [what to do for him] for quite a lot at the time and it was a very hard decision. About 40 people passed him that day, and no one else helped him apart from our expedition. Our Sherpas (guides) gave him oxygen. He wasn't a member of our expedition, he was a member of another, far less professional one."

Find the full Washington Times story in the links section.

Today, New Kerala received an official report from Beijing: The China Tibet Mountaineering Association reported that three mountaineers from Russia, France and Brazil have died on the north side of Mt. Everest: Plyushkin Igor, Vitor Negrete, and an "unidentified French climber". In fact, Russian Igor Plyushkin is the 10th confirmed casualty in the Everest area this year.

So far, the north side has claimed 6 climbers, and the south side 3 plus one on the Lhotse face.

May 18, Brazilian climber Vitor Negrete perished on descent after a no 02 summit. Vitor climbed alone but managed to call his sherpa who went up and helped him to camp 3, where Vitor later died of altitude.

Vitor died only 2 days after learning that his team mate British David Sharp had vanished on his summit bid. Both climbers were outfitted by Asian trekking, and climbing the north side. Asian Trekking has not yet provided information on the time, location or cause of David Sharp's death.

May 16, Swedish Tomas Olsson died on Everest North face in an attempt to ski down the Norton couloir with team mate Tormod Granheim. Tomas' snow anchor broke loose at a rock outcrop section and he fell from 8500 meters. Tormod free climbed down after his mate but found only gear scattered around. Tomas body was discovered by a Sherpa at 6700 meters Saturday. Both climbers were unguided, sharing permit with an international group organized by Arun Treks & Expeditions.

This past weekend, French climber Jacques-Hugues Letrange died on descent from the summit. The French mountaineer had climbed Everest from its North side with his wife Caroline. No details have been released.

April 21, three Sherpas died in the Everest south side icefall, due to a massive serac collapsing: Ang Phinjo Sherpa was hired by IMG, Lhakpa Tseri and Dawa Temba were employed by Asian Trekking on an expedition listed as led by Douglas Tumminello & Apa Sherpa (Team No Limit) climbing the south side.

April 7, an un-named Sherpa reportedly working for "an American team" on Everest north side became ill in ABC and died in BC.

May 5, Czech climber Pavel Kalny fell to his death on the Lhotse wall (shared route with Everest south side). Pavel Kalny climbed with seasoned Czech climber Martin Minarik at the time of the fall. Pavel was found the next day by a team of Sherpas and a Chilean doctor who helped him down, but the climber died short of camp 3. Details from Martin are expected this week.

In terms of fatalities, the 2006 Everest season is now second only to the 1996 spring season which claimed 12 lives.

Check the Washington Times article for the full story (links section).

#Mountaineering #Opinion #classic

Image of Vitor Negrete holding a Brazilian flag in BC, courtesy of Try On Go Outside Everest expedition (click to enlarge).