Jamie McGuiness about David Sharp: "Crying, Dawa had to leave him"

Posted: May 24, 2006 10:37 pm EDT

"What are the responses you are getting from climbers?" asked a NZ radio reporter ExWeb today. "There are three categories," we said. "The veteran climbers are outraged, the commercial expedition leaders are silent, and the Everest climbers are confused."

Thanks to media and a few brave individuals, the deaths of Everest climbers such as David Sharp and Vitor Negrete have not been in vain. Everest is currently doing what its ultimate purpose is: Not to give us a trophy summit, but to put a mirror before our face. "Who are we" is the ultimate question that gets an answer on Mount Everest.

<b>Double treachery - death and silence</b>

The world is outraged at a double-amputee who used his carbon legs to step over a dying man to reach the summit of Everest. A story hardly gets better than that. But it's easy to forget that Mark Inglis was the only one among 40 climbers who spoke up; the rest - the ones with both legs intact - remain silent.

Many years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a simple message to the world: "Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak."

<b>They were not the charity climbers</b>

Those who spoke up on Everest were not the healthy climbers, they were not the responsible commercial guides, they were not the authorities in charge of order, and they were not the charity climbs.

They were a man without legs; and one simple climber, Vitor from Brazil, whose last desperate dispatch revealed thefts on the mountain and his climbing buddy's death. And then there was a third word; arriving from commercial guide Jamie McGuiness.

<b>"Had it not been for Jamie..."</b>

Anne Parmenter dispatched yesterday.

Our sister expedition 'The Peace Project,' summited on the 18th but have had an almost 36 hour rescue effort for one of the members. With the support of 10 of our Sherpa's and at least 8 Sherpas from the Peace Project, the member was carried in a litter all the way from the North Col. If it hadn't have been for the efforts of Jamie McGuinness and two Sherpas who managed to walk the member all the way from the summit of Mount Everest, this person would not have survived.

Only hours before, we had published the details about David Sharp, and that same morning an email from Jamie arrived. The subject:

"Pls add to your story."

<b>The Sherpa heroes</b>

Here's Jamie's testimony of the nights David and Vitor died:

"Dawa from Arun Treks also gave oxygen to David and tried to help him move, repeatedly, for perhaps an hour. But he could not get David to stand alone or even stand resting on his shoulders, and crying, Dawa had to leave him too. Even with two Sherpas it was not going to be possible to get David down the tricky sections below."

"Dawa, who did not summit because of giving his oxygen to David, told this to me less than 24 hours later when I met him on the fixed ropes. He was close to tears even then."

"At the time I thought the climber may be David Sharp, who had climbed with me twice, but it was only when I was on the way to the summit I had this confirmed when we passed him. A very sad moment. He was dead by then (18 May)."

<b>"David was far too sensible to die"</b>

"I will remember David as a strong and independent climber, for example on Cho Oyu, rather than pull on old ropes, he free-climbed a difficult section. We spent a glorious half hour eating lunch on top."

"Later when I was working as a Sherpa for the Team David was on he turned back around the Second Step with minor frostbite developing on his face. Little did he realize until later he had frostbitten feet from using plastic mountaineering boots. This time he was wearing the latest boots and was climbing with oxygen, apparently. He was strong at altitude, and I thought far too sensible to die."

"David was clean, easy company and a very likeable chap, I will miss him. I have a feeling that his personal wish may be to stay there and frighten-inspect every climber that goes by, although for the moment his face is covered by a classic Berghaus pack."

"Jamie McGuinness"

<b>"Vitor motioned he was OK"</b>

The Everest Peace Project team summitted the same day as Vitor (18 May). Jamie was at the back shepherding a climber along and they leapfrogged Vitor a few times; he seemed to be moving strongly for a no O2 ascent, says Jamie.

The team summitted ahead of Vitor but because of dramas with their climber Vitor caught up and passed them on the Second Step, "I waved him thru ahead of me so as not to slow him down. He seemed to be having an issue with his water bottle. Later we passed him, he was obviously tired but still seemed to be doing OK. He knew that he could ask us for help, I had motioned that. He motioned he was OK."

"It was just on dark and he was perhaps 200m behind us when a Sherpa went up fast to help him. We, with our tents 60m away on a windy night, knew nothing of the troubles of the night."

<i>Links to teams still on Everest North summit push:</i>
<a href=" http://www2.aerogel.com/blog/page/everest" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Bill Driggs & Anne Parmenter's Aspen Aerogels team</a> | <a href=" http://www.dcxp.com/" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> DCXP </a> | <a href=" http://www.project-himalaya.com/" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Project Himalaya </a>| <a href=" http://www.exploreyourplanet.com/reports/expeditions/everest%202006/everest2006_reports.htm" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> S. Woolums' Adventures Intl</a> | <a href=" http://www.7summits-club.com/" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Abramovs 7 Summits Club</a> | <a href=" http://www.7summits.com/" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Harry Kikstras 7 Summits</a> | <a href=" http://www.sightoneverest.com/blog/" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Thomas Webers SightOnEverest</a>

<i>Jamie, a resident of Kathmandu, has previously reported for ExplorersWeb from the heart of Maoist territory in Nepal.

Project Himalaya is made up by Jamie McGuinness (NZ), Joel Schone and Kim Bannister. Specialties are teahouse trekking in the Everest region (also climbing some peaks), Kangchenjunga region treks, trek-climbs and exploration, climbing trips in the Annapurna region, real exploratory treks and exploratory 6000m peak climbs, Tibet trips, especially Kailash and Lhasa-Everest BC-Kathmandu overland, Zanskar and Ladakh treks and trek-climbs and exploration, peak climbs of Cho Oyu (8201m) and Shishapangma (8027m). The outfit runs around 10-12 trips each year.

This year, Jamie McGuiness and Duncan Chessell have joined forces again to organize a fully supplied, guided expedition on Everests North side. The guide is Scott Woolums (Adventures International); this season Jamie is climbing director for the nearby Everest Peace Project, an international team with well over half the climbers having been on Everest before or having previously been on two 8000+m peaks. Full sherpa support.</i>
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"I have a feeling that David&#039;s personal wish may be to stay there and frighten-inspect every climber that goes by." Image of Jamie courtesy of Project Himalaya.