May 23, 2006

Edmund Hillary blames climbers for Everest death

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Edmund Hillary, the first man to
climb Mount Everest, has blamed the commercialization of
climbing the world's highest mountain for the death a British
climber, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

New Zealand's Hillary, who conquered the summit in May 1953
with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, said he would have abandoned his
own summit bid if another climber's life had been in danger.

"I think the whole attitude toward climbing Mount Everest
has become rather horrifying," The New Zealand Herald newspaper
quoted him as saying.

"The people just want to get to the top. They don't give a
damn for anybody else who may be in distress."

British climber David Sharp died on the mountain last week,
apparently after reaching the summit and getting into
difficulty on the way down, while several parties -- including
that of New Zealand's Mark Inglis who became the first double
amputee to reach the 8,850 meter (29,035 foot) peak -- passed
him by.

"On my expedition there was no way you would have left a
man under a rock to die," said Hillary.

"It simply would not have happened. If you have someone who
is in great need and you are still strong and energetic then
you have a duty really to give all you can to get the man down
and getting to the summit becomes secondary."

There have been nine deaths this year on Everest according
to mountaineering Web site In 2005, a
record 101 expeditions tackled Everest, while the 2006 season
will see 82 teams attempting climbing the mountain.

Inglis told New Zealand television earlier that about 40
people had passed Sharp on their way to the summit, while his
party was the only one that stopped to check on him.

"On that morning, over 40 people went past this young
Briton. I radioed and (expedition manager) Russ said: 'Mate you
can't do anything. He's been there X number of hours without
oxygen, he's effectively dead'. So we carried on," he said.