Warning: this is a no-edit zone…
Sometimes we see the ugliest parts of ourselves through the eyes of others and we think, I could never do that. How could anyone do that?
But in the case of David Sharp, a Brit only 34, about forty others did do that. And those of us who view the situation in retrospect are horrified by it.
You see, David Sharp was a climber, and this time, he was climbing Mount Everest. He ran into altitude problems in the “death zone” at about 28,000 feet. Low oxygen. According to AP, at least forty climbers saw the man working on his oxygen equipment and huddled under a rock. And here’s that ugliest part of us: very few of the other climbers stopped. They knew he was in trouble, but didn’t stop.
Since when is climbing to the top of a mountain more important than a human being? And what does it say about us as human beings that we’d consider reaching the top of a mountain more important than saving a man’s life–a man that, but for the grace of God, could have been us?
I read this story and it hit me like a ton of bricks. There was a time, when I would have believed that all forty people would have stopped, worked a plan, and gotten that man off the mountain. Perhaps that was the opinion of an idealist, but I don’t believe it was. We once were a society that valued human life above our personal goals and achievements. Why aren’t we now? Isn’t it sad that we aren’t now?
Some will say that there’s nothing those forty could do. Some, having reached their goal, will now make every excuse in the world to justify their decision to walk on. But when you cut through all the stuff, what you’ve got left is David Sharp on that mountain, watching his fellow climbers walk by, knowing he was going to die. Alone.
I hope and pray that the last man he saw in this life wasn’t the one who tipped his hat and walked on.
Godspeed, Mr. Sharp.
It is now just days later and a second climber, Lincoln Hall, was left for dead by his climbing party. He reached the top but coming down fell victim to oxygen deprivation. His two party members tried to help but left him to save themselves. Mr. Hall was declared dead.
The next day, an American, came upon an alive Mr. Hall and “sparked a rescue.” He’s at a camp now and doing reasonably well. According to reports, it’s another 15 miles down the mountain and Mr. Hall will have to walk or be carried. Currently, he’s suffering from memory loss, frostbite, and swelling as a result of altitude sickness.
I hope he heals sufficiently before trying that descent.
And I hope he is escorted down by one with the compassion to not declare a live man dead.
Bless the American who came upon Mr. Hall and helped him. To you, Jamie, I’ll tip my hat.