Inglis hits back at Sir Ed
25 May 2006
By CHALPAT SONTI AND NZPA
Mark Inglis says he is gutted to be criticised by Sir Edmund Hillary for not abandoning his successful climb of Mt Everest to help a dying British climber.
Sir Edmund has said Inglis, a double amputee, and about 40 others on the mountain at the time, were wrong to leave David Sharp to die last week.
"I think Mark Inglis was a bit crazy. He put in a great battle to reach the summit, but I don't approve of the fact (that) he just rang up base camp and said `Well someone is up here, lying under a rock. What do I do about it?'," Sir Edmund told Close Up last night.
"The head of the expedition said, `Oh he's been there long enough now, he'll be dead. Don't worry about it.' That attitude to me is pathetic."
Sharp, who was climbing alone, died after becoming ill on the way back from the summit. He took shelter under a rock 300 metres below the summit. He was the seventh climber to die on Everest this season.
Inglis was one of the first men to reach him, and radioed expedition leader Russell Brice for advice. Brice decided nothing could be done to save him and the team continued.
Sir Edmund, the first man to reach the summit of Mt Everest, said he would have abandoned his climb had he come across anyone so ill on the mountain that has claimed about 150 lives.
"I think it was the responsibility of every human being. Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain.
He said his expedition would "never for a moment" have let one of the members or a group of members just lie there and die while they plugged on.
But Inglis said yesterday that Sir Edmund did not have all the facts.
"I really did nothing at all to help David because I wasn't in a position to. Some of our Sherpas and other team members were far more qualified and capable and did what they could, but to no avail.
"There were simple facts that determined whether someone was going to live or not. We had those facts, and they were facts that I'm sure Sir Edmund didn't have, and no one else did."
Inglis felt the criticism had dulled the gloss of his team's achievement. "You stick your hand up to do something and you get put in a situation where you cop criticism. If I hadn't have stuck my hand up and (had) come back quietly without saying anything . . . you bring it upon yourself. Anyone who knows me knows I wouldn't walk past someone who needed help.
"A good analogy is that if someone standing on a bridge fell into the Huka Falls, would you jump in after them? At 8500m it's phenomenally difficult just to keep yourself alive."
The mountain was "littered" with bodies of those left to their fate.
Sir Edmund declined to comment further when contacted by The Dominion Post yesterday.
Inglis will arrive back in New Zealand today