With climbing season open from March to May, Mount Everest has seen an influx of climbers hoping to make the summit. But not everyone makes it to the top.
A Nepali guide, Gelje Sherpa, executed a ‘very rare’ high-altitude rescue on Mount Everest, saving a Malaysian climber from danger while guiding another client up the mountain.
According to Reuters, the Malaysian had been found clinging to a rope and suffering from severe cold in the perilous “death zone,” an area on the mountain where temperatures can plummet to minus 30 degrees Celsius or below.
The rescue mission
Gelje Sherpa, also the youngest climber to summit Mt. K2 in winter according to his Instagram bio, managed to bring the climber down from the Balcony area to the South Col, a descent of approximately 600 meters, over a span of roughly six hours.
Gelje, driven by his strong Buddhist beliefs, convinced his Chinese client to abandon his pursuit of the summit and descend the mountain, emphasizing the importance of saving a life.
Nima Tahi Sherpa, another guide, joined the rescue effort at this point.
In a video Gelje shared on his Instagram, the climber he saved can be seen wrapped in a sleeping bag and carried on his back until they reached a campsite on the mountain.
He said in a caption, “You may all be wondering where is the summit photo? Unfortunately no summit yet. At the Balcony during our summit push around 8,300m I saw someone in danger. A man who needed rescuing and no one else was helping.
“I made the decision to cancel our clients summit push so that I could bring him down to safety before he died up there alone.”
A rescue helicopter successfully transported the climber down to base camp from the campsite at an elevation of 7,162 meters.
Gelje added, “I will be back up the mountain soon after regaining energy from a huge task but I am so happy to say he is alive and recovering in hospital.”
The Malaysian climber’s identity was not disclosed in the video and by the company that facilitated the logistics for the climber, Seven Summit Treks.
The climber was flown back to Malaysia last week.
Department of Tourism official, Bigyan Koirala, expressed the rarity and difficulty of such a rescue operation at such a high altitude.
In a separate video, Gelje also shared scenes of the “death zone” where many abandoned tents have been left behind.
Everest takes more victims
In recent weeks, tragedy struck as Awang Askandar Ampuan Yaacub, the director of Kedah Civil Defence Force, died ascending Mount Everest.
In another distressing incident, Muhammad Hawari Hashim, a Malaysian climber participating in the Everest 2023 expedition, who is a person with a disability (PWD), is now feared to have become lost during his descent from Camp 4 after successfully reaching the pinnacle of the world’s highest peak.
Efforts to locate Hawari are still in progress, with the addition of drone technology to aid in the search.
This year’s climbing season saw record issuance of 478 permits – a record high – for Everest by Nepal.
Tragically, at least 12 climbers lost their lives on Everest’s slopes, marking the highest death toll in eight years, and five others are still reported missing.
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