Norwegian climber denies leaving dying guide behind to break world record at K2 | World News - Hindustan Times
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Norwegian climber denies leaving dying guide behind to break world record at K2 peak

Aug 12, 2023 05:17 PM IST

Harila climbed the world's second highest mountain in July this year. She created a new world record as she climbed her 14th highest peak in over three months.

Record-breaking Norwegian montaineer Kristin Harila denied the allegations that she and her team climbed over a dying guide to reach the K2 summit in Pakistan in a bid to become the world's fastest climber to climb all the peaks over 8,000 metres.

Norwegian climber Kristin Harila, left, and her Nepali sherpa guide Tenjen Sherpa, right, who climbed the world's 14 tallest mountains in record time. (AP)
Norwegian climber Kristin Harila, left, and her Nepali sherpa guide Tenjen Sherpa, right, who climbed the world's 14 tallest mountains in record time. (AP)

Harila climbed the world's second-highest mountain in July this year. She created a new world record with her Nepali guide Tenjen (Lama) Sherpa as she climbed her 14th highest peak in a little over three months. A porter died during her trek which became a controversy.

What happened?

The porter, 27-year-old Pakistani national, Mohammed Hassan fell off a ledge, from an extremely narrow path called bottleneck, at the height of around 8,200 metres. Viral videos and photographs on social media showed a group of people walking by Hassan, who died a few hours later.

Harila now defended that her team had done everything that they could to help Hassan in such dangerous conditions.

“It's a tragic accident... here is a father and son and a husband who lost his life that day on K2. I think that's very, very sad that it ended this way,” Harila said speaking to BBC.

Austrian climbers Wilhelm Steindl and Philip Flämig who were also climbing K2 the day the incident took place have said that the duo recorded drone footage that showed climbers walking over Hassan's body instead of trying to rescue him.

Flämig told Austrian media, “He is being treated by one person while everyone else is pushing towards the summit. The fact is that there was no organised rescue operation although there were sherpas and mountain guides on site who could have taken action.”

Speaking to BBC, Steindl said, “We saw a guy alive, lying in the traverse in the bottleneck. And people were stepping over him on the way to the summit. And there was no rescue mission.”

Steindl also visited Hassan's family after descending from the peak. He found out that Hassan, despite lacking adequate experience, took the job as a rope fixer to pay for his diabetic mother's medical bill.

K2 is widely known as one of the most difficult peaks in regard to mountaineering, and is the deadliest out of the five highest mountain peaks in the world. Several experts have said that K2's topography is more difficult than Everest's since less of the peak flattens off. It is also prone to rock fall.

What Harilla said?

Harilla has told media outlets that her team tried to help Hassan but it was not possible for them to lift him back from the narrow route, which was crowded by several climbers.

She told BBC that Hassan was not a part of their team and she had not seen him fall off the ledge. She added that her team did not leave him behind once they realised he was hurt.

She also said that the company who employed Hassan — who was a part of a fixing group who were sent to secure ropes before the climbing groups — since he neither had oxygen support nor suitable clothing. She said he was not wearing gloves or a down jacket.

She said, “We were trying to save him, we did everything we could for many hours... it's a very, very narrow path. How are you going to climb and traverse and carry [a person]? It's not possible.”

She told The Telegraph, “We tried to lift him back up for an hour and a half and my cameraman stayed on for another hour to look after him. At no point was he left alone. Given the conditions, it is hard to see how he could have been saved. He fell on what is probably the most dangerous part of the mountain where the chances of carrying someone off were limited by the narrow trail and poor snow conditions.”

She told BBC that her team was safe and when she found out that more help was arriving, she decided to move ahead to avoid any overcrowding in the bottleneck. She also added that her cameraman had stayed behind in order to help until he himself ran low on oxygen. She said, “It was only when we came back down that we saw Hassan had passed and we were ourselves in no shape to carry his body down.”

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