The Everest 2007 summit season is well underway, with many summits from both sides of the mountain. Sadly, though, the mountain has already claimed victims with 2 Korean climbers (Oh Hee-Joon and Lee Hyun-Jo) killed last week on the Southwest Face and the sad death of Pema Doma Sherpa (Sherpani) on nearly Lhotse.
On a positive note, however, my good friend and colleague Dave Hahn made a remarkable 9th (yes, ninth!) summit of Everest on May 20th. Follow all the news on Dave and International Mountain Guides' Everest Expedition here.
As I have mentioned many times in the past, teamwork, the Brotherhood of the Rope, and ethics are critical components in success on Everest. These issues have been written about all over the web, including on this blog here, here, and here.
Like most of us suspected, rescues have unfolded already this climbing season with several people making major sacrifices and putting themselves at dire risk to help others. Dave Hahn, Mike Haugen, Casey Gromm, and Mike Nixon - all from IMG - made a dramatic rescue of a Nepali woman who had been abandoned at the Balcony at roughly 27,500 feet on the Southeast Ridge. Details of this rescue are still coming in, but it sounds as if, thanks to these climbers and the medical team of the Everest Extreme Expedition, she is safe and sound.
On the Northeast Ridge, Russian climber and guide Sergey Kofanov of the Seven Summits Club organized and helped with the rescue of and Italian climber who had apparently been lying unconscious in the snow for two days at Camp VI at 8300 meters. Amazingly, reports indicate he is now recovering at Rongbuk Basecamp.
These are interesting times on Everest, times analogous to the challenges and situations we all find ourselves from time to time on our mountains. These moments of critical decision making, when our ethics are put in direct conflict with our goals, our ambition going head to head with our brotherhood of the rope, are the moments we must plan for and anticipate, but sadly can never predict.
We must, then, ask ourselves how we are prepared to respond.
Am I willing to risk my goals to help those in need?
At what point do my ethics supersede my ambition?
- Jake Norton is an Everest climber, guide, photographer, writer, and motivational speaker from Colorado.