I thought this shows quite well why people might not stop - I don't think it is as easy a decision as we might think - but what upsets me is that even when they get down safely some of the people don't seem to feel guilty after the event:
The biological reality of climbing 8000m+ high mountains is that when you're in the death zone you are burning 13,000 calories a day. The lack of oxygen will have you suffering from hypoxia, it will prevent you from eating as all your blood will be diverted to keep your muscles oxygenated, you will most likely be hallucinating. You do not have a few days in the death zone, you have one day and if you have to stay overnight up on the mountain you are most likely dead anyway. You are starving, you are dying on your feet, and most people can barely manage to lift one foot ahead of the other on the ascent. If you stop to help someone and they can't walk then they are dead and any effort you make to save them could see you dead as well. It is grim, it is horrible, but that's the way it is. Oxygen bottles help but they're heavy and need to be carefully rationed. You get a trickle of extra oxygen to help you along but it is nothing like breathing seaside air.
The real problem with everest is that it's filled with amateur climbers who don't respect the mountain and the risks involved. The ethical dilemma isn't whether or not to stop and help someone on Everest. At that point it's too late. People will do what they can but unless they possess superhuman features then what they can do is very little. No one is getting carried down off the mountain. The dilemma as I see it is whether to attempt the climb in the first place, knowing that it is littered with bodies and that it's going to be filled with amateur climbers who will put themselves, their sherpas, and their fellow climbers at risk.
Watch this: BBC iPlayer - The Eiger: Wall of Death
The Torygraph today carries a picture of a queue stretching across the image of climbers on Everest. The caption describes a pair of descending climbers suffering snow blindness, delirium, and hypothermia waiting four hours for 300 ascending climbers to pass.
Anyone interested in the Eiger, or the more general history of early alpine climbing should read "The White Spider" by Heinrich Harrer.
Can't find it on line!
Big piece in today's Times.
Stats are pretty scary - not just for Everest:
Everest - total ascents since 1953: 3,684; deaths 210; fatality rate 5.7%
Nanga Parbat - total ascents since 1953: 287; deaths 61; fatality rate 22.3%
K2 - total ascents since 1950: 198; deaths 53; fatality rate 27%
Annapurna I - total ascents since 1950: 153; deaths 59; fatality rate 38%
Now these stats aren't quite what they seem because many more people will have been involved in those climbs and not made the summit; and many of these deaths will have been of people who didn't reach the summit. But it all makes the H&S scares we seem to suffer daily look pretty trivial!
Having looked into it a bit more I can see how and why people dont stop and help - mostly it is just that they are struggling themselves, the person is nearly dead and there really isnt anything they could do that wouldnt result in the death of both the stricken person and themselves.
Dying for Everest - YouTube (WARNING - not pleasant)
Having said that - have a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuCnV...eature=related
Look at 49.46 onwards when a climber is really struggling and his group do NOTHING to help, even taking pictures of him as he struggles up the ropes. Now THAT is disgusting behaviour