A day after he was said to have died on the slopes of Mount Everest, there are reports that Australian climber Lincoln Hall is in fact still alive.
Expedition leader Alexander Abramoy said on Thursday that Hall had died, but a new report from DCXP, the Australian company that organized the climb, is now saying otherwise.
According to DCXP's Project Himalaya team, a climber named Dan Mazur was headed for the summit this morning when he discovered Hall alive at Everest's Second Step. The report stated that Mazur gave him hot tea and oxygen, and then used his radio to notify his expedition. Abramoy then dispatched a team of 12 Sherpas to climb to their location with fresh oxygen and a stretcher.
There was no independent confirmation of the report, however.
"They are all in good health and expect to all be down safe later today. The stretcher and five bottles of oxygen has been supplied by our team to the efforts," DCXP director David Chessell said in a statement. DCXP's expedition team consists of 14 Westerners and 12 Sherpas.
The DCXP/Project Himalaya team reported reaching Everest's summit Thursday morning. Hall, an Everest veteran and one of Australia's most renowned climbers, had fallen behind and hit the summit approximately 90 minutes later.
As he descended, accompanied by two Sherpas, Hall reportedly suddenly lost energy near what is known as the Third Step, 34,000 feet above sea level.
"Initially coherent, he quickly developed cerebral edema and began to hallucinate and refused to move down the rope. As the afternoon wore on, his two Sherpas gradually moved him to the Second Step," Chessell said in the statement.
The Sherpas told DCXP that by nightfall, their oxygen supplies were depleted and that they were blinded by the snow. They said Abramoy ordered them by radio to leave Hall and save their own lives. By around 9 p.m. they reached Camp Three, located at 32,000 feet. DCXP reported the two Sherpas were exhausted and had to be assisted down the rest of the mountain this morning.
A similar incident occurred earlier this month, when British climber David Sharp was left to die only 1,000 feet from Everest's peak.
Sharp was climbing alone. Others, like New Zealand climber Mark Inglis, the first double amputee to ascend to the Everest summit, saw him struggling to survive. Inglis' group and several others all decided to push on, rather than stop to try to help Sharp.
Everest's history is filled with both miracle rescues and tragic deaths.
In 1996, American Beck Weathers was left half-buried in snow on Everest for 14 hours at 32,000 feet. Canadian climber Stuart Hutchison discovered him but thought Weathers was dead and left him. Severely frostbitten and nearly blind, Weathers woke up and somehow made it down the mountain to safety.
In 2003, climber Carlos Pauner of Spain disappeared while descending from the summit of Kangchenjunga, also in the Himalaya mountains. Two days later, he called his wife and daughter to tell them he was approaching base camp. Without food for three days, Pauner made it down safely on his own.
More than 2,000 people have reached Everest's summit since it was first conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. Nearly 200 have died during their attempts.