Everest Deaths Create Questions

But what about the 40 climbers who passed Sharp on their way to the top? Did they put their own ambition above saving a life, or was leaving him the only way they could make it back alive?

Ingliss said attempting to save another climber is very dangerous.

"It's like what do we do, you know? And we couldn't do anything. He had no oxygen, he had no proper gloves -- things like that," he said. "Trouble is, at 8,500 meters it is extremely difficult to keep yourself alive, let alone keeping anybody else alive."

Ironically, Ingliss himself was saved in a mountain rescue. That's how he lost his legs more than 20 years ago, and some of his rescuers nearly died.

Sharp was not a member of Ingliss's climbing party, nor a member of any other party. He was climbing alone.

Tragically, as he left on this trip, Sharp told his mother not to worry about his solo summit attempt. He told her that you are never alone on Mt. Everest.

Sir Edmund Hillary is outraged by Sharp's lonely death.

"I don't think it matters a damn whether it is a member of another party. If he had been Swiss or from Timbuktu, or whatever, we could regard it as our duty to get him back to safety," Hillary said.

But other climbers say the story may be more complicated than that. They suggest Sharp did not take enough oxygen with him, that he summited four to five hours too late in the day. And they say a climber of his experience should have known better.

"You can't help thinking, you know, what would I do if I was in that position," said Clowes. "The answer is, no one can tell. Especially no one who has been up at altitude can really sit and judge other people, because they don't know what it's like up at 8,000 meters."

Another Close Call

Just a few days after Sharp's death, the summit saw another near tragedy. Australian Lincoln Hall collapsed shortly after reaching the summit. His Sherpas left him for dead.

But the next day, another team found him -- barely alive. The gave him oxygen and tea and later that morning mounted a rescue operation.

Lincoln arrived at Everest's base camp two days after he collapsed. He was frostbitten and confused, but every much alive.

"I think this is a great example of how teams can work together climbing Everest," said one of his rescuers, an American climber. "I know a lot of times it feels like we are in competition with one another, and, you know, there are times when we can really work together. And this is a great example of that."

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