A record-setting Norwegian mountain climber on Sunday rejected claims she could have done more to save the life of a Pakistani porter who slipped from a gorge near the summit of the world’s most treacherous mountain and died there hours later.
The circumstances of Mohamed Hassan’s death on July 27 on K2, the second highest peak in the world, have sparked ongoing controversy, with two climbers saying he could have been saved if everyone on the mountain that day had aborted their climb and focused on bringing it down. safely.
The fallout from Hassan’s death has overshadowed the record-breaking achievement of Norwegian climber Kristen Harila and her Sherpa guide Tenjen. By climbing K2 that day, they became the world’s fastest climbers, climbing the world’s 14 highest mountains in 92 days.
“In the snow situation we had there that day, it wouldn’t be possible to get it down to the ground,” Harila told The Associated Press on Sunday.
“I’m sure if we could have seen an opportunity to carry it from there, everyone would have tried it,” said Zoom from Norway. “But it was impossible.”
The uproar was sparked by drone footage showing dozens of climbers pushing a seriously injured Hassan up to the summit. The road to the summit was crowded on 27 July, described as the last day of the season for a possible ascent.
In Pakistan, local authorities in Gilgit-Baltistan region, which has jurisdiction over K2, formed a five-member committee on August 7 to investigate the death of Hassan. The committee’s mandate indicated that it was necessary to establish the facts after “disturbing reports circulating on various social media platforms”.
Sajid Hussain, deputy director of the Gilgit-Baltistan Sports and Tourism Department, said investigators will try to determine, among other things, whether more could be done to save Hassan. He told the Associated Press on Sunday that investigators will present their findings on Aug. 22.
Hasan, 27, a father of three, was hired by Pakistan-based expedition trekking company Lela Peak and assigned to a team of Russian climbers, company director Anwar Syed said.
When asked if she felt the controversy had tarnished her record, Harila said, “Of course,” but did not elaborate. She appeared distraught at times during the interview and said she received death threats.
“We tried for hours to save him and we were probably in the most dangerous area” of K2, she said, adding that she and her teammates “were taking very, very big risks.”
Hurila said Hassan slipped and fell from the narrow road around 2:15 a.m. on July 27, hanging upside down with a rope. At that time, Hassan was the second in the climbers’ line. Harila said that she was ranked eighth and that her team members ranked seventh and ninth, respectively.
As they try to pull Hassan up the road, an avalanche descends near where her front team is. She added that 90 minutes after Hassan attended, Harila and her colleague moved towards the summit to check on the rigging team, while her cameraman, Gabriel, stayed with Hassan.
Gabriel shared oxygen with Hassan, gave him warm water and tried to warm it up. She said that Gabriel stayed with the porter for two and a half hours but that he was running out of oxygen. Gabriel then moved towards the summit to meet the Sherpa Herrilla who had extra oxygen tanks. At that time, she said, there were also others taking care of Hassan.
When Gabriel reached the top, Harila asked him how Hassan was doing. She said Gabriel told her he was “in very bad shape.”
On the way back, she saw Hassan’s dead body lying on the road.
Harila rejected claims made by Austrian climber Wilhelm Steindl that more could have been done had a Westerner been injured on the mountain. Steindl and German climber Philipp Flemig, who recorded the drone footage, had abandoned their climb of K2 earlier that day due to bad weather.
“We really tried to save him and we would have done the same thing if it had been me or someone else hanging upside down there,” she said. “We couldn’t have done anything more than that.”
Well, apparently, he didn’t have proper equipment or training to be a high-altitude porter, said Harila, and it seemed like it was his first ascent.
“It was a very tragic accident that happened in K2 that day. We feel very sorry for Hassan himself, his family, his wife, children and his mother,” Huraylah said.
Hussein, the provincial official, said investigators will check the porter’s equipment and training. They will also review the weather on July 27, including avalanches, and examine the actions of the tour company that hired Hassan.
Porters and Sherpa guides are being questioned by investigators, he said, though it was not clear if foreign climbers would be interviewed as well. The team collected relevant documents from government departments and private companies involved in the K2 climb. Hussein said the interrogators were also visiting the K2 base camp and other related sites.
Steindl told the Associated Press on Saturday that he felt more could have been done to save Hassan. “Everyone had to go back to bring the injured person back to the valley.”
“I don’t want to directly blame anyone,” Stindel said. “I’m just saying no rescue was initiated and that’s really very tragic because that’s actually the most normal thing one could do in a situation like this.”
In Tesar, Hassan’s home village, friends and neighbors visited the family to offer prayers of condolence.
A childhood friend, Basharat Hussain, said Hassan is determined to provide his children with opportunities they never had before, including an education.
“I think this is the most inhumane event in my life,” he said, adding that he hopes “it won’t happen in the future.”
Steindl visits Hassan’s family and sets up a crowdfunding campaign. Four days later, the donations had reached more than €125,000 (just over $137,000).
Associated Press journalist Zarar Khan contributed to this story from Islamabad, Pakistan.
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