Thursday, June 03, 2010

Everest team forced to leave sick British climber to die

At one o'clock in the afternoon, the British climber Peter Kinloch was on the roof of the world, in bright sunlight, taking photographs of the Himalayas below, "elated, cheery and bubbly".

But Mount Everest is now his grave, because only minutes later, he suddenly went blind and had to be abandoned to die from the cold.

As the team descended, Mr Kinloch's guides noticed that he seemed to lose co-ordination. He would slip and stumble, then resume walking normally. After an hour, he made a surprising request to the team leader, David O'Brien, to be shown how to get down the ladders. At first he said he was having difficulty seeing, then he admitted that he could not see anything.

It took four hours for Mr O'Brien and a sherpa to help the stricken climber down to Mushroom Rock, barely 1,000ft below the summit. Two more sherpas arrived and for the next eight hours they all struggled to bring Mr Kinloch,28, down the mountain, administering drugs and oxygen. But they were now dangerously close to needing rescue themselves, and had to abandon him and struggled back into camp at 5.30am, exhausted and suffering from hypothermia and frostbite.

Mr Kinloch's body is still in Mount Everest's "death zone" and may never be recovered. He is the 30th climber to die on the mountain in the past five years. He died last Wednesday but the news was made public only yesterday, on the EverestNews website.

"Peter seemed to be a fit young Scotsman with an interesting life of experiences," one of his fellow climbers wrote. "On the way up the final obstacles, Peter was in good spirits, moving steadily and sure-footedly together with our team. Everyone was in fine spirits and good health.

"On the summit Peter was elated cheery and bubbly. Earlier, during the expedition, while dining with the team, he had said that climbing Everest would be the realisation of a dream. While standing atop Everest, Peter took summit photos with the team. Conditions were sunny, but extremely cold, windy, with blowing snow."

The IT specialist, who worked for Merseyside Police, had an ambition to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents. He had conquered four. Everest, at 29,035ft, was the fifth. After that, he planned to tackle Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia and Mount Vinson in Antarctica. His plan was that on every summit he would wear the team hat of Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC. He was using the climbs to raise awareness for the charity OCD Action, which aids people with obsessive compulsive disorder.
Dangers at Altitude
* Retinal haemorrhages – bleeding from the cells at the back of the eye – are a relatively common complaint of mountain climbers. High altitude causes the blood to thicken, increasing blood pressure, which can lead to the seepage of blood from cells into surrounding tissues.
* Some researchers have found that more than a quarter of climbers on an Everest expedition are affected by retinal haemorrhages. Normally, they are minor, with no noticeable effect on vision, and resolve themselves within weeks of a return to low altitudes. But in Peter Kinloch's case it appears the effects were acute and extreme, causing total loss of vision, which led to deadly consequences.

From Andy McSmith's article in The Independent 
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Peter Kinloch is not the first climber to die at that snow laden mountains. Climbers have been dying there season after season. Way back in 2006 another mountaineer David Sharp was left to die there. When David Sharp was struggling with his life 40 climbers passed by. Nobody made any attempt to rescue him. For those climbers conquering Everest was paramount than saving a man struggling to live.
The callous behaviour of the climbers is not something new. The western civilisation is notorious for this attitude.

Allama Iqbal in his famous Madras lectures mentions one such instance. It was about a raging debate going on and on in one of the European dailies at those times. The daily had asked its readers to express their views in a touchy subject.

The Daily declared in its first page : "Let us assume that a big fire erupts in the historic museum. In a critical situation it so happens that an infant got caught in a room engulfed with fire. There was also a precious, timeless painting of great personality. You could here the wails of the crying infant too. But there is a twist. The fire fighters were in a position to save either the crying infant or the precious painting. They cannot save both. What should be the choice of the fire fighters? What would you do in such a situation?". Readers were asked to respond to this query.

The daily was flooded with hundreds of letters. Allama Iqbal laments that majority of them were in favour of rescuing the precious painting. Their line of thinking was, "You could always give birth to a child. But from where the hell could you bring such a priceless painting?". Allama Iqbal asserts that a Muslim's choice would always be to save other human beings. The Holy Quran declares that "He who saves a life shall be as if he had given life to all mankind" (5 : 32).

But for the western society a painting was more precious than a human life. This callous attitude shows itself time and again. The fact that David Sharp was left to die there and not even one of those 40 climbers prefered to help him over their desire to conquer the peak is an ample testimony to this bitter truth. God bless the mankind.


Tariq Azeez said...

I think it was M M Pickthal. He too delivered a series of lectures in Madras (present Chennai). These lectures have been compiled as a book by name 'The cultural side of Islam'

Zerelda said...

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British School Chennai


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