Durham climber says he would’ve helped Brit who died on peak


PORTLAND (AP) – One of the two Mainers who attacked Mount Everest earlier this month said he would have helped a 34-year-old British climber who died – even if it mean abandoning his own ascent.

David Sharp died 1,000 feet below the summit after as many as 40 climbers intent on reaching the summit trekked right past him.

“I’m thinking that Brit must have been in really bad shape, or those were some really insensitive people,” said Bill Yeo of Durham. “No summit is more precious than someone’s life.”

Sharp died on the mountain May 15, several days after Yeo and John Bagnulo of New Vineyard finished their climb.

Bagnulo became the first Mainer to reach Everest’s 29,035-foot summit on May 11. Yeo turned around within 2,000 feet of the summit after coughing up blood and showing symptoms of a condition called high altitude pulmonary edema.

Yeo decided to give up the summit rather than risk his life. He said he would have done the same for a dying climber.

However, it would have been a more difficult decision if a climber was near death, Yeo said. If a person was close to death, and Yeo’s own life was at risk, he would not risk his own life, he said.

About 40 people are thought to have walked past Sharp as he sat cross-legged in a shallow cave. The few who stopped to check on him – and at least one team did give him oxygen – said he was so near death there was nothing that could be done.

Around the point where Sharp died and Yeo turned back, an area known as the death zone, temperatures can drop to 100 degrees below zero, and winds can blow with the force of a gale.

“It’s all you can do to help yourself. He was probably close to dead. It was probably really hard for them to see him, to walk away,” Yeo said.

… But it sounds like there were other people who saw him in much better shape,” Yeo said.

Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com

AP-ES-05-27-06 1323EDT