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Expedition company says Sherpa lied about heroic Everest rescue from 'death zone'

Expedition company says Sherpa lied about heroic Everest rescue from 'death zone'

The founder of one of the expedition companies has spoken on Gelje Sherpa’s 'almost impossible' account of the 18 May rescue.

An expedition company believes that a Sherpa lied about his heroic Everest rescue from the mountain's infamous 'death zone'.

Mount Everest's highest peak is known as the 'death zone', due to there being so little oxygen that the body struggles to keep up, seeing cells quickly deteriorating minute by minute.

At least 310 people have died attempting to reach the summit, which stands at roughly 29,031ft and sees temperatures fall below minus 22 fahrenheit (-30C).

Just last month on May 18, Malaysian climber Ravichandran Tharumalingam was in and around the 'death zone' before being discovered hanging on for dear life by clinging onto a rope with no oxygen.

Although other teams had simply climbed past him, a mountain guide called Gelje Sherpa stopped his bid for the summit and decided to help him.

The rescue from the Death Zone.

Gelje says he wrapped Ravichandran up in a sleeping mat and carried him on his back down to one of the mountain camps.

It was a six-hour journey, descending 1,900 feet at extreme altitude, completed with a grown man on his back.

Speaking about the ordeal to CNN's Anderson Cooper, the sherpa explained: "No one was helping him, no friends, no oxygen, no Sherpas with him, no guides – so this is quite dangerous for him."

Gelje - who is a climbing guide with 14 Peaks Expedition’s sister company, the Seven Summit Treks - also wrote on social media: “I made the decision to cancel our client’s summit push so that I could bring him down to safety before he died up there alone.

"I carried him myself all the way down."

Gelje Sherpa.

In a later post on Instagram, Ravichandran wrote: "I am alive today, because I had the best and dedicated Partners — The 14th peaks Expedition Co and Global Rescue Ins.”

However, a man named Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, who founded 14 Peaks Expedition, has delivered a different account of events.

“I was making all the decisions regarding the rescue,” Tashi told The Independent. “I was mobilising the rescue team and it was a joint effort.

“First I send Gelje to check the situation of Ravi, and Gelje informed me Ravi is in very bad condition. And at this time, Ming Tenji Sherpa already dropped oxygen to Ravi and I told Gelje to cancel the summit push and bring him down.”

Tashi also said that a viral showing Ravichandran being carried down the mountain did not show Gelje, saying: “Gelje is taking video."

Malaysian climber Ravichandran Tharumalingam.
Facebook/Ravichandran Everest

The person carrying Ravichandran is also said to be another sherpa guide called Ngima Tashi, and apparently he and Gelje took turns carrying Ravichandran on the descent, according to the founder.

He emphasised that it was a team effort.

An official from Nepal's department of tourism told the Guardian: "It is almost impossible to rescue climbers at that altitude.

"It is a very rare operation.”

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@gelje_sherpa

Topics: Travel, Viral, World News