Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Lincoln Hall


The Everest climbing season of 2006 was one of the deadliest on record. When it was over, eleven climbers were dead. The most controversial of all was that of David Sharp. Sharp arrived at Everest in 2006, and by many accounts he had the bare minimum of support and equipment necessary to make the climb. He was not attached to any large organized climbing party as are most Everest climbers. He had no climbing partners, he had no Sherpas, he didn’t even have a camera. His climbing gear was old, but adequate. He was determined to make it to the top of Everest this time even, as he told another climber, if he had to “lose more fingers and toes to do it&#8221.;

It’s believed that Sharp reached the summit on the afternoon of May 14th, but he was too exhausted from the effort to make it down the mountain. Too weak to go further, still near the summit, he would crawl into a small cave under a rock ledge. A Sherpa stopped to see if he was alive, and he was. The Sherpa asked his name and he said: “My names is David Sharp. I am with Asia Trekking and I just want to sleep.” Though still alive, as many as forty climbers walked right past Sharp as they went for the summit, letting him sleep. By May 16th, he was dead. This outraged the climbing community and the world, leading none other than Sir Edmund Hillary to say: “The whole attitude toward climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying,” and “A human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain.”

Ten days after Price lost his life on Everest, an Australian climber by the name of Lincoln Hall was fighting for his. Hall was an experienced climber and climbing as part of a group of climbers, one of whom, German climber Thomas Weber, was already dead. Now it appeared the climbing team was about to lose Lincoln Hall as well. Though Hall had made the summit, on the way down he became weak and disoriented and suffered high altitude cerebral edema. For hours Sherpas attempted to help Hall down the mountain and to revive him. Eventually Hall began to hallucinate and the Sherpas were ordered to descend and leave Hall, or die themselves. Reluctantly, the Sherpas did as they were told, and left Hall alone in the “death zone” of Mount Everest, believing him to be dead. Mr. Hall’s death was announced by radio and then over the Internet from the Everest base camp. Eventually Hall’s wife was informed, as was the world, Lincoln Hall was dead. Another climber killed on Mount Everest.

The next day, at above 28,000 feet, climber Dan Mazur and others were astonished when a man appeared before them as they ascended the mountain. Sitting in the snow wearing no gloves, no hat, with no oxygen, his suit unzipped and his arms out and only two feet from the edge of a shear 8,000 foot precipice, the man said: “I imagine you are surprised to see me here.” They were surprised. Surprised to see a dead man. It was Lincoln Hall and he was alive. Hall had spent an entire night alone and exposed above 28,000 feet in the death zone, something no man was supposed to have been able to survive, especially a man who had been left for dead and declared as such. It took eleven Sherpas to bring him down but Hall survived.


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