A Norwegian mountaineer, who become the fastest climber to conquer all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, has been accused of causing the death of a fellow climber who was attempting the same feat in a shorter timeframe. The accused climber is alleged to have left the deceased Sherpa behind in order to complete his record-breaking climb.
Criticism towards the young mountaineer has been widespread on social media. Amidst the criticism, the accused mountaineer clarified his position by posting explanations on social media.
Kristin Harila, a 37-year-old climber, and her Nepali guide Tenzin Lama managed to complete the ascent of the world’s 14th highest peak, Cho Oyu, in the shortest time ever – three months and one day – as of their achievement on July 27. Kristin had previously achieved the same feat on the 2nd highest peak, K2, in July.
A video of Harila’s climb on K2 had been publicly shared, showing her and her team ascending a steep section. In the video, another team can be seen climbing ahead, and while descending, one of the members of that team, Sherpa Mohammad Hassan, appears to be unconscious on a ledge. The video captured the tragic moment of Hassan’s lifeless body being left behind by Harrila and her team members.
Following the release of this video, there has been public outrage and strong criticism towards Harrila and her team. Tragically, Mohammad Hassan later succumbed to his condition.
On Thursday, Kristin Harrila posted on social media, “I did what I could to save the dying Sherpa.” She continued, “There have been many accusations against me on social media, including death threats. In the Bottleneck area, I, along with my three teammates, tried to save him for more than two and a half hours.”
Climbing K2 is considered highly perilous. Many climbers have lost their lives on this treacherous peak. Harrila mentioned, “Gebreil Hassan, the cameraman of the team, was providing help to Mohammad Hassan for about an hour, providing water and oxygen. But after about an hour, Gebreil’s oxygen was running out, and he also had to go out.”
Harrila clarified that she couldn’t bring down Hassan’s body. She wrote, “His death is very saddening, and I feel very sorry for his family. However, we made every possible effort to save him, especially Gebreil.”
The incident has ignited a discussion about the challenges and ethical dilemmas in high-altitude mountaineering, particularly on peaks like K2.