Rotherham mountaineer abandons Everest attempt to save fellow climber

Mount Everest seen from peak Gokyo Ri in Nepal.
Mount Everest seen from peak Gokyo Ri in Nepal.
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AN ex-serviceman from Rotherham abandoned an attempt to scale Everest in order to rescue a fellow climber.

Leslie Binns, who served and now works in Iraq, went to the aid of Indian Sunita Hazra, who was attempting the summit ahead of him.

Miss Hazra is now recovering in hospital.

Mr Binns, 42, who was blinded in his left eye in an explosion in Afghanistan, has been hailed a hero for his actions.

The rescue came amid a spate of tragedies and near-tragedies on Everest, which experts said could have been avoided.

In one incident, an Indian climber died while being helped down Mount Everest.

Two other Indian climbers were reported missing, as experts suggested poor planning and overcrowding on the world’s tallest peak may have led to bottlenecks that kept people delayed at the highest reaches while waiting for the path to clear lower down,

Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association said: “This was a man-made disaster that may have been minimised with better management of the teams. The last two disasters on Everest were caused by nature, but not this one.”

Many had hoped this year’s climbing season would restore confidence in the route, after deadly disasters cancelled climbing the previous two years.

But as hundreds of eager climbers, joined by local Sherpa guides and expedition experts, scrambled to take advantage of good weather to make it to the peak, reports of tragedy began trickling down the mountain.

First, a 35-year-old Dutch man, Eric Arnold, died on his way down from the peak from altitude sickness. Hours later, a 34-year-old Australian woman, Maria Strydom, died near the top, also after apparently suffering from altitude sickness.

Two weeks ago, Subhash Paul of India was reported as the third to die after succumbing to altitude sickness overnight as he was being helped down the mountain by Sherpa guides.

Dozens of other climbers have developed frostbite or become sick near the summit in recent days, including the Australian woman’s husband, Robert Gropal, who was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Kathmandu for treatment.

Mr Tshering said the competition between expedition organisers has become so fierce that they are dropping their prices, which can lead to compromises in hiring equipment, oxygen tanks and experienced guides.