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Sherpa guides rescue freezing climber from Everest ‘death zone’ in ‘almost impossible’ mission

A Malaysian climber was saved from the “death zone” of Mount Everest by Nepali Sherpa guides and another climber.

Gelje Sherpa, 30, was guiding a client to the Everest summit on 18 May when he noticed the Malaysian climber clinging to a rope and shivering from the freezing temperatures.

Springing into action, the pair managed to wrap the climber in a sleeping mat and drag him over 600m (1,900ft) down from an area of the mountain known as the Balcony, to the South Col – the point between Mount Everest and Lhotse (the world’s fourth-highest mountain).

Ngima Tashi Sherpa walks as he carries a Malaysian climber while rescuing him from the death zone above camp four at Everest, Nepal, May 18, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video. Gelje Sherpa/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT
Image:
Pic: Gelje Sherpa

They had been travelling for around six hours before Ngima Tashi Sherpa, another guide, joined the rescue.

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“We wrapped the climber in a sleeping mat, dragged him on the snow or carried him in turns on our backs to camp III,” said Gelje Sherpa.

Ngima Tashi Sherpa walks as he carries a Malaysian climber while rescuing him from the death zone above camp four at Everest, Nepal, May 18, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video. Gelje Sherpa/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT
Image:
Pic: Gelje Sherpa

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“Saving one life is more important than praying at the monastery.”

A helicopter then lifted the climber – who is not named for privacy reasons – from the 7,162m (23,500ft) high camp III down to base camp.

Read more:
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“It is almost impossible to rescue climbers at that altitude,” Bigyan Koirala, an official for the department of tourism, said.

“It is a very rare operation.”

Gelje Sherpa sits along with Ngima Tashi Sherpa, who rescued a Malaysian climber from the death zone above camp four, during an interview with Reuters in Kathmandu, Nepal May 31, 2023. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Image:
Ngima Tashi Sherpa (right) joined Gelje Sherpa on the rescue mission
Gelje Sherpa Sherpa, who rescued a Malaysian climber from the death zone above camp four, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kathmandu, Nepal May 31, 2023. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Out of a record 478 people with permits issued by Nepal for Everest’s March to May climbing season, at least 12 have died – the highest number for eight years.

Another five are still missing.

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