Norwegian mountaineer Kristin Harila has denied claims that her team passed over a dying porter while attempting a record summit of K2.
37-year-old Harila and her sherpa, Tenjen Sherpa, summited K2 on July 27th, their 14th 8000 meter peak in just three months and one day. Their timeline smashed the previous record of 189 set by Nirmal Purja in 2019.
Unfortunately, on the same day as Harila’s summit, porter Muhammed Hassan fell off an edge well above 8,000 meters, with the incident eventually leading to his death. Images and footage showed Hassan lying down on the ridge while several climbers passed by him. In the footage, only one person appears to be helping him, sparking claims that Harila and her team climbed over the man without offering any assistance.
According to the Guardian, Austrian climbers Wilhelm Steindl and Philip Flämig recorded footage using a drone of people passing the man’s body, apparently doing nothing to help. Steindl claimed that an incident like this would “be unthinkable in the Alps“. The tallest mountain in the alps, Mont Blanc, reaches just over 4,800 meters.
“He is being treated by one person while everyone else is pushing towards the summit. The fact is that there was no organised rescue operation although there were sherpas and mountain guides on site who could have taken action.” – Philip Flämig
Harila posted a statement to her website in which she explains her side of the story. Hassan, who was not a part of the Norwegian’s team, fell in a dangerous bottleneck portion of the ascent. According to Harila’s words, the man fell just a few people in front of the record attempt group, hanging upside down about 5 meters below the narrow path. Harila, Lama, their camera man, Gabriel, and another individual worked to turn Hassan right side up. He was not wearing a down suit, so his bare stomach had been exposed to the freezing snow, he did not have oxygen, and he, for some reason, was not wearing gloves.
The group spent around an hour and a half attempting to help the fallen man, but Harila and Lama left when they heard reports of an avalanche near their fixing team up ahead. Gabriel stayed behind and worked with Hassan’s friend to pull him up to a snow shelf and give him oxygen. Gabriel stayed for several hours until he was forced to leave to get more oxygen for himself.
Believing that Hassan had all the possible help he could get in such a dangerous situation, Harila and Lama continued to the summit. They were unaware that Hassan had passed until they had returned to the bottleneck. Unfortunately, do to the difficulty of movement in such a location, they were unable to bring Hassan’s body down.
“Back in Base Camp, we heard that people thought no one had helped him but we had. We had done our best, especially Gabriel. It is truly tragic what happened, and I feel very strongly for the family. If anything, I hope we can learn something from this tragedy.” – Kristin Harila
Image Credit: Lakpa Sherpa via Instagram