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Central Region News

June 17, 2006 20:08 PM

Malaysian Solo Everest Climber Feels Some Guilt Over Feat

PETALING JAYA, June 17 (Bernama) -- T. Ravichandran has made an impeccable achievement to become one of the few Malaysians to have reached the summit of the world's highest peak, Mount Everest, but until now he harbours some guilt over the feat.

For Ravichandran, the pain from his frost-bitten hands was nothing compared to watching a fellow climber being left to die as he opted to continue with the conquest of the summit.

"This happened at an altitude of about 8,500 metres as I saw my climbing friend, David Sharpe, lying stiff in the cold environment. It did cross my mind to stop but I was advised by the others to move on," he told reporters at a thanksgiving gathering in Subang Jaya here Saturday.

He said Sharpe, a Briton whom he had got acquainted with for 45 days, was only about 300 metres short of reaching the peak when he collapsed after he was believed to have been overwhelmed by frostbite and a lack of oxygen.

Ravichandran said that in normal circumstances, it would have been only right for any decent human being to help another in such a predicament but he said that on Everest it was the contrast.

"Ahead of me, I saw about 40 other climbers walking past David and just leaving him to die. Nobody wanted to help," said the 41-year-old climber who had gone on the expedition in April this year for a charitable cause.

"At that time, I was thinking of helping him and thought of forgetting about reaching the summit. Then again, I was just a few hundred metres short of the peak and, thus, I decided to reach the summit and left David behind," said Ravichandran, who reached the summit on May 15.

Also down with frostbite, which had attacked both his hands, Ravichandran was immediately sent for treatment in Kathmandu, Nepal, upon descending the mountain four days later.

While under treatment, he also learnt that another climber from his group whom he knew as Victor, from Brazil, had also died on Everest.

"Until now I have been going through some sleepless nights thinking about them. I should have taken the other decision to help them and I still feel some guilt for not having done so," he said.

Ravichandran, who returned to Malaysia on June 1, said he was grateful that he was able to stay alive after going through the adverse conditions of climbing via the north side of Everest, which was considered more difficult than the south side.

He said the side he had chosen, which borders Nepal, had lesser facilities compared to the south side that could be accessed from India.

As a solo climber, he decided to share a permit to climb together with David, Victor and three others, whereby they were guided by a Sherpa only up to an altitude of 5,000 metres. From then on, they were told of the risks they faced ahead and were left to proceed further on their own.

Ravichandran said the short acquaintance with the other climbers in the group and the experience on Everest had made him a changed person as he now appreciated life more.

"My next plan would just be to share my experience on Everest with the young generation," he said.



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