Norwegian climber, Kristin Harila, defended her decision to continue her record-breaking series of climbs on K2, the second-highest mountain in the world, despite encountering an injured porter who later died during her ascent. Harila, along with her guide Tenjin Sherpa, became one of the fastest people to ascend all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter mountains in just under three months and a day, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 by Nirmal Purja.
However, two other climbers who were on the mountain that day, July 27, claimed that Harila and her team ignored the injured man, Muhammad Hassan, in order to pursue their summit attempt. They accused the climbers of prioritizing their personal goals over a potential rescue mission. Wilhelm Steindl, an Austrian climber who provided video footage of climbers stepping over Mr. Hassan, criticized the lack of action, stating that 70 mountaineers passed by without offering assistance.
The authorities in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region, where a portion of the mountain is located, are investigating whether sufficient efforts were made to rescue Mr. Hassan. They are also examining the condition of his climbing gear and the authorization for his high-altitude expedition.
Climbing some of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest and K2, is known to be extremely dangerous, with many fatalities occurring. Weather conditions on the day of Mr. Hassan’s death were severe, forcing multiple climbers to turn back. Steindl argued that if the injured person had been a Westerner, more efforts would have been made to save them.
Harila defended herself, stating that she and her team did everything they could to save Mr. Hassan. She explained that they spent hours trying to rescue him after finding him hanging upside down from a rope. Harila also mentioned that Mr. Hassan seemed ill-prepared for the climb, lacking necessary equipment such as gloves, an oxygen mask, and a down suit.
Despite passing Mr. Hassan again on the way down, Harila’s team was unable to recover his body due to the dangerous conditions and the difficulty of carrying a person in such a narrow area. Experienced mountaineers have voiced concerns about overcrowded mountain paths and the presence of inexperienced climbers contributing to avoidable deaths. Additionally, climbing guides are leaving the industry due to the lack of support for their families and the risks associated with the job.
In conclusion, Harila defended her decision to continue her climb on K2 despite encountering an injured porter who later died. She maintained that her team made every effort to rescue the man, but the dangerous conditions and lack of proper equipment hindered their ability to save him. The incident raises important questions about the responsibility of climbers to prioritize rescue over personal goals and the safety measures in place for the mountaineering industry.