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American, Sherpa Save Nepalese Woman Left to Die on Mount Everest

A stricken climber left to die on Mount Everest was saved by an American guide and a sherpa who found her by accident as they returned from the summit.

The dramatic rescue of the Nepalese woman has reopened a passionate debate about mountaineering ethics, a year after the controversial death on the mountain of the British climber David Sharp.

The woman, identified only as Usha, was found on Monday morning suffering from severe altitude sickness about 550 meters beneath the 29,028-foot summit.

She was at a similar altitude to the cave where Sharp died on May 15, 2006, after an estimated 40 climbers passed him by, most of them without making any attempt to save him. His death sparked an international controversy, with some arguing that a rescue would have cost more lives. Others, including Sir Edmund Hillary, condemned the cynicism of commercial mountaineers.

Usha, like Sharp, was apparently on the sort of barebones expedition that charges clients typically as little as $8,933 and provides them with only basic equipment.

Also like Sharp, she was too weak to move when she was found by David Hahn, a veteran American guide, and his sherpa, Phinjo Dorje, on their way down from the summit. Hahn and Phinjo Dorje decided to risk their own lives by taking her with them, even though she was only semiconscious and suffering from severe cerebral oedema, or water on the brain.

“I was very concerned because her oxygen had run out. She was virtually unresponsive, and in a precarious spot on the mountain, on a steep snowy slope,” Hahn told The Times via satellite phone from Base Camp.

Click here to read the full London Times report.