[VIDEO] Nepali Sherpa Saves M'sian Climber By Carrying Him Down Mt Everest For 6 Hours
"Saving one life is more important than praying at the monastery" — these are the words of Gelje Sherpa, a Mount Everest guide, who quit the summit to save a Malaysian climber from the "death zone"
30-year-old Gelje was guiding a Chinese client to the Everest summit at 29,032ft on the night of 18 May, when he saw the Malaysian climber holding a rope and shivering from extreme cold in the "death zone", also called "the Balcony", a colloquial name for an area of Mount Everest close to the summit.
"I was going towards the summit with a Chinese client, around 12.30am to 1am [...] I met him in 'the Balcony'. When I saw him, he was sitting on the Balcony holding a rope," Gelje told Reuters.
Temperatures in the "death zone" can dip to minus 30°C or lower, which makes rescuing climbers at the 27,231ft altitude "an almost impossible task", according to a Nepal government tourism official.
However, Gelje convinced his Chinese client to give up his summit attempt and descend the mountain, saying it was more important for him to rescue the climber, who could have died "if left like that".
Not wasting a moment, Gelje and a friend wrapped the Malaysian in a sleeping bag and took turns carrying him on their backs
According to Gelje, they tried to drag the Malaysian man, but the rocky terrain made doing that impossible.
"We had to carry him on our backs with difficulty," he told Reuters.
"It was important for us to rescue him, even from the summit. Money can be earned any time. Left like that, he could have died. We have saved his life by quitting the summit," Gelje added.
It took Gelje five to six hours to get from 27,887ft to 25,919ft with much difficulty.
A helicopter using a long line then lifted the rescued Malaysian climber from the 23,500ft high Camp III down to one of the base camps at 17,598ft, reported Reuters on Thursday, 1 June.
Watch the video of the rescue below:
Gelje also took to his Instagram account to share how the Malaysian climber was in danger and needed rescuing but no one was helping
He said that other climbers and guides "just focused on the summit" and that no one was helping the Malaysian, who had "no friends, no oxygen, no sherpas with him" so it was quite dangerous for him.
This year, 12 climbers have died and five are still missing on Everest as the spring climbing season comes to an end, according to Nepali officials. The number of fatalities is the highest in eight years.
"I made the decision to cancel our clients' summit push so I could bring him down to safety before he died up there alone," Gelje said, adding that he carried him all the way down to camp where a rescue team took over.
While Gelje has previously carried out more than 55 rescues, he said this was the "hardest in my life".
The rescued Malaysian climber was flown home when his condition improved. His name has not been released to the media.
Tashi Lakhpa Sherpa of the Seven Summit Treks company, which provided logistics to the Malaysian climber, declined to name him, citing his client's privacy, according to Reuters.
The climber arrived safely in Malaysia last week.
According to Al Jazeera, among the 12 dead this year on Mount Everest is Awang Askandar Ampuan Yaacub, a senior officer in Malaysia's civil defence force, who died as he made his final ascent up the mountain in May. Meanwhile, a second Malaysian, 33-year-old Muhammad Hawari Hashim, who was on the same expedition as Awang Askandar, reached the summit but was reported missing the next day on 19 May. He has yet to be found despite drones being used to try and locate him.
Meanwhile, in the comments section of his post, thousands have taken to call Gelje a "giant among us" for his selfless bravery
Watch the video of Gelje carrying the Malaysian climber on his back: