Malaysian climber who was at death’s door, was rescued by a sherpa – only to thank his sponsors on social media instead

A Malaysian climber’s harrowing experience on Mount Everest took an extraordinary turn when a Nepali Sherpa guide undertook a daring high-altitude rescue mission, pulling the climber to safety from near the summit. The incident, described as a “very rare” operation, unfolded in the treacherous “death zone” where temperatures can plummet to extreme lows.

Gelje Sherpa, a seasoned guide, was leading a Chinese client towards the summit of the majestic 8,849-meter (29,032 feet) Everest on May 18. In a stroke of fate, he spotted the Malaysian climber desperately clinging to a rope, shivering from the biting cold. Gelje immediately sprang into action, realizing the urgent need for assistance.

With great determination and selflessness, Gelje Sherpa embarked on the treacherous task of hauling the climber down from the treacherous Balcony area to the South Col, covering a distance of 600 meters (1,900 feet) over a grueling six-hour period. Nima Tahi Sherpa, another experienced guide, joined the rescue effort at the South Col.

Despite the challenging conditions, Gelje and Nima persevered, wrapping the frostbitten climber in a sleeping mat and taking turns carrying him or dragging him on the snow. Eventually, they reached camp III, situated at an elevation of 7,162 meters (23,500 feet). From there, a helicopter with a long line was deployed to airlift the climber down to base camp.

Rescuing climbers at such extreme altitudes is an exceptionally difficult task, often deemed impossible due to the treacherous conditions and altitude-related risks. The successful outcome of this operation stands as a testament to the courage and expertise of Gelje Sherpa and the collaboration among the rescue team.

Gelje Sherpa’s commitment to saving lives extended beyond the immediate rescue. He convinced his Chinese client to abandon their summit attempt and descend the mountain, emphasizing the paramount importance of rescuing the stranded climber. His decision showcased the values of compassion and solidarity, driven by his deep-rooted Buddhist beliefs.

The Malaysian climber’s identity has not been disclosed to protect their privacy, as confirmed by Tashi Lakhpa Sherpa from the Seven Summit Treks company, which provided logistical support for the climber’s expedition. After being successfully evacuated, the climber returned to Malaysia last week.

The rescue on Mount Everest serves as a stark reminder of the dangers and risks associated with scaling the world’s highest peak. This climbing season, Nepal issued a record-breaking 478 permits for Everest. Tragically, the mountain claimed the lives of at least 12 individuals, including Awang Askandar Ampuan Yaacub, a senior officer in Malaysia’s civil defense force, and Muhammad Hawari Hashim, who remains missing despite extensive search efforts.

In the aftermath of the rescue, an unexpected controversy unfolded. As the Malaysian climber shared their gratitude on social media, some individuals called for acknowledgment of the heroic Sherpa who risked his own life to save them. However, it appears that the climber blocked and deleted comments regarding the incident on Instagram.

He’s since rectified the situation and gotten unblocked on the internet:

“Sherpas are people who are so committed and dedicated to their clients especially coming from “14 Peaks Expedition Co. & The Seven Summit Expedition Co. They never leave you behind.
I experienced it this year. When descending from summit, I had difficulty. Tashi heard that I am in trouble, he organised the rescue team (Mingma Tendi, Gelje Sherpa, Nima Dorchi, Nima Tashi, Dawa Sherpa and Dipen Bhote). They are high altitude Sherpas who make lots of sacrifices for their clients. They brought me to 7300 meter for Heli Pick-up for a quick Heli flight to Hospital.
Sherpas are important in my 8000 meter expeditions.”

The sherpa helped bury the hatchet replying: “Thank you 🙏🏽 hope you are recovering well”