Mount Everest and Ethics – What’s wrong with people?

Though it’s not one of my usual energy blogs, I couldn’t pass this one up.

Below is a link to a story about a climber, Daniel Mazur, a professional guide from Summit Climb, who cost himself a chance to summit Mt. Everest last week (as well as his two paying clients, apparently) when they stopped to help a climber, Lincoln Hall, down the mountain after he had somehow been left for dead by his own party, just 1,000 feet from the summit.


It’s apparently newsworthy because a few days another climber, David Sharp died at about the same altitude with dozens of people walking buy him who didn’t stop to help.


Incredible enough, Mazur stated in the article that while helping Hall two other climbers passed by, and lied about not speaking English as an excuse to avoid helping.

I don’t consider myself any more moral or ethical than the next guy, but I guess I will never understand some people’s concept of ethics.

When I was in my training program at Bankers Trust, fresh out of college, we were put through an ethics course. One of the ethics cases we discussed was almost verbatim this Mt. Everest scenario. The case was simple, our ethicist instructor asked us what we should do if we were climbing a peak, the only time we would ever have a chance to do it, on a trip that had cost us thousands of dollars, and we ran across a stranded climber. The case went on to describe that the climber could possibly have made it down himself, but there was a reasonable chance that they might die if we didn’t help. Our sole objective on this once in a lifetime trip was to make the summit, and we could either help the climber down, or make the summit. The ethicist then wanted us to discuss the pros and cons of each side of this ethical dilemma.

At the time I found this whole discussion quite astounding, and said so. I recall telling the ethicist and the class in no uncertain terms that this was a ridiculous scenario, as there was no ethical dilemma whatsoever, and that it was truly sick that we should be assuming there was. That I was from Texas (the only Texan in this New York group), and that I didn’t know how people did things where he was from, but in Texas we only saw one option here: stop, pick the guy up, and carry him down the mountain without another thought.

The ethicist did not seem to understand why I had a problem with our discussion. But there was no more debate after that, we just kind of went on to the next case.

Bottom line, am I missing something here?

7 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Look if I could be crowned the first man to Mars, I’d pass the sick person and go on.But since Everest is so cliche, absoloutely forget about reaching the bloody peak and HELP the sick guy.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    You people obviously dont know what it takes to get someone back DOWN the hill. Its not a simple fact of two ppl walk up and see a dead or dying man and just pull him down.. It dont work like that.. it takes roughly 9 men to take that body back down due to lack of oxygen and mountain sickness in the other men that FOUND him. Do you have any idea how many bodies are just laying out in plain sight on everest? theres more than 100 bodies from the last 5 to six years alone . just laying up there. because no helicopter can get there and no one has nine men to spare to make a day of half summiting everest to retreive bodies..

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