To the Sports Editor:
Re “Deliverance From 27,000 Feet,” Dec. 24: Thank you for publishing this article by John Branch.
As a person referenced in the article, I write in response to comments posted online, such as:
“… [H]ow do [climbers] witness unfolding distress and death and move on without helping? … I get why people climb mountains. But I don’t get how anyone summits Everest and comes away indifferent to another climber desperate for help.”
These readers may be confused regarding the timeline or misunderstand what happens to mountaineers above 8,000 meters.
Details of my experiences that day are published on my blog. In summary, my teammates and I left Camp 4 for the summit at 9:20 p.m. on May 20, 2016, more than an hour after the West Bengal team. I passed Subhas Paul, Goutam Ghosh, Sunita Hazra and their guides both on my way up and again on my way down — when they were still ascending above 28,000 feet on the Southeast Ridge. I was concerned that they were late, but it was not our place to talk with them about this. They were professionally guided and were making slow but upward progress. Communicating with them would have meant talking through our masks in unfamiliar languages. Furthermore, according to the article, their own guides had already asked them to turn around.
Paresh Nath made that decision, but he was not assisted down adequately by his guides. I do not recall meeting him on the lines that day, but based on the timeline, I suspect we crossed paths at or just below the Balcony circa 11:30 a.m. If there had been any indication that he was in trouble then, certainly if he had asked for help, we would have assisted. When we returned to Camp 4, exhausted, we were ignorant of the tragedy unfolding above. Even if we had known, there was no way I or anyone else post-summit would have been physically able to mount a rescue that night.
Source: The New York Times