A Norwegian mountaineer and her group have been accused of leaving the Pakistani porter dying on K2 while scaling K2 mountain in a bid to achieve the record.
Kristin Harila, a renowned Norwegian mountaineer who recently achieved a world record by scaling the 14 highest peaks within just 92 days, has become embroiled in controversy following an incident on K2, one of the world’s tallest mountains.
At 37 years old, Harila is facing accusations that her team callously overlooked a dying helper during their ascent of K2. The incident took place during her final climb, which she completed alongside fellow mountaineer Tenjen (Lama) Sherpa.
The controversy was ignited by video footage showing climbers appearing to pass by Muhammad Hassan, a 27-year-old high porter from Pakistan, who had tragically slipped and become ensnared in ropes. Despite criticisms from two climbers who were present on the same day, Harila has adamantly refuted allegations of negligence.
In an interview with Sky News, Harila asserted, “We tried for hours to save him.” She emphasized that the incident occurred in an exceptionally perilous location on the mountain, where offering assistance is extremely challenging due to narrow trails and steep terrain.
Harila responded to critics by explaining that their decision to proceed to the summit was based on their inability to provide substantial aid in the dangerous circumstances. She clarified, “We were sure he was still to get help.” Visibly shaken by the event, Harila expressed deep sympathy for Hassan’s family and underscored the tragedy of the situation.
Criticism, however, has continued to mount. Austrian mountaineer Wilhelm Steindl, who was also on K2 that day, lamented that Hassan was “treated like a second-class human being.” He launched a GoFundMe campaign to support Hassan’s family and decried what he saw as a disregard for human life in pursuit of records.
K2, renowned as the “killer mountain,” is notorious for its unforgiving conditions and high fatality rate. Experts often consider it more perilous than Everest due to its steep inclines, susceptibility to avalanches and rockfalls, and challenging terrain.
The incident on K2 has ignited a broader conversation about the ethics of extreme mountaineering and the responsibilities climbers hold towards their fellow adventurers. As the controversy continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how this tragic event will impact the mountaineering community and prompt discussions on safety, accountability, and the pursuit of records in high-stakes expeditions.