Summary: True stories of Mt. Everest climbers abandoned to die and the Good Samaritan story. Re-thinking compassion, outreach and evangelism.
I. MOUNT EVEREST CLIMBER ABANDONED & LEFT TO DIE
REUTERS NEWS (May 25, 2006) Mount Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary said Wednesday he was shocked that dozens of climbers left a British mountaineer to die during their own attempts on the world’s tallest peak. David Sharp, 34, died apparently of oxygen deficiency while descending from the summit during a solo climb last week. More than 40 climbers are thought to have seen him as he lay dying, and almost all continued to the summit without offering assistance. "Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain," Hillary was quoted as saying in an interview with New Zealand Press Association.
New Zealander Mark Inglis, who became the first double amputee to reach the mountain’s summit on prosthetic legs, told Television New Zealand that his party stopped during its May 15 summit push and found Sharp close to death. Several parties reported seeing Sharp in varying states of health and working on his oxygen equipment on the day of his death. Inglis, who was due to arrive back in New Zealand on Thursday, said Sharp had no oxygen when he was found. He said there was virtually no hope that Sharp could have been carried to safety from his position about 1,000 feet short of the 29,035-foot summit, inside the low-oxygen "death zone" of the mountain straddling the Nepal-China border. His own party was able to render only limited assistance and had to put the safety of its own members first, Inglis said Wednesday. "I walked past David but only because there were far more experienced and effective people than myself to help him," Inglis said. "It was a phenomenally extreme environment; it was an incredibly cold day." The temperature was minus 100 at 7 a.m. on the summit, he said.
Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953 became the first mountaineer to reach Everest’s summit. Hillary said in an interview published Wednesday in a New Zealand newspaper that some climbers today did not care about the welfare of others. "There have been a number of occasions when people have been neglected and left to die and I don’t regard this as a correct philosophy," he told the Otago Daily Times. "I think the whole attitude toward climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top," he told the newspaper. "It was wrong if there was a man suffering altitude problems and was huddled under a rock, just to lift your hat, say ’good morning’ and pass on by," he said. He said that his expedition, "would never for a moment have left one of the members or a group of members just lie there and die while they plugged on towards the summit."
More than 1,500 climbers have reached the summit of Mount Everest in the last 53 years and some 190 have died trying.
II. LUKE 10:30-37 – THE GOOD SAMARITAN - JESUS DESCRIBES 3 KINDS OF PEOPLE
A. Those Who “Beat Him Up” – what’s yours is mine, I’ll take it
B. Those Who “Passed Him Up” – what’s mine is mine, I’ll keep it
1. Many priests lived in Jericho – went to & from temple work
2. Excuses of priests & levites: “this man looks as if he might be dead - if I go near him, I might defile myself”; “I recognize his face, I remember offering sacrifice for him I’ve done my duty & have no further responsibility”; “poor fellow, looks as if he’s done for. I guess he’s beyond hope. There’s nothing I can do about it”
C. That One Who “Picked Him Up” – what’s mine is yours, please take it
1. This man was in the “death-zone”
2. Not from altitude sickness – but from unfortunate circumstances
3. One man in the death-zone - some people who chose to “pass on”, one Samaritan who chose “compassion”
III. THINKING BACK TO THE MOUNT EVEREST STORY OF DAVID SHARP
A. Reasons Posted Not To Help This Or Other Climbers In This Situation
1. “If you give him your oxygen (assets) you may not have enough for yourself”
2. “Climbing Everest you know going in the danger – and if something goes wrong there’s little chance of rescue”
3. “Trying to bring a dying climber down would threaten other lives”
4. “If you know them, help them. If you don’t know them, don’t”
5. “It’s a commercial expedition some paying tens of thousands of dollars to guides who are under fierce pressure to get their clients to the summit. Everest climbers may be forced to decide whether to jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime investment to help a dying person”
6. “I would if I could, but I was inexperienced - don’t have the skills to help him, I thought someone more experienced would help”