A brave sherpa did an amazing high-altitude rescue on Mount Everest, saving a Malaysian climber’s life.
On May 18, mountain guide Gelje Sherpa and a Chinese customer were reaching the summit of the world’s tallest peak when Gelje noticed the climber hanging to a rope in the “death zone” – shivering from extreme cold, according to Reuters.
Temperatures atop the 29,032-foot mountain’s “death zone” may drop to -22 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
The climber had “nothing” and was “about to die,” the mountain guide told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview Thursday. “No one was helping him, no friends, no oxygen, no sherpas with him, no guides – so this is quite dangerous for him.”
According to The Guardian, Gelje convinced his Chinese client to abandon his summit attempt to help the injured climber and try the life-saving rescue on May 18.
“Saving one life is more important than praying at the monastery,” the 30-year-old Nepali guide said.
According to Reuters, the duo were able to wrap the climber in a sleep mat and pull him through the snow, as well as take turns carrying the climber on their backs over 1,900 feet down from a section of the mountain during a six-hour period until another guide, Ngima Tashi, joined the rescue.
A helicopter ultimately arrived to help and carried the climber back to base camp. The climber, whose name was withheld for privacy reasons, returned to Malaysia last week.
“It is almost impossible to rescue climbers at that altitude,” Bigyan Koirala, an official for the department of tourism, said. “It is a very rare operation.”
According to CNN, Gelje took part in 55 rescues in all, but this one was the “hardest in my life,” he said.
This year, at least 12 individuals have died while trying to summit Everest, according to Nepali officials, and five are still missing.