Summer 2015 | Filming Deceased Climbers, Ignoring Appeals to Save a Life: Disappointing Display of Mountaineering Ethics

A team tries to glorify their attempt by filming body parts of a deceased climber and disgustingly uses it in expedition video. On other mountain, several climbers turn a deaf ear to calls for the search of a missing climber. Is saving a human life any lesser achievement than reaching summit?

Mike Horn filming body parts of deceased climber and publishing the video on Facebook

It has been a warm summer season on K2 and the mountain released remains of some deceased climbers at the foot of mountain. Few teams reported about this heart-wrenching scene. However, the most advertised team on K2 this season - the Swiss climbers headed by Mike Horn - went further to glorify their attempt by showing the body parts on video. “Enjoy the video,” the publisher captioned it on Facebook.
Members of 1953 American K2 expedition gather around memorial built to commemorate the loss of expedition member Arthur Gilkey. The body parts filmed by Mike Horn could be anyone of the seven dozen climbers lost on K2.

Louis Rousseau - the man who has saved lives on the mountains and has also lost friends there - wrote this letter with profound sentiments. We are reproducing it with due permission.

Hello Mr. Horn

My name is Louis Rousseau and I’m a climber from Canada. Congratulations on your efforts on K2 this year. You gave your best, I’m sure.

I saw your last video posted on your Facebook Page (dated 2015-07-29) about your K2 expedition. At 00:26 sec, we can see the head of a deceased person/climber. Since the ground seems flat, I guess it was between BC and ABC.

It is a real disgrace for yourself, your climbing partners and your media team. Can you imagine the reaction of a friend, a wife, husband, a mother, father, a sister, a brother, son or a daughter after seeing this, if they have lost a dear one on K2? As a matter of fact, I have lost friends on K2 (and I know how it feels!)

Imagine if it was head of your own child lying right there on the snow; people taking picture and filming it. Perhaps you have lost some part of your empathy with all the popularity and media exposure?

I’ve been climbing for almost 25 years now. My first high altitude expedition coincided with your six-month solo traverse of the South American continent in 1997. During these years, I have lost friends in the mountains. I have seen families cry. I have also seen bodies and body parts of climbers on the mountains. Do you know what I do? If possible, I would try to place them away from the route, so others couldn’t see or photograph them. Otherwise, I would offer a short prayer, before moving on. That was least I could do. You have done exactly opposite of this!

For a guy of your capabilities, media exposure and fame, it was the worst thing that could have been done! At the time of this writing, your post has been shared over 1000 times with twice as many likes.

You wrote, “I often speak of failure as a big part of my life”. Well, this awful act in the name of sensationalism is another real failure and I hope you will learn for it without giving me a reply like, “it is the reality of K2 that we wanted to show.” No, nothing justifies showing corpse of a climber. It is purely disrespectful and a disgrace to mountaineering.

So Mr. Horn, you still have to learn that when a climber finds body of a person who was unfortunate while on the mountain, you should think about the person, his family and show respect and ethics by not taking pictures or filming.

That's it.
July 4th, 2011: Louis Rousseau, along with several other climbers, assisting the rescue of a Pakistani HAP, left for dead by a Japanese expedition he was working for. Source

Gasherbrum climbers ignoring calls for search/rescue of missing Pole

Polish skier Olek Ostrowski went missing on GII between C2 and C1. There were several climbers on the mountain and at BC, at that time. No one but three HAPs were sent to search for Olek. Andrzej Bargiel, who had just reached Broad Peak BC after a tiring ascent, immediately rushed to Gasherbrum as soon as he heard about the accident.

Andrzej feels disgusted about the attitude of climbers who denied participating in search operation. Here are excerpts from his interview to  Polish website rmf24.pl (translated with the help of Google Translate).

I feel rather ashamed of all those climbers who were in the Base Camp, because no one agreed to participate in search operation. Standards prevailing in mountains these days are very unpleasant. Thanks to commercial mountaineering, people throw all responsibility (to assist/help) on Sherpa. No one has the thought that they need to help someone - even though there were climbers in C1, C2 and BC. None of them helped. It is very sad.

The summit push is worthier than even an attempt to help someone and save some lives. I do not know what these people have in their minds.
Olek Ostrowski, Polish skier who disappeared while descending from C2 to C1. Source

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