David Sharp (mountaineer)

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David Sharp
Born 15 February 1972
Died 15 May 2006(2006-05-15) (aged 34)
Mount Everest
Cause of death Hypothermia and/or Cerebral oedema
Nationality British
Education Engineering Degree[1]
Occupation Mountaineer
Mathematics Teacher
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 150 lb (68 kg)[1]
While growing up, Sharp summited North Yorkshire's Roseberry topping, 320 m (1,050 ft) high
The Matterhorn
Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest, also summited by Sharp
Cho Oyu (8,201 m (26,906 ft) high), where Sharp took a 2002 expedition
Mount Everest's North Face. Sharp would take three expeditions to this mountain, with the third resulting in his death and triggering an international controversy

David Sharp (15 February 1972 – 15 May 2006) was an English mountaineer and Cho Oyu summiter[2] who died near the summit of Mount Everest.[3] His death caused controversy and debate, because he was passed by a number of other climbers heading to and returning from the summit during his own solo attempt with no support or team.


Climbing solo without oxygen, Sharp had made an attempt to reach the summit during the late afternoon and, presumably having reached it, had descended during one of the coldest nights of the year.

Sharp made no provisions for Sherpa or guide support for his summit bid. He also carried no radio with which to contact the Asian Trekking company, primarily because Asian Trekking lacked the capacity to effect any rescue operation. The following week three other climbers from Asian Trekking also died during summit attempts, Vitor Negrete (Brazilian), Igor Plyushkin (Russian), and Thomas Weber (German).[4] Two Asian Trekking Sherpas also died earlier in the season in the Khumbu Icefall.[5]

Other British climbers who died at Mount Everest date back to the infamous deadly 1924 expedition which claimed the life of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine.[6] After David the next fatality would be Peter Kinloch in 2010, followed by John Delaney in 2011.[6] Some fatalities recent to Sharp, going back to 1996, include Bruce Herrod, Malcolm Duff, Mark Jennings, Michael Matthews, Peter Legate, and Robert Milner who died the year previous (2005) to Sharp.[6] After David the next fatality would be Peter Kinloch in 2010, followed by John Delaney in 2011.[6]

Green Boots cave[edit]

A witness, New Zealand double-amputee climber Mark Inglis, revealed in an interview on 23 May 2006 that he assumed that Sharp had died, and that Sharp had been passed by 40 other climbers heading for the summit who made no attempt at a rescue. Sharp died under a rock overhang known as "Green Boots Cave", sitting with arms clasped around his legs, next to and to the right of a green-booted body, who is commonly believed to be Indian climber Tsewang Paljor who died 10 years earlier in the same place in 1996, under similar circumstances and whose body remained on the mountain as a macabre landmark.[7] The overhang is located alongside the main climbing trail approximately 450 m (1,480 ft) below the summit and 250 m (820 ft) above Camp 4. However, the body of Paljor has since vanished, presumably removed by Chinese mountaineers.


The Inglis party passed Sharp during their ascent around 1 a.m. and noticed that he was still breathing but due to the difficulty of mounting a night-time rescue, continued toward the summit. Mark Whetu instructed him to follow the line of LED headlamps stretching back to Camp IV before moving on. Most of the other ascending climbers passed Sharp without offering any substantial assistance. Everest guide Jamie McGuinness reported that on reaching David Sharp on the descent some nine hours later, "... Dawa from Arun Treks also gave oxygen to David and tried to help him move, repeatedly, for perhaps an hour. But he could not get David to stand alone or even stand resting on his shoulders. Dawa had to leave him too. Even with two Sherpas it was not going to be possible to get David down the tricky sections below base camp."


Inglis said Sharp was ill-prepared, lacking proper gloves and oxygen, and was already doomed by the time of their ascent. "I ... radioed, and Russ [expedition manager Russell Brice] said, 'Mate, you can't do anything. He's been there x number of hours without oxygen. He's effectively dead. Trouble is, at 8500 m it's extremely difficult to keep yourself alive, let alone keep anyone else alive".[8] Statements by Inglis[9] suggest that he believed that Sharp was probably so close to death as to have been beyond help by the time the Inglis party passed him. Brice, however, denies the claim that any radio call was received about the stranded climber until he was notified some nine hours later by the first ever Lebanese climber of Mount Everest Maxime Chaya, who had not seen Sharp in the darkness of the ascent. Sharp had no gloves and severe frostbite at this time.

The lead climber of the Inglis party said that his chief responsibility was to his team members and that not enough blame has been levelled at Sharp's own climbing team. Far greater efforts were made to assist the dying man on the way down than were given to him on the ascent.[2] By contrast, only days later on 26 May, Australian climber Lincoln Hall was found alive having been declared dead the day before. He was found by a party of four climbers (Dan Mazur, Andrew Brash, Myles Osborne and Jangbu Sherpa) who, giving up their own summit attempt, stayed with Hall and descended with him and a party of 11 Sherpas sent up to carry him down. Hall later recovered fully.


Sir Edmund Hillary was highly critical of the decision not to try to rescue Sharp, saying that leaving other climbers to die is unacceptable, and the desire to get to the summit has become all-important. He also said, "I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top. 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 also told the New Zealand Herald that he was horrified by the callous attitude of today's climbers. "They don't give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress and it doesn't impress me at all that they leave someone lying under a rock to die", and that, "I think that their priority was to get to the top and the welfare of one of the ... of a member of an expedition was very secondary."[8] Hillary also called Mark Inglis "crazy".[2]

Linda Sharp, David's mother, however, does not blame other climbers. She has said to The Sunday Times, "David had been noticed in a shelter. People had seen him but thought he was dead. One of Russell's [Brice's] Sherpas checked on him and there was still life there. He tried to give him oxygen but it was too late. Your responsibility is to save yourself – not to try to save anybody else."[10]


Since these comments, however, more details have emerged. In July 2006, Inglis retracted his claim that he was ordered to continue his ascent after informing Brice of a climber in distress, blaming the extreme conditions at altitude for the uncertainty in his memory.[11][12] The Discovery Channel documentary Everest: Beyond the Limit showed footage indicating that Sharp was only found by Inglis's group on their descent. All Inglis party members still confirm that they did discover him on the ascent, but they do not confirm that Brice was contacted regarding Sharp during the ascent. By the time the Inglis group reached him on the descent and contacted Brice they were low on oxygen and heavily fatigued with several cases of severe frostbite, making any rescue very difficult.

In the documentary Dying For Everest (broadcast on SKY 20.04.09), Mark Inglis now states: "From my memory, I used the radio. I got a reply to move on and there is nothing that I can do to help. Now I'm not sure whether it was from Russell [Brice] or from someone else, or whether you know... it's just hypoxia and it's ... it's in your mind." Brice received many radio messages (many of which were heard by others) that night and a full log was kept. There is no record of any call from Mark Inglis.

Sharp was reported to be wearing red boots, in contrast to the Green boots wearing corpse in the rock cave.[1]

Expeditions and/or Summitings[edit]

While growing up in England, Sharp climbed the 1000-foot Roseberry Topping. When he went to college, he joined the Mountaineering Club, according to the United States' newspaper USA Today.[1] In May 2002 Mr. Sharp summited the 26,900 foot Cho Oyu with James McGuinness and Tsering Pande Bhote.[13]

2006 Everest Timeline[edit]

The infamous Green Boots cave and the Green Boots corpse, where Sharp also died.

In 2003 and 2004, Sharp made expeditions to Mount Everest, but did not summit.[1]

  • May 11: At Camp 1 on Mount Everest's North Col[1]
  • May 14: Sharp makes a summit attempt and is estimated to have summited[14]
  • May 15: Seen in Green Boots Cave and suffering from Hypoxia[14]
  • May 16: At 8500 meters David Sharp is recorded dying[15]

That season, 11 others died on Everest and one on Lhotse, including 8 on the north side route.[16]

Fate of the body[edit]

The body of Sharp was later removed from the cave in 2007 according the BBC.[17]

2006 Everest mountaineering deaths[edit]

David Sharp's fatality in perspective with other deaths on Everest that year:

Deaths[18] Nation[19]
Tuk Bahadur Thapa Masa    Nepal
Igor Plyushkin  Russia
Vitor Negrete  Brazil
David Sharp  United Kingdom
Thomas Weber  Germany
Tomas Olsson  Sweden
Jacques-Hugues Letrange  France
Ang Phinjo    Nepal
Pavel Kalny  Czech Republic
Lhakpa Tseri[6]    Nepal
Dawa Temba[6]    Nepal
Sri Kishan[19]  India

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Everest remains deadly draw for climbers
  2. ^ a b c Dying for Everest documentary, New Zealand TV3 21 August 2007
  3. ^ Breed, Allen G.; Gurubacharya, Binaj (16 July 2006). "Everest remains deadly draw for climbers". USA Today. 
  4. ^ "Jamie McGuiness about David Sharp: 'Crying, Dawa had to leave him'" – mounteverest.net
  5. ^ "Dispatch 19: Massive Collapse in Khumbu Icefall Claims the Lives of Three Sherpa Climbers". greatoutdoors.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Mount Everest Deceased List
  7. ^ The Mount Everest Graveyard – mentalfloss.com
  8. ^ a b McKinlay, Tom (24 May 2006). "Wrong to let climber die, says Sir Edmund". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Cheng, Derek (25 May 2006). "Dying Everest climber was frozen solid, says Inglis". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Webster, Ben. "Focus: Has the once heroic sport of climbing been corrupted by big money? – Times Online". The Times (London). 
  11. ^ NPR: Amputee Lauded, Criticized for Everest Climb
  12. ^ Mount Everest Climbing Ethics | Outside Online
  13. ^ Cho Oyu 2002 Expeditions and News
  14. ^ a b The Times They Are A Changin': The Effect of Institutional Change on ... By David Savage, Benno Torgler
  15. ^ Deaths - Spring 2006
  16. ^ Deaths - Spring 2006
  17. ^ "Death in the Clouds: The problem with Everest's 200+ bodies". Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Cold mountain: Death on Everest". The Independent. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  19. ^ a b "Himalayan Database Expedition Archives of Elizabeth Hawley". himalayandatabase.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]