Norwegian mountaineer Kristin Harila denies her team ignored dying Sherpa on K2 climb

Norwegian climber Kristin Harila and her Nepali sherpa guide Tenjen Sherpa in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Norwegian climber Kristin Harila and her Nepali sherpa guide Tenjen Sherpa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AFP
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Kristin Harila has received death threats after drone footage appeared to show climbers passing Mohammad Hassan, who had fallen from a cliff.


Kristin Harila, joint holder of the world speed record for climbing every mountain over 8,000 metres, has defended herself against accusations that she stepped over a dying Sherpa to complete her ascent of K2 in Pakistan.

With her Nepalese guide Tenjen Sherpa, the Norwegian climbed all 14 summits in 92 days, snatching the world record from Nepalese-British climber Nirmal Purja this July.

But her feat has now been tarnished by controversy.

Drone footage shared by other climbers appears to show Harila and her team passing over the visibly injured body of Mohammad Hassan, a Sherpa from another team who died shortly afterwards, as they continued their ascent of the world's second-highest summit in pursuit of the record.

At the time, they were on K2's Bottleneck, a narrow and highly dangerous passage some 400 metres below the summit, or couloir, overhung by icy seracs.

Harila also came under fire for celebrating her ascent once back at base camp on the mountainside.

Desperate measures

Late on Thursday, the 37-year-old athlete stated on Instagram that she had "done everything for him (Mohammad Hassan)", denouncing the "death threats" she had received since the accident.

She said that she and her cameraman Gabriel, along with two other people including "Hassan's friend", had spent "an hour and a half" trying to pull him up after his fall. It is not stated where the Sherpa's team was, but many climbers were "behind them", said the Norwegian.

The climber then continued on his way, following an avalanche warning from his team.

Gabriel stayed by Hassan's side, she insisted, sharing oxygen and hot water with him.

After another hour, the cameraman decided to leave, as he needed "more oxygen for his own safety", she claimed.

When they came down, they found that Mohammad Hassan, aged 27, had died.

But her four-person team "was not in a position to lower his body" safely, as it would have taken at least six people to do so, Harila wrote, pointing out that the Sherpa was not properly equipped.

His death is "really tragic (...) and I feel very sorry for the family", she added, but "we did our best, especially Gabriel".

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