Briton, who abandoned ascent to Mt Everest to save Indian climber, set to try again
Sunita Hazra, the Indian climber whose life he saved, told HT that the feeling of guilt that weighed her down all these days is finally gone.kolkata Updated: Mar 03, 2017 10:48 IST
Leslie John Binns, the British ex-serviceman who abandoned his Mount Everest (8,848 metres) climb in May 2016 barely 450 metres away from the summit to save ailing Indian climber Sunita Hazra, is all set to try his luck with world’s highest peak again.
Hailed as a hero by mountaineers from across the world for sacrificing his dream to save a mountaineer in the ‘death zone’ about 8,000 metres, Binns found many climber and common people supporting his fund raising campaign for the second attempt.
This time, however, the mountaineer, who has vision in only one eye, will attempt the climb from Tibet and via North Col, which is perceived to be more difficult than from South Col that Binns took last year.
“Hope to be stood on top of the world mid-May! Thanks to all involved. #EH2017,” Binns tweeted on March 2. Responding to another tweet about his choice of the North Col, he wrote, “I need a change of scenery.”
“I am overjoyed. I always nursed a feeling of guilt that he had to sacrifice his dream because of me. I knew he has exhausted all his resources for the expedition last year, and it would not have been possible to do it again without financial assistance from others,” Hazra told HT on Thursday.
Binns served the British military for over 13 years was posted in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. While working as a sergeant in Afghanistan in 2009, he suffered serious eye injuries from a landmine blast that claimed three lives.
In 2010 he was discharged from the army on medical grounds. Following a few years of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Binns decided in 2015 to take up new challenges.
Despite having one of his eyes impaired for life, Binns attempted to climb Mt Everest in May 2016. Binns had set out from the UK on April 4 was set to reach the summit on May 22.
However, barely 450 away from the summit he came across Hazra who was low on oxygen and had slipped while on her way down. None of her Sherpa companions were around her. Binns asked both the sherpas accompanying him to try and take Hazra to the nearest camp.
Binns and his sherpas also tried to help Bengali mountaineer Subhas Pal, who had lost consciousness on his way back from the summit, but Pal died. Hazra was safely brought back and she later described Binns as ‘god’.
“I owe my life to him,” Hazra had said last year.
Over the past few months, Binns has not only been raising funds for his Everest summit but also for ABF The Soldier’s Charity, which helped him during his post-accident period.
Till February 2017, he has managed to raise 20,000 pounds. Before he sets out for the adventure in the first week of April, Binns is scheduled to tell his story at the Royal Geographic Society in London on March 28.