KOLKATA: If you are planning to climb to the top of the world, beware of thieves.
The majestic Mount Everest not only inspires men to chivalrous sacrifice — on May 22, a Briton abandoned his climb to the summit to rescue a Bengali woman — but also brings out the villainous side of climbers.
At least two mountaineers who scaled the summit this season complained of oxygen cylinders being stolen, which, at that height, means depriving someone of life support.
“It is unfortunate but true that a large number of oxygen cylinders were stolen. Every team stores oxygen cylinders in advance near the summit. Our four-member team had 27 cylinders stored at camp four, which is also called the summit camp. On reaching camp 3, we learnt that only eight of our oxygen cylinders were left at camp four,” Rudra Prasad Haldar, an employee of West Bengal police, said.
Each climber generally requires eight cylinders — five for personal use and three for the accompanying Sherpa.
Haldar said the teams that climbed the summit at the beginning of the season faced difficulties due to bad weather and had to stay longer than planned. They ran out of oxygen and hence stole cylinders stored by other groups.
“Whoever took those cylinders out of sheer necessity in that ‘death zone’ should at least have the courtesy and sense of duty to inform people at the base camp,” he said.
Australian mountaineer Adrian Ballinger shared similar experiences on his social networking page. “A lot of bull***** is going on around us — stolen oxygen bottles, poached tents, climbers taking it too close to the edge. We’re going to do our best to keep our ascent attempt clean, succeed or fail,” Ballinger wrote. He finally had to abort his dreams as he could not carry on without oxygen.
This is, however, not the first time climbers have complained of theft.