Friday, September 29

Norwegian mountaineer denies suggestions she stepped over tragic K2 porter during world record climb and blasts the ‘hatred’ she has faced for celebrating when she made it to the top

The Norwegian mountaineer accused of stepping over a porter who lay dying on K2 has rubbished the claims, saying she is a victim of ‘misinformation’.

Kristin Harila, 37, became the fastest climber to scale the world’s 14 tallest mountains, finishing with the summit in Pakistan on July 27 after just 92 days.

But Harila and her team were accused of clambering over 27-year-old Muhammad Hassan as he lay dying because they were more concerned about breaking records. 

Hassan, part of the team ahead of them, was unable to talk or hear after falling from a narrow ledge on a bottleneck part of the mountain and died two hours later.

Video has since emerged of Harila’s team appearing to step over the father of three, with fellow mountaineers accusing them of being more focused on the record than saving his life. 

Harila says that she has been the victim of ‘hatred’ and death threats for celebrating her feat, and wrote on Instagram: ‘This was no one’s fault, you cannot comment when you do not understand the situation and sending death threats is never okay.’

She said that her team stayed behind for 90 minutes trying to pull the Sherpa up before an avalanche forced them to move on.

Critics accused Norwegian climber Kristin Harila (pictured celebrating her K2 climb) and her team of being 'more interested in setting records' than helping a dying Sherpa

Critics accused Norwegian climber Kristin Harila (pictured celebrating her K2 climb) and her team of being ‘more interested in setting records’ than helping a dying Sherpa

Video showed Harila's team approaching the bottleneck where Muhammad Hassan was trapped

Video showed Harila’s team approaching the bottleneck where Muhammad Hassan was trapped

Harila wrote that the incident ‘happened at the most dangerous part of the deadliest mountain in the world’, urging critics to ‘remember that at 8000+ metres, your survival instincts impact the decision you make’.

She added: ‘I did not see exactly what took place, but suddenly Hassan had fallen and was hanging on the rope between two ice anchors.

‘At first, nobody moved, probably out of shock and fear, then we realised he was hanging upside down and was not able to climb up by himself.

‘We decided to continue forward, as too many people in the bottleneck would make it more dangerous for a rescue.’ 

She said: ‘The bottleneck is a dangerous place to be, there is snow and ice hanging over you, and you are walking on an extremely narrow path, on snow that can collapse below you at any time.’

‘Every minute you stay there increases the risk of accidents, not only for yourself, but for everyone above and below you.’ 

Even after the group moved on, she said two mountaineers stayed behind trying to help Hassan. 

She added: ‘Considering the amount of people that stayed behind and that had turned around, I believed Hassan would be getting all the help he could, and that he would be able to get down. 

‘We did not fully understand the gravity of everything that happened until later.’

Harila described Hassan as ‘a person who was important to so many people and he should not just be remembered as a person who passed on K2’. 

Harila also shared a link to a GoFundMe page raising money for Hassan’s family, set up by climber Wilhelm Steindl.

Steindl, who took part in the climb but had returned to the base camp earlier due to dangerous conditions, told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he was sickened by the inaction of the fellow climbers.

‘It was a very heated, competitive race to the top. What happened there is scandalous.

‘A living person is left behind so records can be set. It only took three or four people to save him. 

‘Had I seen it, I would have climbed up to help the poor man.’ 

But Harila defended her actions to The Daily Telegraph, saying ‘we did all we could for him’.

She added: ‘It is simply not true to say that we did nothing to help him. 

‘We tried to lift him back up for an hour and a half and my cameraman stayed on for another hour to look after him. At no point was he left alone.’

She said that given the conditions it was unlikely he could have been saved as he had fallen on to what was ‘probably the most dangerous part of the mountain where the chances of carrying someone off were limited by the narrow trail and poor snow conditions’.

Harila is also accused of holding a party shortly after clinching the record – despite Hassan’s death.

On Instagram at the time, she posted a final summit reel celebrating their success.

The post received backlash from users, one of whom accused her of ‘crossing him twice without helping’.

Anwar Syed, of Lela Peak Expedition which employed Hassan, told MailOnline that two climbers ‘tried their hardest to bring him down but they couldn’t do it and [Hassan] passed away after two hours’. 

The expedition group claims it offered payment to other porters to retrieve the body but ‘everyone said that it’s impossible to bring him down’.

Syed said that Hassan was much higher up than three climbers whose bodies were previously deemed unrecoverable from the mountain in Pakistan.

Muhammad Hassan lay dying after he slipped at a dangerous point on the mountain

Muhammad Hassan lay dying after he slipped at a dangerous point on the mountain

Harila also said that she had found out Hassan had died only as she climbed back down the mountain.

She said her team was unable to recover the body as it was ‘impossible to safely carry him down’.

She added: ‘Back in base camp, we heard that people thought no one had helped him but we had. We had done our best, especially Gabriel [the cameraman]. 

‘It is truly tragic what happened, and I feel very strongly for the family.

‘Please, please, please. Be kind. Not just to those who went up to K2 that day and who have all lived through something very difficult. 

‘But most importantly, to Hassan’s memory and those close to him. Be respectful.’

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