The high and low of Everest
Sudeshna Sarkar

A film on Mount Everest by Discovery Channel has revived a controversy over a climber’s death, with critics calling it the "most shameful act in the history of mountaineering".

The channel aired the first episode in a six-part series - Everest: Without Limits - Tuesday, featuring an expedition to the 8,848-metre peak led by Himex, a commercial agency that guides climbers.

The programme explored why people attempt a feat that requires gruelling endurance and is highly dangerous.

The programme triggered condemnation from leading sports website - ExplorersWeb - that called it a "propaganda film" for Himex and its chief, mountaineer Russell Brice.

The Himex expedition came under criticism this year when its members passed a British climber dying on the Everest slope of exhaustion and exposure, spoke to him and filmed him but allegedly did not make any attempt to save him.

"On his third Everest attempt, David Sharp collapsed only an hour from camp," ExplorersWeb wrote in a scathing report. "Close to 40 climbers passed him by, most from a large commercial expedition. Although he moved, sat up and talked on several occasions, no rescue was attempted." "My name is David Sharp, I am with Asian Trekking," Sharp told the documentary crew, who were then ordered by Brice from base camp below to switch off their cameras and descend.

Later in the night, Sharp died in the cold, alone, though he was just one hour’s climb from the warmth of a high camp.

The dead mountaineer’s last words and images, however, have been erased from the Discovery documentary, reportedly at his family’s request. But ExplorersWeb is demanding that the clips be submitted to doctors to see if Sharp could have been saved.

It is also questioning Discovery’s motive in lending its name to a venture by a man whose reputation is "controversial". — IANS