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Ethics of Guiding at Altitude?
Posted on: July 8, 2008
For the first time, the National Park Service says, a climber died on the Summit of Denali. He was a client on a guided trip, and his guides said that he was fine on the way up. (article here) The Denali mountaineering rangers decided that retrieving the body was too dangerous, and have left the climber on the summit. This brings an important question even closer to home: is it really ethical to guide at altitude? It's a question that has buzzed around Mt. Everest for quite some time now. With countless examples from that mountain, and now the latest on Denali, it's clear that it's impossible to know how individuals are going to react to the extreme environment above 20,000 feet. Even guides have had unexpected reactions to altitude and died (prime example: Rob Hall, Everest, 1996). Is it really ethical to claim to be able to lead and care for marginally experienced climbers in such an unpredictable environment?
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