Israeli climber tells of Everest rescue

 

An Israeli who rescued an unconscious climber on Mount Everest instead of pushing onward to the summit, says the man he helped, an American of Turkish origin, is like a brother to him.

Nadav Ben-Yehuda, 24, who was climbing with a Sherpa guide, would have been the youngest Israeli to reach the summit. He came across Aydin Irmak, 46, near the summit last weekend.

Four climbers died on their way down from the summit amid a traffic jam of more than 200 people rushing to reach the world's highest peak as the weather deteriorated.

Mr Irmak left Turkey for New York more than two decades ago, but remains proud of his Turkish heritage. The friendship stands in contrast to the political tension between Turkey and Israel, which were once firm allies.

“Aydin, wake up! Wake up!” Mr Ben-Yehuda recalled saying when he found his friend in the darkness.

He said Mr Irmak had been returning from the summit but collapsed in the extreme conditions, without an oxygen supply, a torch and a rucksack. Mr Ben-Yehuda, who developed a friendship with Mr Irmak before the climb, had delayed his own ascent by a day in hopes of avoiding the bottleneck of climbers heading for the top.

There have been periodic tales of people bypassing stricken climbers as they seek to fulfil a lifelong dream and reach the summit of Everest, but Mr Ben-Yehuda said his decision to abandon his goal of reaching the top and help Mr Irmak was “automatic,” even though it took him several minutes to recognise his pale, gaunt friend.

“I just told myself, 'This is crazy.' It just blew my mind,” he. “I didn't realise he was up there the whole time. Everybody thought he had already descended.”

The Israeli carried Mr Irmak for hours to a camp at lower elevation. Both suffered frostbite and some of their fingers were at risk of amputation.

Mr Ben-Yehuda lost 20 kilos (44 lbs) in his time on the mountain, and Mr Irmak lost 12 kilos (26 lbs), said Hanan Goder, Israel's ambassador in Nepal.

“They really have to recover mentally and physically,” Goder said. “They call each other, 'my brother.' After the event that they had together, their souls are really linked together now.”

The ambassador said the rescue was a “humanitarian” tale that highlighted the friendship between Israelis and Turks at a personal level, despite the deteriorating relationship between their governments.

One of the key events in that downward, diplomatic spiral was an Israeli raid in 2010 on a Turkish aid ship that was trying to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of eight Turkish activists and a Turkish-American.

Mr Irmak told The Jerusalem Post: “I don't know what the hell is going on between the two countries. I don't care about that. I talked to his (Ben-Yehuda's) family today and I told them you have another family in Turkey and America.”

Mr said he could not say with certainty how he would have reacted if he had come across a stricken climber he did not know. Oxygen is in such short supply and the conditions are so harsh, he said, that people on the mountain develop a kind of tunnel vision.

“You just think about breathing, about walking, about climbing,” he said.

The fundamental questions going through the mind of a climber heading for the peak are: “Are you going to make it?” and “When is the right time to turn back?”

And once a climber begins the descent, the all-embracing question becomes: “How fast can I go down?”

Mr Ben-Yehuda said his military training in Israel helped shape his decision. “You never leave a friend in the field,” he said.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
Sport
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
News
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: European Sales Director - Aerospace Cable & Wire

£100000 - £125000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a top tier supplier to the...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Project Manager

£17100 - £22900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an intermediate help de...

Recruitment Genius: CNC Turner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established manufactu...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral