An Israeli mountaineer who was making his way to the summit of Mount Everest gave up climbing just meters away from the peak in order to save an injured Turkish climber who lives in New York, The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.
Had Nadav Ben-Yehuda, 24, chosen to continue climbing, he would have been the youngest Israeli ever to make it to Everest's summit, the report said. But he opted to help Aydın Irmak, 46, who was reportedly sprawled lifeless on the icy ridges when Ben-Yehuda saw him while moving quickly on the bitterly cold night of May 19.
“When we saw my friend Aydin there was no question,” Ben-Yehuda said, noting that before he spotted Irmak he had already passed two dead bodies clipped to the climbing rope. “It really changed my plans,” he added.
The report said that, after hoisting Irmak onto his shoulders, Ben-Yehuda carried the Turkish mountaineer and along with his Sherpa guide made the eight-hour-trip back down to Camp IV. Ben-Yehuda reportedly made the trek without gloves, as they made the rescue too challenging, and without oxygen, as his mask had already been broken.
“You don't feel it straight away,” he said about climbing without oxygen, a sentiment that quickly changed. “You are about to faint all the time.”
Ben-Yehuda added that the choice to forgo his climb and save his new friend was simple. “Aydin was climbing the day before me; I found him on the way down. I decided not to go up,” he told the Post. “This was the idea and it worked, because we just ate dinner together
The Turkish climber also spoke to the Post, saying as he was waiting in the dark without oxygen that the only thing he could recall was "Nadav's voice asking: ‘Aydin, Aydin, are you there, brother? Can you move your legs?”
“When I woke up there were four dead bodies around me,” he continued. “I believe I almost died. Nadav saved my life.”
He also said he is not only determined to climb a mountain again, but he is determined to do it with Ben-Yehuda. “If the opportunity comes I will go again. I am not scared of anything. I will climb one more time with Nadav,” he said.