Updated Jun 8, 2023, 10:44am EDT
East Asia

Chinese woman and her Mount Everest rescuers feud over $10,000 fee

Ngima Tashi Sherpa walks as he carries a Malaysian climber while rescuing him from the death zone above camp four at Everest, Nepal, May 18, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video. Gelje Sherpa/Handout via REUTERS
Gelje Sherpa/Handout via REUTERS

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The Scene

A Chinese woman is under fire for refusing to pay $10,000 to the Sherpa who rescued her from Mount Everest. The South China Morning Post reported that the woman, who was only identified as Liu, was found unconscious near the mountain’s summit by a fellow Chinese national, Fan Jiangtao, and his guide.

The incident is the latest drama to unfold from the world’s highest peak as Everest sees a record-breaking year of climbers attempting its summit.

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Know More

According to reports, Fan and the Sherpa were able to move Liu 200 meters (655 feet) on their own before they became exhausted and recruited the help of Xie Ruxiang, who was climbing nearby.

While Xie and Fan wanted to save the woman, the Sherpa they were traveling with initially declined. Xie reportedly offered him $10,000 as a rescue fee, which the guide accepted.

When the Sherpa followed up about his reward, the woman, who spent days recovering from the incident, said she couldn’t afford the entire fee, but offered to pay $4,000.

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The View From the Climbers

Fan, who did not complete his summit attempt because of the rescue, wants Liu to reimburse him and Xie the $5,000 they each offered to the Sherpa.

Speaking to Chinese outlet Shangyou News, Fan said: “I gave up my time and money to save her. And I still need to pay the rescue fee. I’m angry and want to know why [she won’t pay].”

Liu has faced backlash from the public for not reimbursing her rescuers, but Xie has said she should be left alone. “Saving her is our choice, and expressing gratitude is hers. These are two separate things,” he told the SCMP.

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Step Back

Earlier this month, reports surfaced that a Malaysian climber, Ravichandran Tharumalingam, was saved by Gelje Sherpa, 30, in a rare high-altitude rescue.

Gelje convinced the climber he was guiding to give up their summit attempt and help rescue Tharumalingam, since saving another life is “more important than praying at the monastery,” Reuters reported.

But Tharumalingam came under fire for his Instagram post where he thanked his rescue insurance and sponsors, but not his savior, and instead, according to Gelje, blocked him on Instagram.

Nepal has issued 478 permits to climb Everest this year, a record number. At least 12 climbers who have attempted the summit this year have died, according to Reuters, the most in eight years.