Aide pays for 76-yr-old’s Everest record

July 6th, 2008 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS  


Kathmandu, July 6 (IANS) A Nepali helper who helped the world’s oldest climber summit Mt Everest this year has had to pay dearly for the record, losing his fingers and toes. Dharma Bahadur Rai was part of the six-member Senior Citizens’ Mount Everest Expedition that saw 76-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan conquer the 8,848-metre peak May 25 and add a new record in the nearly six-decade-long climbing annals of the world’s most charismatic mountain.

Sherchan became the oldest man to scale Mt Everest, smashing the record set the previous year by 71-year-old Japanese climber Katsusuke Yanagisawa.

While Sherchan is being lionised by Nepal, Rai has been languishing in a Kathmandu hospital where doctors amputated the fingers on both his hands as well as toes on his right foot.

A woeful Rai, with his hands and foot bandaged, told Nepal’s biggest selling daily Kantipur that he had to take off his gloves during the ascent to help Sherchan put on his clothes, socks and shoes.

He had to take off his gloves to do that and the chore took almost 10 to 15 minutes, causing him to suffer severe frost bite.

The suffering Rai, who says he can now never return to the profession that was his livelihood for 17 year, also alleges his fingers could have been saved had he received medical treatment in time.

He also says he did not get the money or the insurance he was promised he would receive.

Another climber, who was also part of the expedition, Bir Bahadur Gurung, told the daily though they had been promised they would be paid NRS 500,000, they received only one-fifth of that.

However, Rai added that record holder Sherchan was trying to persuade the insurance company to compensate him.

The senior citizen was also said to have approached the office of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who is 83, to ask for help.

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