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Giving up the top of the world to save a man’s life

Canadian climber to speak about his 2006 Everest expedition at avalanche fundraiser



Sometimes getting to the top of the world isn’t the most important thing in life; it can be the split second decisions on the journey there that can change your life forever.

At least that’s what Andrew Brash believes.

In 2006 he didn’t achieve his lifelong dream of making it to the top of Mount Everest, despite being just 200 metres from the summit. Instead, he helped save a dying man’s life.

On Friday Feb. 22 Brash will be the keynote speaker at the Canadian Avalanche Foundation’s Whistler Gala Dinner ,with an important message about his Everest adventure that made headlines around the world.

“The message is that the summit is important but it’s not everything — there are more important things in life,” said this down-to-earth junior high school teacher from his Calgary home this week.

By all accounts, Brash should have made the summit that fateful day. The weather was clear and calm — perfect weather for a summit attempt — his team was feeling physically well, and he had the determination to finally realize this lifelong goal.

And then he met 50-year-old Lincoln Hall.

It was dawn, May 26 on the North Ridge of Mt. Everest, just below the Second Step at 28,000 feet — almost the top of the world.

Hall, who had become extremely sick on his decent from the summit, had spent the night on the side of Everest. He had been left there by a group of Sherpas who had been ordered to return to camp.

Amazingly, 12 hours later the Australian climber was awake and somewhat coherent, though still a very sick man. When Brash saw him for the first time he was slurring his words, with no gloves on, little equipment and his down suit unzipped to his waist.

“I thought ‘he’s going to die in the next couple of hours,’” recalled Brash, who couldn’t imagine how they were going to get Hall out of that situation and to safety.

“You’re really far up and along a horizontal ridge for a fair ways.”

Brash’s group, which included team leader Dan Mazur, British climber Myles Osborne and Jangbu Sherpa, never had a conversation about abandoning Lincoln and making a bid for the top. They never made a conscious decision to sit with Lincoln, offering their fluids and oxygen, coaxing him to put his gloves on his severely frostbitten hands. They just did it. For more than five hours.