June 14, 2012
An Israeli Climber Saves a Turkish Climber on Mount Everest
Ever since the disaster on Mount Everest in 1996 as documented by Jon Krakauer in his bestselling book Into Thin Air, I have wondered what kind of person would need to climb the tallest mountain in the world (29,029 feet; 8,848 meters).
I once asked my brother who is an avid naturalist and hiker, likes altitudinous places, and who is adventurous but not crazy, if he had ever considered climbing Everest.
Thankfully, he said, “No!”
“Are you certain?” I pursued.
“Yes. No way!” And so I stopped worrying.
May is the time of year when people who like pushing beyond their limitations may try for the summit of Everest. The Guardian reported last month a remarkable event that took place on the mountain: an Israeli climber, Nadav Ben Yehuda, saved a Turkish-American climber, Aydin Irmak, and “carried [Irmak] on his back for eight hours.”
To appreciate the magnitude of this selfless and highly unusual feat, which Ben Yehuda characterized as “automatic” (he is a former IDF soldier and was trained never to leave a fellow soldier injured or dying on the battleground), note this passage from the blog accompanying the article describing the physical and mental effects on a human being at that elevation and the ethical challenges that come with being there:
Nadav Ben Yehuda is an extraordinary individual to have even attempted to climb this mountain. That he saved another human being in the way he did is even more unusual. And given the enmity created between Turkey and Israel by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is one of the world’s most relentless and unfair critics and haters of Israel, the story is even more noteworthy.
However, it is likely that Nadav had no idea that Aydin is an American-Turk. Nadav was simply a climber and he saw another climber in desperate need. Selflessly, he responded and saved a life at the risk of his own.
From whence came his strength on that mountain to carry another human being for eight hours? Who knows?
From whence came his moral fortitude to dispense with the ethic that says ‘each man for himself?’ Clearly, his training as a soldier in the IDF buttressed by the ethics of his nation that emphasizes that the fate of one is the fate of all.
From the top of the earth, far above the fray of distrust, politics and tribe, Nadav Ben Yehuda acted the life of a tzadik, a wholly righteous man!
To Nadav Ben Yehuda—Kol hakavod! You make me proud!