Malaysian climber suffers backlash for not thanking Everest rescuer

By Hoang Nguyen   June 7, 2023 | 11:38 pm PT
Malaysian climber suffers backlash for not thanking Everest rescuer
Nima Tahi Sherpa walks as he carries a Malaysian climber after Gelje Sherpa rescued him from the death zone at Mount Everest, Nepal, May 18, 2023. Photo by Gelje Sherpa
A Malaysian climber was rescued from certain death on Mount Everest by a Nepali mountain guide but thanked his sponsors and insurance instead, fueling online anger.

Ravichandran Tharumalingam was on the verge of death when he was found by guide Gelje Sherpa and his Chinese client on May 18. Tharumalingam was stuck in the death zone of the mountain where oxygen is limited and temperature can drop to minus 30 degrees Celcius or lower.

Other teams climbed past Tharumalingam, but Gelje persuaded his client to stop and save the struggling climber.

"At the Balcony during our summit push around 8,300 m I saw someone in danger. A man who needed rescuing and no one else was helping," Gelje said on his Instagram.

He wrapped Tharumalingam in a sleeping mat and carried him on his back down 570 m to Everest Camp 4, where he received support from Nima Tahi Sherpa. It took him six hours, according to reports.

After the incident, Tharumalingam returned to Malaysia and told his story on national television.

In a recent Instagram post, Tharumalingam thanked his rescue insurance and partner organizations without mentioning his rescuer.

"I am alive today, because I had the best and dedicated partners – The 14th peaks Expedition Co and Global Rescue Ins," he wrote.

In another Instagram post, he thanked sponsors and again did not mention Gelje.

The posts were not well received by netizens, with negative comments pouring in, criticizing Tharumalingam for being ungrateful.

"You're alive thanks to Sherpa," one comment wrote.

After getting blasted, Tharumalingam finally acknowledged Gelje in a list of people who contributed to saving his life.

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