Left to Die: Dan Mazur's Act of Courage and Compassion

by John from Olympia

Dan Mazur, Team Leader

On the morning of May 26th, 2006, Dan Mazur was leading a team of climbers on a planned ascent up the north ridge of Mount Everest to its summit. Mr. Mazur’s team of climbers consisted of himself, Andrew Brash, Myles Osborne and Jangbu Sherpa. The team was feeling strong and healthy. There were no winds or clouds. Conditions seemed perfect for climbing to the summit.

The Team - Andrew Brash, Myles Osborne and Jangbu Sherpa

At 7:30 AM, eight hours into their ascent and two hours below the summit, the men encountered a stricken climber at an altitude of approximately 28,000 feet. The fallen climber was an Australian named Lincoln Hall. He was sitting on the trail with his jacket around his waist, wearing no hat or gloves. The group stopped to investigate and found he was suffering from symptoms of edema, frostbite and dehydration. He was alone and hallucinating; and generally incoherent in his responses to their offers of help. He was without any of the proper equipment for survival in such conditions. Apparently, Mr. Hall had collapsed the previous day on his way down from the summit. The North Ridge is an inhospitable place. Besides being at 28,000 feet, it is located along a severe ridgeline, dropping off 10,000 feet to one side and 7,000 feet to the other. Oxygen and proper equipment are virtually essential to survival.

Makalu, world's fifth highest peak. View as seen by Lincoln as he waited.

Mazur’s party quickly decided to give up their own summit attempt to save Mr. Hall. They anchored him to the mountain, replaced the hat, jacket and gloves he had discarded, and gave him their own oxygen, food and water. They radioed Hall’s team, who had given him up for dead. Mazur convinced them that Hall was still alive and must and could be saved. (Mr. Hall’s team leader had called his wife the night before to tell her that Hall was dead.)

Lincoln Hall from Australia, when he was found.

The rescuers arranged for Sherpas from Hall’s team to ascend and help with the rescue. Mazur’s group stayed four hours to care for Mr. Hall. Phil Crampton coordinated the rescue from the high camp at 26,000 feet and Kipa Sherpa acted as liaison to Lincoln Hall’s team at advance base camp at 21,000 feet. Extended stays at extreme altitude are risky even when planned in advance and when climbers have all the supplies they need. Going to the summit after so many hours spent helping Hall was out of the question. By using their own survival supplies to sustain Hall, Mazur and his team risked worsening weather conditions that could have severely inhibited their own descent. Clearly, these men sacrificed a lifetime dream and risked their own lives to save Lincoln Hall.

Recovering Lincoln Hall from Australia

In addition to being an expedition leader, Mazur is also involved in starting hospitals and schools in poor parts of Nepal where 4000 people live cut off from any roads, electricity, phones or running water. He continues to be involved in raising money and managing those projects on a constant basis.