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Thursday, May 25, 2006 - Page updated at 01:52 PM

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Everest pioneer appalled that climber was left to die

The Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Mount Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary said Wednesday he was shocked that dozens of climbers left a British mountaineer to die during their own attempts on the world's tallest peak.

David Sharp, 34, died apparently of oxygen deficiency while descending from the summit during a solo climb last week.

More than 40 climbers are thought to have seen him as he lay dying, and almost all continued to the summit without offering assistance.

"Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain," Hillary was quoted as saying in an interview with New Zealand Press Association.

New Zealander Mark Inglis, who became the first double amputee to reach the mountain's summit on prosthetic legs, told Television New Zealand that his party stopped during its May 15 summit to give Sharp oxygen, and sent out a radio distress call before continuing to the summit.

He said there was virtually no hope that Sharp could have been carried to safety from his position about 1,000 feet short of the 29,035-foot summit.

Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953 became the first mountaineers to reach Everest's summit.

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