The David Sharp Controversy: What Really Happened on Everest?

David Sharp, “The Controversial Death on Mount Everest.” Sharp was an English professional mountaineer who died either reaching the summit or almost reaching the World’s Highest Peak, Mount Everest, 8848.86m. Why is his death so controversial and the subject of debate? Sharp was abandoned by several other ascending and descending climbers from the summit as he struggled to live. However, many other climbers have tried to help him.

David Sharp Bio

Harpenden, England native David Sharp was born on 15th February 1972 to Linda Sharp and John Sharp. He has an elder brother named Paul.

Growing up in England, he first gained climbing experience from the Roseberry Topping.

Upon high school graduation, he joined Prior Pursglove College. After that, he attended the University of Nottingham and enrolled in the university’s mountaineering club, where his passion for climbing blossomed.

As a Mechanical Engineering graduate, Sharp served the global security company QinetiQ.

Sharp left QinetiQ in 2005 to take a teacher training course. He passed his PGCE and secured a teaching post. He was planning to begin as a teacher in the autumn of 2006. The dream which would never come true.

David Sharp’s Expeditions and summits

Sharp had bagged his first central peak, the Matterhorn (4,478 m) in the Swiss Alps. Later, he went on to other, higher mountains: the tallest of Europe, Mount Elbrus (5,642 m), and Africa’s most elevated peak, Kilimanjaro (5,895 m);

In 2001, Sharp joined the Gasherbrum II expedition, an 8,035 m (26,362 ft), led by Henry Todd. The peak is located on the border of Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan, and Xinjiang, China. However, the expedition was unsuccessful due to bad weather.

Then, Sharp took time off from his job to backpack through South America and Southeast Asia.

Sharp joined an Irish expedition for his most extensive trial the following year: Cho Oyu 8,201 m (26,906 ft) high , the world’s sixth-highest peak. Richard Dougan and McGuinness of the Himalayan Project led the expedition. However, his second expedition was unsuccessful, with one of his team members falling into a crevasse.

Dougan was amazed by Sharp’s climbing skill and how quickly he acclimated to the thin air. Dougan stated Sharp as “definitely the strongest member of our team.”

5-foot-11 tall, weighing 150 pounds, Sharp had no body fat. He had to spare and move fast to keep himself warm. Body fat can be essential to survival.

After Sharp reached the top of Cho Oyu with ease, Dougan invited him to join a 2003 expedition to Everest, along with other team members: McGuinness, Martin Duggan, Terence Bannon, and Stephen Synnott. However, Bannon and McGuinness only summited, but the group incurred no fatalities.

Though Sharp had acclimatized well, he started to have severe frostbite. Since he was the most vital team member of the expedition, most agreed to turn back with him from their Everest Dream.

Dougan and Sharp aided a Spanish ascending climber on the way down, giving him some extra oxygen. Sharp lost most of his left big toe and part of the second toe on his right foot in that expedition due to the frostbite.

In 2004, Sharp once again tried to fulfill his Everest Dream. He joined a Franco-Austrian expedition led by Hugues d’Aubarede. The expedition members include Paul Koller, Fredrichs Klausner, and Austrians Marcus Noichl. Also, there was Nepalese climber in the group: Chhang Dawa Sherpa, Lhakpa Gyalzen Sherpa, and Zimba Zangbu Sherpa.

Sharp wanted to climb alone without using supplemental oxygen. However, D’Aubarede disagreed with Sharp’s things. Hence, Sharp returned from the expedition without summiting. D’Aubarede and the team summited on 17th May 2004 on the morning, D’Aubarede becoming the 56th French person to summit Everest. Unfortunately, D’Aubarede died in the 2006 K2 disaster.

Forever On Everest

david sharp memorial
David Sharp Memorial


In 2006, Sharp attempted Everest Summit for 3rd time, arranged by Asian Trekking. This time, Sharp would submit solo without using supplemental oxygen. This would ultimately cost Sharp life.

Asian Trekking package provided him with a basic package that only included a permit, a trip to Tibet, oxygen equipment, transportation, food, and tents up to Mount Everest Advance Base Camp (6,340 m 20,800 ft). The package does not provide a Sherpa to guide him. However, Sherpa Guide was accessible if only Sharp paid an additional fee, but Sharp did not opt for it.

Sharp was teamed up with 13 other independent climbers, Sharp’s group was not an expedition since there was no one to lead the group.

Sharp began his last Everest journey without carrying enough supplementary oxygen and radio to communicate if he faced any problems. As per the report, he only had two bottles of supplemental oxygen which would be enough for about 8 to 10 hours of climbing at high altitude.

It’s still unknown if Sharp reached the summited or not on 14th May. Later, Sharp was discovered sitting with arms clasped around his legs next to Green Boots. He had a bivouac on the mountain at 8,500 m (28,000 ft).

Could David Sharp be saved?

Rescue on Everest and definitely above 8000m in the death zone is next to impossible. If this answer doesn’t satisfy you well, then: If only Sharp had been in the hand of a well-resourced and expensive expedition with around many bravest Sherpas to carry him, sufficient supplemental oxygen with medical attention at the high camp.

Who found David Sharp?

Many climbing and descending people had encountered Sharp, but only Lebanese mountaineer Maxime Chaya dared to look after Sharp.

Following a summit bid on May 15, 2006, Chaya encountered David Sharp, who was short for this world. Chaya and his Tibetan Sherpa Dorjee gave their whole heart to help Sharp, who would eventually be on Everest forever. The duo spent more than an hour desperately trying to rescue him.

Sadly, Sharp was already unconscious, and his body froze into ice from the knees down. Neither did he respond to the oxygen administered, nor could he communicate.

Chaya stated, “He was much closer to death than he was to live.”

Is David Sharp’s Body Is Still In The Green Boots Cave?

The answer is No. David Sharp’s body has been removed from the Green Boots Cave.

After Sharp death on May 15, 2006, his frozen body was in the cave for about a year. Then, the following year, his family asked for it to be shifted from the people’s sight, Sherpas moved Sharp from the cave and interned his body in the mountain.

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