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By Adrian Roberts-Dearing
From Bend, Oregon
Jan 28, 2013
Squamish Bouldering
I'm taking an ethical issue course in outdoor leadership and the issue of removing bodies from Everest was brought up... what do y'all think?

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By William Domhart
From Ventucky, CA
Jan 28, 2013
Traverse by HWY 41 Cave
What's the ethical issue? We'd remove dead bodies from just about everywhere else. What makes Everest different other than the possible danger of doing it?

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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Jan 28, 2013
The danger in removing them is the only reason we dont usually remove bodies from Everest. There is no ethical or moral reason to leave them up there.

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By randy88fj62
Jan 28, 2013
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades
A very similar situation arose when a caver got stuck. SAR tried for days to rescue him without success. In the end they closed up the cave with the body inside.

This is similar to Everest in that getting the bodies out / down the mountain would require tons of resources and potential danger to those doing the recovery.

I've taken very rudimentary Caving SAR practice and they tell you to take care of yourself first, your team next, and the victims last.

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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Jan 28, 2013
Epic free solo with a pack on
John Wilder wrote:
The danger in removing them is the only reason we dont usually remove bodies from Everest. There is no ethical or moral reason to leave them up there.



the balance between risking the life of the people removing the bodies versus the families' 'rights' to their family members' remains is an ethical issue if you ask me.

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By William Domhart
From Ventucky, CA
Jan 28, 2013
Traverse by HWY 41 Cave
Elaborate Ben...I'm curious what your logic is?

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By Christian
From Casa do Cacete
Jan 28, 2013
Mistah Kurtz
From a deontological or utilitarian perspective? lol

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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Jan 28, 2013
Epic free solo with a pack on
Oh! I'm not taking a side to the ethical issue. I'm just point out that the dilemma of whether or not to remove bodies from Everest can be boiled down to an ethical issue. People generally have the belief that they have a right to their family members' remains, but the SAR removing the bodies have an arguably higher or more real right to the protection of their own livelihoods. Gnome sayin?

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By TWK
Jan 28, 2013
Is it reasonable for anyone who ventures into potentially extreme environments to presume that they are guaranteed passage home, whether they are extant or extinct?

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By Woodchuck ATC
Jan 28, 2013
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
If the victims are swallowed up deep in a cravasse, they will stay there and head down the mountain over the next century. Others frozen in place high above camp 4 become pretty hard to remove and transport. Some families actually have accepted their loved one being left there, where they lived the life they wanted. Not sure ethics are really involved much. Maybe the ethical question should be about the hundreds of people who pay their way to be there, and physically have no business being on Everest where they don't pull their own weight and endanger the rest of the group with their weakness.

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By MJMobes
From The land of steady habits
Jan 28, 2013
modern man
I'd think one could just trundle all the bodies down the mountain on the way up without losing much time or safety.

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By TWK
Jan 28, 2013
TRmasta wrote:
I'd think one could just trundle all the bodies down the mountain on the way up without losing much time or safety.

Now THAT'S an ethical quandary!

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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Jan 28, 2013
Epic free solo with a pack on
Woodchuck ATC wrote:
Maybe the ethical question should be about the hundreds of people who pay their way to be there, and physically have no business being on Everest where they don't pull their own weight and endanger the rest of the group with their weakness.


True that

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By Brendan Blanchard
From Strafford, NH
Jan 28, 2013
Obi Wan Ryobi - Darth Vader Crag, Rumney NH
In either The Beckoning Silence, or Eiger Dreams, there is chapter where the author talks about removing Hillarys (? other famout Mtneer) body, and how his personal effects were taken as prized relics of mountaineering, it's a pretty disturbing story.

I'm foggy on the details, but I remember it being pretty out of hand.

Edit: It also talks about the ethics of the commercialization of Everest. Still can't remember which book though.

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By Dustin Drake
Jan 28, 2013
What is the argument for this even being considered an ethics issue?

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By Hmann2
Jan 28, 2013
the fridge leavenworth
Looking at the issue from a Utilitarian perspective. What is the benefit of removing the bodies? The cost and risk to remove the bodies is higher than the benefit or value of leaving them in place. There is also an assumption of risk in mountaineering, anyone attempting to climb these mountains automatically assumes that dying and having your body left on the mountain is a VERY real possibility.

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By JesseT
From Portland, OR
Jan 28, 2013
25' drop...wheeeeee!
I think Ben nailed it. The core of the ethical issue is this.

-All other things being equal, it is more ethical to retrieve the bodies than to leave them.

-All other things being equal, it is unethical place others' lives at risk on your behalf.

So, which of these becomes more important? The ethical quandry lies in resolving these two assertions.

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By Wannabe
Jan 28, 2013
For God's sake do yourself and your professor a favor and don't use/cite/waste time on here for your paper!

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By Adrian Roberts-Dearing
From Bend, Oregon
Jan 28, 2013
Squamish Bouldering
Wannabe wrote:
For God's sake do yourself and your professor a favor and don't use/cite/waste time on here for your paper!


The only reason I posted this is when asked my topic for a paper, my professor was surprised and told me this was something he never thought about. So I wanted the opinions of other climbers.

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By Christian
From Casa do Cacete
Jan 29, 2013
Mistah Kurtz
The problem is, people write these papers without even trying to define what they mean by the "ethically correct" alternative.

You could define it as the alternative which you believe will create a net benefit, in aggregate, for all the people involved (utilitarian/consequentialist ethics). The motivational problem is that people act in their own self-interest and don't receive costs and benefits as a group but individually. So there will always be those whose help is needed but figure it's a net cost to them individually. In which case you have to add further incentives for those people, which then changes the original calculation above.

Also, for your analysis to have any value, you can't leave it at the level of abstraction of whether it's "the" right thing to clean bodies; that's useless. You'd have to have a highly specific concrete proposal for HOW you're gonna do do it before you could even begin to calculate possible expected consequences.

Will the big Western expeditions pool money and hire Sherpas to do it?
Will the Sherpa association do it on its own volition with no outside payment?
Will the Nepalese government get involved
Will the Chinese military do it on the North Side?
If it's made a volunteer-only thing to reduce costs, will anybody show up?

Personally, I'm pretty cynical about Everest and I think a big part of the whole "macho" experience they're selling is being able to, whether you summit or not, go back to the cocktail party and say "wow, it was so intense, I had to climb past all these dead bodies."

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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Jan 29, 2013
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
listen. people who die there are mountaineers.

I gauruntee theyd rather have their body frozen in time on everest than have people risk life and limb to bring it back and stick it in a plot of soil in whatever country they are from.

at least I would. its a much better grave.

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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Jan 29, 2013
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
Brendan Blanchard wrote:
In either The Beckoning Silence, or Eiger Dreams, there is chapter where the author talks about removing Hillarys (? other famout Mtneer) body, and how his personal effects were taken as prized relics of mountaineering, it's a pretty disturbing story. I'm foggy on the details, but I remember it being pretty out of hand. Edit: It also talks about the ethics of the commercialization of Everest. Still can't remember which book though.


It cant be eiger dreams since it was written before mallorys body was found.

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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jan 29, 2013
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.
I'm sure the relatives of the dead up on Everest would be receptive to someone bringing down those bodies. No one has stepped forward to do it yet. But I don't see any ethical issue with it at all if you want to take the risks.

Years ago in a Mexican cave a guy fell to his death and there was an uproar from the people that controlled the cave against using the anchors to do a body haul. They contended that it was best to just bury him in situ. Kind of a harsh pronouncement from people with a vested interest in the matter. In a year, a team of Polish cavers offered to do a body recovery and they went ahead and did it without the blessing of the naysayers and everything went fine.

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By frankstoneline
Jan 29, 2013
superkick wrote:
listen. people who die there are mountaineers. I gauruntee theyd rather have their body frozen in time on everest than have people risk life and limb to bring it back and stick it in a plot of soil in whatever country they are from. at least I would. its a much better grave.


but should they be allowed to leave their personal refuse on the mountain? You can't bury granny in a city park no matter how much she likes it there, should you be allowed to "bury" yourself on Everest?

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By robrobrobrob
Jan 29, 2013
Yeah, it's all about cultural context. Retrieve WHO's body? the answer is different for a 'Merican and a Nepali. (And so on and so on) The dilemma isn't a specific ethical question, but rather whether the cultural value of the remains is worth the potential risk to retrieve them.

The caving stories are interesting, in Utah, they "closed the cave", but then went back later with better tools and recovered the body. In NY, we just kept working until the recovery happened. At least the NY one was as much about having immediately available resources more than any cultural or loved ones desire. Secretly I think a bunch of the people were at the rescue because it was better than being at work!

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By scott e. tarrant
From Fort Collins
Jan 29, 2013
kate!
if a new island was discovered and it's inhabitants grew an inescapable urge to "conquer" longs peak (very remote, very isolated, very far from their back yard, very, very much out of their cultural framework) and they littered their empty O2 bottles and their dead, would that qualify as an ethical issue for colorado residents? that is the only real ethical question i can contrive of the question. i mean, i can see the diamond from my back yard but i certainly can't see climbers (living or dead) but i would still be against the littering of it (with anything...). it's more romantic for us to be left as climbersicles but i imagine that for the folks who have the great fortune of seeing that mtn from their back yard, we are trash and litter. the fact that these newly discovered and very wealthy islanders (let's call them merikans) did not do the necessary training to climb the diamond without oxygen (the islands high point is just over 7,000'), they argue that it is actually smarter to climb it with supplemental O2...their research indicates that brain cells die in low O2 environments, although nearly all of the residents who climb it regularly do so without supplemental O2 and hardly ever die...heck a few of the locals even make a living getting the merikans up it! it drives a big part of the CO economy and we all know that is what's important...i mean the merikans have tons of ipads and smart phones and skinny jeans and web pages where they discuss the merits of risking their lives to climb mountains and the risk of getting their dead back home...we would have a better quality of life if we had that stuff too...gotta grow the economy.

of course i'm just being silly but for my .02, that is the only ethical or moral issue i see. the other comments re: risk/reward/SAR things are spot on.
good luck with your paper. i think it's cool that you have the opportunity to investigate these questions! if anything is to change, it will be a function of these questions.

scott

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