CHINA — Last month, Fan Jiangtao (范江涛) and Xie Ruxiang(谢如祥), both team leader and member of the Hunan Mountaineering Team, received widespread praise on Chinese social media for their courageous act of rescuing a dying 50-year-old female climber, despite having to abandon their lifelong dream of conquering the summit of Everest.
At that critical moment, they were merely 400 meters away from the summit when they made the difficult decision to forsake their ascent and prioritize the rescue of the woman.
It should be noted that rescuing or assisting others above 8000 meters is considered extremely perilous for the rescuers and is usually discouraged.
Mr Fan vividly recalled that even their experienced Sherpa guide advised against the rescue. However, after taking just a few steps forward, Fan was overcome with emotions and tears, prompting him to abandon his personal summit attempt and dedicate himself to saving her life.
With this decision, Mr Fan’s arduous preparation of over 40 days, the substantial investment of nearly 400,000 yuan (approximately US$62,600), and the ultimate goal of reaching the summit, all ended up being futile.
He said, “We are all from Hunan, and as the team leader and commander, I am also quite familiar with the incident involving Chen Xuebin, a mountaineer from Guizhou who died on May 18th on Everest. ”
“When I saw that it was a Chinese person, I instinctively wanted to understand the situation.”
Upon closer examination, Mr Fan discovered that the woman was devoid of oxygen, experiencing uncontrollable shivering, and had lost one of her gloves, resulting in severe frostbite that turned her hand black.
Later, he learned that the woman’s name was Ms Liu, which surprised him since they had previously asked her if she was heading to Mount Everest, to which she had responded negatively. However, it turned out that she had registered for the expedition and arrived on her own without their knowledge.
Fan refilled Ms Liu’s oxygen cylinder using his own supply and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on her. He also helped her consume hot water, sugar, and chocolate.
Once the woman regained full consciousness, Fan and his guide assisted her in descending the mountain.
At an altitude of 8,300 meters, the exhausted Fan encountered his teammate, Mr. Xie, who was still ascending.
Mr Xie promised his Sherpa guide a reward of US$10,000 if he rescues Ms Liu
“It’s necessary to save her. but It’s the right thing to do. Even if it means carrying down a lifeless body,” said Mr Xie.
Xie, a 57-year-old former president of the Peking University Mountaineering Society, then informed the Sherpa guide of his decision to forgo the summit and rescue the woman. He pledged a reward of US$10,000 upon safely bringing Ms Liu back to Camp 4 (C4).
After more than four hours of rescue efforts, Ms Liu was finally brought to safety at C4 and later escorted by her own climbing team.
According to Nepali officials, as the spring climbing season concludes, there have already been 12 fatalities and five individuals reported missing on Everest this year.
Media article reported that the woman allegedly agree to pay only 4,000 USD
However, there has been an unexpected and recent development in this matter. On Monday (5 June), an article titled “Woman Saved on Everest Refuses to Pay $10,000 Rescue Fee” went viral, sparking extensive discussions online.
According to the Chinese media outlet Upstream News (上游新闻）, they received a message on Weibo stating that the woman in question, Ms Liu, was only willing to pay US$4,000 to the Sherpa guide who saved her life instead of the promised US$10,000 rescue fee.
The article mentioned that reporter contacted Mr Fan, who confirmed the situation and expressed his anger. He has made the decision to personally bear the cost along with Mr Xie.
Mr Fan added that they returned to China on the same flight, but they have not seen each other since then.
“The Sherpa guide became impatient and kept urging us for the money. So I asked a friend to contact her (Ms Liu) to see what her stance was.”
To his surprise, Ms Liu allegedly agreed to only paying US$4,000, out of the promised rescue fee of US$10,000 to be paid to the Sherpa guide.
Out of anger, Mr Fan told her, “If you’re going to talk like that, I don’t want a single penny from you. You don’t need to give me anything.”
Mr Fan and Mr Xie were reportedly covered the rescue fee at their own expense.
“Both Mr Xie and I contributed US$5,000 each, and we gave the Sherpa guide US$10,000 on 3 June.”
A search on Weibo revealed discussions suggesting that the woman in question, Ms Liu Qunying (刘群英), is a bank employee who was even reported by local media for her trip to Everest.
Local media claimed Ms Liu went to Changsha and expressed express her gratitude to the rescuer
According to the latest report by the National Business Daily (每日经济新闻) on Wednesday (7 June), the rescued woman arrived in Hunan Changsha and met with Mr Fan and Mr Xie.
The article mentioned that Mr Fan confirmed it was their first meeting with Ms Liu since their return from Mount Everest.
However, he did not disclose the details of their conversation. Mr Xie also confirmed to the reporter that Ms Liu came to express her gratitude to them.
Mr Fan appealed to netizens to stop harassing Ms Liu
On 6 June, Mr. Fan posted an update on his Weibo account, and appealed to netizens and fellow Weibo users to stop harassing Ms Liu.
He reiterated that neither he nor Mr Xie had thought much about the situation when they were rescuing the woman’s life.
He mentioned that the development of the situation had taken an unexpected turn after someone privately shared their conversation, and he expressed the hope that the matter can now come to an end and not be brought up again in the future.
“We saved her, and we also hope that she can live a good life. We hope that the online community will refrain from engaging in doxxing, attacks, insults, and similar behaviors, and put an end to online violence.”
Mr Xie added, “We hope that the media and fellow journalists can understand and promote positive energy. Currently, we do not wish to respond to this matter.”