Western mountain climbers allegedly left Pakistani porter to die on K2

Kristin Harila and her guide, Tenjin Sherpa, after their K2 climb.
(Image credit: Sunil Pradhan / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A Norwegian mountaineering team is accused of leaving an injured porter to die on Pakistan's K2 mountain this past July, allegedly choosing to continue their record-breaking climb instead of trying to rescue him.

The lead climber, Kristin Harila, along with her guide, Tenjin Sherpa, became the fastest two people to climb all 14 of the 'eight-thousanders' — mountains that are more than 8,000 meters tall. The pair's feat, though, has been eclipsed by new allegations that Harila and her group left Muhammad Hassan, a 27-year-old Pakistani porter and father of three, to die on the world's second-highest peak.

The accusations came from two other climbers, Wilhelm Steindl and Philip Flämig, who alleged that Harila, Sherpa, and more than 70 other total climbers bypassed Hassan, who had fallen from a dangerous portion of K2's trail and would later die. "There was no rescue mission," Steindl told Sky News in an interview, adding that there was "no attempt" to save Hassan.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Steindl noted that Hassan fell at the front of the pack, and that "70 mountaineers stepped over a living guy who needed big help at this moment, and they decided to keep on going to the summit."

Steindl also told The Associated Press he believed there was less concern given to Hassan because he was Pakistani. "There is a double standard here. If I or any other Westerner had been lying there, everything would have been done to save them" Steindl told the AP, adding that "everyone would have had to turn back to bring the injured person back down to the valley."

Harila has denied any wrongdoing, writing in a statement that Hassan's death "was no one's fault, you cannot comment when you do not understand the situation," and that contrary to reports, they did try to help him prior to his demise.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.