Dead bodies on mountains – ethics and respect

01 Aug 2015

While K2 failed, as in five of the past seven years, to have any summits this year controversy has been caused in the adventure world by a promotional video from one of the teams that shows the smashed head of a diseased climber.

Anyone who wishes to know or view the video can find it out from www.explorersweb. However, here is my post on the Facebook page of the creator of the video, who I know and otherwise respect greatly, which will explain my views on showing film of dead climbers:


As per one mantra I live by, I am not going to write anything here that wouldn’t or won’t say to you direct – and am posting this on your page as you don’t apparently receive messages direct. You may not be able to read the comments flying about all over the world right now about this video, but your team who do your Facebook posts and promotions can. And I am surprised, at the least, at the inaction.....

It’s one thing to see dead corpses on the news or in documentaries, but, firstly, there is a code of ethics that always warns those watching that ‘some scenes may cause distress’, doesn’t show mangled corpses and rarely, if ever, shows a face – let alone one that has been pulverized as the poor soul in your video has. Secondly, this is not even a documentary or a news item but a promotional video sponsored by Mercedes Benz. Well I don’t know what they are thinking but I can categorically assure anyone reading this that my sponsors would have pulled this video the moment it went up. And thirdly, it has shown no respect for the families of all 81 climbers who have been killed on K2 since the 50s, particularly those of recent years who, in their shock, will now be asking whether the head is that of their late husband, brother, son or father. We all climbed on K2 in 2013 with Marty and Denali Schmidt who tragically perished while we survived, and I suggest you or your team read the post from Marty’s daughter/Denali’s sister, Sequoia Di Angelo, to see directly the distress this has caused.

Whoever the body is, in a family’s sadness there is a small crumb of comfort knowing that their loved ones are buried forever under the icy slopes of K2, having died doing what they loved to do. There is no comfort at all, indeed a huge amount of agony, in seeing a head whose jaw has been smashed sideways in a violent death.

With the greatest of respect I strongly suggest that this is taken down or edited out ASAP – and an apology given to the families of all those lost on the mountain for any distress caused.


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