Whose Fault Was it That High Altitude Porter Muhammad Hassan Died on K2?

What was Muhammad Hassan even doing at over 8,000 metres on K2?

From reports he was inexperienced, his gear was inadequate, he wasn’t using oxygen and he somehow managed to slip off the trail.

Yes it was dark, yes he was very high up, yes he could of been in one of the many small avalanches that occurred.

But should he have even started up the mountain?

Was it then his fault for leaving Base Camp so ill-prepared for the heights?

Yet driven by an altruism to assist his family, there he was.

Mohammad Hassan

If it wasn’t his fault, as driven by noble causes he decided to climb anyway, where were his team?

He was employed by Lela expeditions and was ultimately assisting the rope fixers for Seven Summit Treks. Did they simply designate a High Altitude Porter, and a payment to incentivise him, and send him off without any basic checks on his climbing background or equipment?

Were they aware of his inexperience, did they know his harness would simply tip him upside down when he needed it?

Maybe it was their fault? Sending someone off so ill-prepared for climbing up into the death zone? And then being unable to assist him in his hour of need?

So now we have Muhammad Hassan leaving Base Camp, believing he can climb and carry gear to the top, and make some money to help his family.

He is part of a team, but without any sense of team or support it would seem.

And he somehow slips off the trail, reportedly ends up upside down, without any gloves or oxygen, and with his mid-section exposed to the cold.

But there are many climbers around: right in front of him, beside him and even more lined up behind him. That much is obvious from the photos.

Certainly a few climbers could do more to help, get him up back up onto the trail, provide oxygen, perhaps stabilize him and slide him back down the rope?

Yes, very difficult and dangerous, with avalanches pouring down, oxygen being depleted by the minute and communications nearly impossible across climbers and teams, but it was either helping or climbing right over someone obviously in need.

Perhaps it was those climbers fault? Every single one of the climbers who stepped over him on the way up and didn’t choose to help in a meaningful way?

Then there are all of us watching: the disturbing photos, reading the commentary, the inflammatory comments, liking, disliking and hating (the algorithms like hating best) until it goes from a climbing story, to a major media story, with its attendant commentary, denials and strident points of views.

So maybe it is our fault? With our clicks and our comments and articles (yes even this one) that drives the interest, fuels the egos and amplifies the death and the drama that surrounds climbing?

For every fault there is an excuse, an escape clause.

There was a noble cause, an independent team, the myriad of challenges of 8,000 plus metres.

And from far below, it is easy to have an opinion.

So it ends up being everyone and nobodies fault, which is convenient.

It dilutes the sense of honor we once felt as climbers.

We can mitigate responsibility for ourselves, expecting others to rescue us. Our sense of comradeship and trust in our team is diminished, if not obliterated.

And the sense of climbing embodying higher ideals, encompassed by our shared love of climbing in the high mountains, has now too passed away.


Should you wish to support Muhammad Hassan’s family, the GoFundMe campaign is open now.