Israeli mountaineer Nadav Ben Yehuda was 300 meters from Mount Everest’s summit when he turned back in order to save the life of an injured Turkish climber.
Hailed as a ‘hero’, the 24-year-old Israeli said his choice to forgo his dream of reaching the world’s highest peak was obvious.
Ben Yehuda had trained for two years to conquer Everest and would have become the youngest Israeli to summit. His plans changed when he saw 46-year-old Aydin Irmak’s body sprawled on the mountainside.
“There was no question,” Ben Yehuda told The Jerusalem Post regarding his decision.
Ben Yehuda said he had already passed two other dead climbers before coming across his friend from Base Camp. The Israeli told Israel Radio that before he rescued Irmak he had helped a Briton and a Georgian climber.
Both Ben Yehuda and Irmak suffered severe frostbite on the rescue descent and doctors are waiting to see whether Ben Yehuda will have to amputate some of his fingers.
“Nadav saved my life,” Turkish climber Irmak told the Post.
While Turkish-Israeli relations on the national level are icy, the two climbers have such a warm relationship that they even told reporters they see each other as family. Moreover, Irmak said he is already planning his next ascent of Everest – and hopes Ben Yehuda will be his climbing partner on such a future endeavor.