Malaysian mountaineer, Ravichandran Tharumalingam has been garnering plenty of attention online recently, not for his expedition to the Mount Everest but his disregard of the sherpa that brought him to safety.
Ravichandran was found by a 30-year-old sherpa named Gelje on May 18 at the ‘death zone’, 8,500m above ground where the pressure of oxygen is insufficient to sustain human life for an extended period of time.
Discovered at the summit of Sagarmatha, Ravichandran was in a critical condition due to the lack of oxygen and harsh weather conditions at such high-altitude.
Gelje told CNN in an interview: “I saw a person stranded alone on the ridge. He was frozen and trembling, and no one else seemed to be aware of his presence.”
Gelje, who has 140,000 followers on Instagram, holds the record for being the youngest person to summit the “killer mountain” K2 in winter.
Aware that his Chinese clients had paid him to guide them to the summit, he persuaded them to quit their ascent so as to save the abandoned climber when he was at the brink of death, he told CNN.
“When I found him in that state, my heart did not let me leave him there. Rescuing him was my priority. Money can be earned later,” Gelje said.
Gelje added that many teams simply climbed past the stranded climber without noticing him.
Gelje wrapped Ravichandran up in a sleeping mat and carried him on his back, descending 570m in six hours at extreme altitude until he reached Camp 4, where other rescuers took over.
Upon reaching the base camp, Gelje’s teammate Tashi sherpa mobilised a rescue company which airlifted Ravichandran in a helicopter to a Kathmandu hospital for treatment.
News of Ravichandran’s dramatic rescue was received with much fanfare in Malaysia, where he also made an appearance on national TV.
However, he soon received criticisms from netizens for not once acknowledging the person who saved his life.
In an Instagram post on June 3, he only mentioned and thanked his expedition partners, sponsors and the helicopter rescue team.
Even as he promoted his customised T-shirt and an upcoming climb to Mount Rinjani and Mount Kilimanjaro on Instagram following this, netizens observed that he still did not give appreciation to Gelje and his fellow sherpas for their selfless act.
According to screenshots shared by a TikTok user on June 6, Ravichandran went as far as to block Gelje on Instagram.
Appalled by Ravichandran’s behaviour, netizens began to slam him on social media for his lack of gratitude and disrespect to Gelje.
Many online also noticed that Ravichandran began to block and delete their negative comments on his posts.
In response, Gelje wrote: “Thank you, hope you are recovering well.”
Since the incident, Gelje has been showered with praise by Malaysians on social media for his heroic act where they thanked him for rescuing Ravichandran.