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Belfast man who scaled Everest hits out at mountaineers using oxygen during Covid crisis in Nepal


Dawson Stelfox (left) and Frank Nugent.

Dawson Stelfox (left) and Frank Nugent.

Dawson Stelfox.

Dawson Stelfox.

Dawson Stelfox.

Dawson Stelfox.


Dawson Stelfox (left) and Frank Nugent.

A Belfast architect who became the first Irishman to scale Everest has said he is appalled at the amount of high altitude climbers using oxygen in the Himalayas during a serious spike in coronavirus in Nepal.

Dawson Stelfox’s comments were reported in the  Times Newspaper and called it “obscene” to be using oxygen for recreational climbing as “people are dying in Kathmandu and other places”.

It’s reported that the spread of Covid-19 cases in neighbouring India has spread into Nepal, with 8,064 new cases and 246 new deaths recorded on Wednesday.

Out of a population of 30 million people, there has been 5,700 deaths and just under half a million cases in total.

The pressure caused by the surge in cases has been magnified by a lack of  intensive care beds, oxygen and ventilators prompting an appeal for international aid.

Mr Stelfox first realised his dream to conquer Everest on May 29 in 1993. His deputy leader on that expedition, Frank Nugent, has also described the current use of the oxygen by commercial climbing expeditions as “unconscionable”.

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Both made the comments during a Mountaineering Ireland online lecture this week discussing the first reconnaissance expedition to Everest led by Chalres Howard Bury from Co Westmeath.

“The images on social media of oxygen cylinders stashed at base camp to indulge rich westerners when Nepali people are dying is pretty awful, and I believe mountaineering as a sport should disassociate itself from this sort of activity,” Mr Stelfox said.

President of the Nepal Ireland Society, Deepesh Man Shakya, has now called on all mountaineers to donate their oxygen supplies to hospitals struggling to cope.

“I understand if oxygen is already on the mountain, but if oxygen is due to be delivered, it should be sent to hospitals,” he said.

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