Ex-soldier gave up Everest summit attempt to save fellow climber

Credit: Leslie Binns

A former soldier gave up on an attempt to scale Everest just a few hundred metres from the top to save the life of a fellow climber.

Leslie Binns took the decision to turn back so he could help an Indian woman named Sunita Hazra who was dangerously ill and suffering from hypothermia.

He has described how he also tried in vain to save the life of another climber on a perilous descent.

The ex-servicemen, who lost an eye from an explosion while serving Afghanistan, said his only regret was not being able to rescue the second ill climber.

Climbers regularly die while attempting to scale Mount Everest Credit: Phurba Tenjing Sherpa / Reuters

Mr Binns, of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, said he had been climbing up an area known as "the balcony" only around 400 metres from the top of Everest when he noticed a woman in trouble and sliding down the ropes.

"I helped her upright and looked at her oxygen regulator. It was registering empty" he said.

He helped Ms Hazra back up but she collapsed 20 metres further on - at which point he decided to cancel his attempt to reach the summit so he could get her back down safely, he told BBC news.

Mr Binns was forced to abandon a second climber on the mountain Credit: Leslie Binns / Facebook

As they made their way back down, they found another climber who had become ill and Mr Binns tried to help him back as well.

Both of the distressed climbers "kept collapsing", he said, adding: "I fell into waist-deep crevasses no less than five times, which was very tiring, and we were also crossing blue ice which was very dangerous as we kept slipping."

He was eventually forced to leave the second climber behind so he could get himself and Ms Hazra back to the camp where he helped treat her for hypothermia and severe frost bite on one hand.

Mr Binns said that he heard the second climber he was forced to leave crying out in the distance but was too exhausted to return to collect him., saying: "I literally collapsed".

Ms Hazra had developed hypothermia and frostbite Credit: Reuters

Ms Hazra, from near Kolkata in India, has since left hospital and her family have credited Mr Binns with saving her life.

"He's the reason why she is still alive now," said her brother Kingshuk Chatterjee. "He is a very brave man."

Mr Binns served in the army for 13 years, serving in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the BBC. He was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery for finding improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan in 2009.