Lincoln Hall (Associated Press Photo)
SYDNEY (AP) - Mountaineer Lincoln Hall, who was rescued a day after being given up for dead near the summit of Everest in 2006, died Wednesday of cancer in Australia. He was 56.
Hall reached the peak of the world's highest mountain but became gravely ill from oxygen deprivation during the descent. His guides helped him initially then left to save their own lives.
American guide Daniel Mazur, his two clients and a Sherpa guide were just two hours from the 29,035-foot peak on the morning of May 26 when they came across Hall, who had been left alone a day earlier.
"I was shocked to see a guy without gloves, hat, oxygen bottles or sleeping bag at sunrise at 28,200 feet height, just sitting up there," Mazur told The Associated Press days after the rescue.
Mazur said Hall's first words to him were: "I imagine you are surprised to see me here."
Mazur's team pulled Hall away from the slopes, gave him bottled oxygen, food and liquids and radioed the base camp to tell Hall's surprised team he was still alive.
After he was helped down the mountain, he was taken to a clinic in Nepal's capital for treatment of a chest infection, fluid on his brain and frostbitten fingers.
He expressed no resentment about being left on the mountain, friend and spokesman Simon Balderstone said in Katmandu at the time. "We shared a joke or two, which is always a good sign," he said.
Balderstone was among those who confirmed his death at a Sydney hospital, a year after Hall had been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
A foundation he helped establish, Australian Himalayan Foundation, raised money for schools in the Himalayas. Hall remained committed to that work until his death, Balderstone said.
"Lincoln was an amazing human being," he said Wednesday. "The world was such a better place for his presence and now so much the poorer for his absence."
Hall's dramatic rescue on Everest left Mazur and his team too exhausted to resume their climb, but he said he had no regrets.
"You can always go back to the summit but you only have one life to live," he told AP in 2006. "If we had left the man to die, that would have always been on my mind. ... How could you live with yourself?"
Hall was born in Canberra, Australia's national capital, and climbed many of the world's highest peaks. He wrote books and articles and had photos published in climbing magazines.
Fellow mountaineer Peter Cocker accompanied Hall on his first trip to the Himalayas in 1978.
"He was truly the coolest person you could ever be in a tight spot with," Cocker said.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lungs most often caused by asbestos exposure. Hall was exposed to it while doing construction work early in his life.
He is survived by his wife and two sons.
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