A mountaineering company has covered the costs of the rescue of a climber on Mount Qomolangma and has called on netizens to stop bullying her online after she was accused of refusing to pay the full cost of her rescue, which took place some 8,000 meters up the mountain.
The company, Kaitu Expedition, said that it was their fault that their client, a woman surnamed Liu, was left facing difficulties alone on May 18 at a height of over 8,400 meters on the Nepali side of Qomolangma, which is also known as Mount Everest.
On May 18, Liu was found alone and in difficulty by a team of climbers — including two Chinese and their Sherpa guide — on their way to the summit. To rescue the woman, they decided to abandon their climb and covered the cost of her rescue, which was about $10,000.
The woman has since recovered and was then accused of refusing to pay the full cost of her rescue, agreeing to pay only $4,000 of the total.
Since the incident trended on social media this month, Liu has been at the center of an internet storm, with netizens accusing her of being ungrateful and selfish.
According to a statement released on Saturday by Kaitu Expedition, the costs have been fully paid by the company.
"An agreement and an understanding have been reached between the rescuers, the Sherpa team and Liu that the expenses and materials incurred should be borne by Kaitu Expedition. At present, the rescue materials have been returned and associated costs have been paid. Other matters have also been resolved," the statement read.
According to the company, Liu and her Sherpa guide set off for the summit from the C2 base on the evening of May 17. They made their ascent on the morning of May 18, paused at the summit for a while and then began to descend.
They had descended to 8,400 meters by the evening of May 18, when as a result of unclear communication. Liu and her Sherpa were separated, and she continued her descent alone.
She became caught on her rope and was unable to get free. After waiting for an hour, she encountered Xie Ruxiang, Fan Jiangtao and their Sherpa guide, who were on their way to the summit.
The team gave up the opportunity to reach the summit and helped Liu return to the C4 camp.
The Qomolangma "death zone "begins at 8,000 meters. From that point onward, there is not enough oxygen to breathe and cells in the body begin to die of oxygen deprivation.
There are two climbing seasons for the mountain, spring and autumn, when temperatures are more moderate and winds less strong.
According to the Nepal Tourism Board, 12 mountaineers died and five were left missing during the last window, between late May and early June.
Since the incident went viral, Liu has received many hateful comments and has been verbally attacked online. She was also doxxed, with her personal details being published online.
Accusers called her selfish and ungrateful and some commenters said that the team that rescued her missed their own chance to summit, losing the money, time and energy spent on training and preparing. Some also claimed that Liu's behavior would prevent people from doing good deeds in future.
Both Xie and Fan called on netizens to stop bullying Liu online, as has Kaitu Expedition. According to its statement, the company said that Liu is a longtime client and mountain climbing aficionado.
"She is kind and optimistic, and gets along well with her teammates," the statement said.
Cheng Sicontributed to this story.