In 1992, an Indian climber was left to die on the South Col of Mount Everest by other climbers who watched his feebly waving hand from their tent. He was filmed in his last hours for a television feature. Why did onlookers not hold the dying man's hand and comfort him? The answer appals Joe Simpson, who was himself left for dead in a cervasse in Peru in 1985 - 'because it might compromise their summit bid'. It is an ethical question that Joe is forced to confront as he climbs a hazardous route on Pumori.
Now that Everest has become the playground of the rich, where commercial operators offer guided tours to the top, camping admist the detritus and unburied corpses of previous less fortunate climbers, Joe wonders if the noble instincts that once characterised mountaineering have been irrevocably displaced - as in politics, in business, in the media and in other facets of society.