Norwegian mountaineer Kristin Harila has been accused of walking over injured porter Mohammed Hassan during an attempt to break a world record climbing K2, the world’s second-highest mountain.

The mountaineer is at the centre of controversy fuelled by a video posted on social media.

Harila’s team was pursuing the goal of becoming the fastest climbers to scale all peaks above 8,000 meters. During their ascent on 27 July, Hassan fell from a bottleneck. The fall claimed Hassan’s life.

Austrian climbers Philip Flämig and Wilhelm Steindl, who were also present on the K2 shared images that appear to show individuals climbing over the injured porter. However, the exact timing of the incident is unclear.

Their camera’s small display hindered them from fully figuring out the real-time incident. The footage revealed a figure, later identified as Hassan, lying alive but injured on the bottleneck traverse. The climbers passed over him. According to Flämig’s account, Hassan was attended to by a lone individual while others were pushing ahead in a competitive frenzy to reach the summit.

Flämig and Steindl threw in the towel on their own ascent due to weather conditions triggered by an avalanche.

Harila stressed that the team faced extreme conditions and made every effort to help Hassan. She also expressed collective condolences for the incident.

Harila’s pursuit of a world record was an attempt to establish herself in mountaineering history as the fastest climber to conquer all peaks above 8,000 metres. The mountaineer also noted that Hassan was not a member of their climbing party and that she personally did not witness his fall.

She explained that she saw Hassan hang upside down on a rope between two ice anchors, his harness down around his knees. Notably, Hassan had no down suit, which exposed his stomach to the snow and extreme conditions, Harila added.

Harila’s team reportedly spent an hour and a half making efforts to secure a rope for Hassan, providing him with oxygen and hot water to mitigate the severe conditions. Their rescue attempts, however, were abruptly interrupted when an avalanche occurred nearby, posing an immediate threat to their safety.

Harila learned that additional assistance was en route to aid Hassan. Harila claims to have made the difficult decision to continue moving forward to prevent overcrowding on the narrow bottleneck route.

K2, situated on the border between Pakistan and China, stands at an elevation of 8,611 metres (28,251 feet), earning its reputation as one of the world’s most demanding mountains to climb. Harsh conditions, extreme altitudes, and unpredictable weather patterns contribute to the challenges faced by climbers attempting to conquer its slopes.