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The Jerusalem Post, which reported that Ben-Yehuda would have been the youngest Israeli to reach Everest's summit, spoke to Irmak by telephone during the dinner that Goder hosted.
"I don't know what the hell is going on between the two countries," the newspaper quoted Irmak as saying. "I don't care about that. I talked to his (Ben-Yehuda's) family today and I told them you have another family in Turkey and America."
Ben-Yehuda, who spoke to the AP just before leaving Nepal for urgent medical treatment in Israel, said he could not say with certainty how he would have reacted if he had come across a stricken climber he did not know. Oxygen is in such short supply and the conditions are so harsh, he said, that people on the mountain develop a kind of tunnel vision.
"You just think about breathing, about walking, about climbing," he said. According to Ben-Yehuda, the fundamental questions going through the mind of a climber heading for the peak are: "Are you going to make it?" and "When is the right time to turn back?"
And once a climber begins the descent, the all-embracing question becomes: "How fast can I go down?"
Ben-Yehuda said his military training in Israel helped shape his reflexive decision to rescue Irmak. "You never leave a friend in the field," he said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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