Mountain climber leaves Peres's flag in Georgia

Young Israeli who saved a Turkish man's life instead of reaching Everest summit scales Kazbek Mountain.

Mountain Climber (370) (photo credit: Anna Godjbidzh)
Mountain Climber (370)
(photo credit: Anna Godjbidzh)
Mountain climber Nadav Ben-Yehuda placed a national flag given to him by President Shimon Peres on top of Kazbek Mountain in Eastern Georgia over the weekend.
Ben-Yehuda recently was awarded the President’s Prize in recognition of his humane action of putting the saving of human life ahead of his ambition to be the youngest Israeli to reach the peak of Mount Everest. In May, he saved the life of Aydin Irmak, a Turkish mountain climber who had lost consciousness on the way down from Everest while Ben-Yehuda was nearing the top.
He revived the man and carried him a considerable distance on his back. In the process he suffered severe frostbite, and at one stage, it was thought that he might lose some of his fingers.
Disappointment over Everest did not deter Ben-Yehuda from aiming for other heights, and at the end of last week, he scaled the 5,042-meter Kazbek Mountain in Eastern Georgia.
The climb was also a means of testing the strength of his right hand that was hurt during the rescue operation on Mount Everest.
It was extremely cold on the Georgian mountain, and Ben- Yehuda, in reporting to Peres said that on the first two nights his hand had been very painful, but afterwards he devised a number of gimmicks to keep it warm, and the pain subsided. It was not a pleasant sight, he said, to see his hand turning blue.
Ben-Yehuda had prepared himself up for returning to the foot of the mountain if things became too tough for him, but he made sure that he did not convey this in his body language.
Nonetheless, he was very tense throughout the climb, and when he showed other climbers photographs of the damage that had been caused to his hand on Everest, they were incredulous, and could not get over the fact that he was climbing again so soon.
After conquering Kazbek, and placing the flag that Peres had given him as a good luck symbol, at the top of the mountain, Ben-Yehuda said it also symbolized all the good things that happened to him in Israel following his return from Everest.
Peres said that he was proud of Ben-Yehuda, and proud of the strength of his spirit, his determination, and his love for the country. In wishing him a happy and healthy year, the president also wished him the ability to conquer new heights.