updated 6/10/2006 8:18:03 AM ET 2006-06-10T12:18:03

A Mount Everest expedition leader criticized for hiking past a dying British climber said Saturday he did not know during his ascent that anyone was in trouble.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Russell Brice contradicted comments by other climbers in his group, who said Brice knew about the incapacitated climber, David Sharp, and told them there was nothing that could be done for him.

New Zealand double amputee Mark Inglis, who was climbing with Brice, has been harshly criticized after admitting he was one of more than 40 climbers reported to have seen Sharp as he lay dying and who, like almost all the others, continued to the summit of the world’s highest mountain without helping.

Sharp, 34, of Guisborough, died in a snow cave 1,000 feet from the peak, apparently from oxygen deprivation suffered during his solo descent.

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