David Sharp had already successfully climbed Elbrus and Kilimanjaro and tried to scale Everest twice before but had been forced to turn back before reaching the summit. On this his third attempt, he decided he would face the ascent alone, without taking along any bottles of oxygen. Sharp began his climb on May 13, 2006; other groups would later report seeing the lone climber higher up on the mountain throughout the next day. No one was able to verify if he made it to the summit on the 14th, but at some point that day he began to make his descent. On the night of May 15th, a group of climbers found Sharp in "Green Boots Cave" (named after another climbing fatality). Sharp sat with his arms wrapped around his knees; icicles hung from his eyelashes and he did not respond to their calls. The group decided he was already in a coma, but did not radio down to base camp for help, left him behind, and proceeded. Half an hour later, another group found Sharp in the cave; they told him to get up and move on but reported he waved them off, not saying anything. More than 30 climbers passed him by until climber Maxime Chaya and his team found Sharp still in the cave on their descent from the summit. Unwilling to simply abandon the Englishman, Chaya sat with him and prayed until he was forced to leave or risk his own life; he desperately radioed the base camp but Sharp was past saving.
Just as the rest of the bodies on Mount Everest, extreme cold allowed for Sharp to be preserved.
He died as a result of a combination of faulty equipment, poor conditions, and to exposure. Soon after he achieved the summit, Sharp began his decent, regarded as the most dangerous part of the climb. He was forced to traverse the mountain with a broken head lamp and a frozen oxygen supply. These issues added to exhaustion ended in another mountain fatality
Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to make the summit, spoke with outrage about Sharp being left to die while other climbers pushed on to the summit..."he was a human being! We would regard it as our duty to get him back to safety."
David Sharp's body has also been used as a marker or a checkpoint for other climbers.