Thursday, May 27, 2010
Everest 2010: Rescues and Casualties
It appears that the Spring 2010 Season on Everest is all but over, as the major summit push occurred over the weekend at the beginning of the week. Most of the climbers are down in Base Camp now, or further down the Khumbu Valley, and working their way back to Kathmandu. It's amazing how quickly they abandon the mountain once they are done, but after spending weeks there, I'm sure they are eager to get back to the thicker air, and more importantly their friends and family.
Now that things have quieted down some, and the teams are back in communications range, we're starting to hear more stories from the mountain and what really happened high up on the slopes. During the summit push, we generally only get a sketchy idea of what is going on, but it seems that there were some dramatic moments to say the least.
For instance, Melissa Arnot and Dave Morton, of the First Ascent Team, helped in the rescue of a climber who had fallen into a crevasse when she was crossing an ice bridge in the Khumbu Ice Falls. Apparently, the woman fell about 30 meters down, but with the help of a number of guides, she was pulled out, and stabilized so that she could be evacuated from the mountain the following day. No word on her condition at this time.
Alan Arnette has a nice recap of some of the other rescues that took place on the mountain, including British Climber Bonita Norris' harrowing descent after she fell and hit her head, and as a result she had to be dragged down to Camp 4 by a group of Sherpas. Similarly, there is this account of Anita Kobold's near disaster, written by her husband. Anita was in Camp 2 and slipped and fell, hitting her head on a rock, immediately losing consciousness, and going unresponsive. Fortunately, the trained medical staff were able to revive her, and get her off the mountain on a helicopter, but it was a very scary moment for the entire team.
Alan also reports that there have been three confirmed deaths on Everest this year, including Laszlo Varkonyi who died on the North Col and Tom Jørgensen, who succumbed to altitude sickness in a Tibetan village a few days after he was brought down. Late reports also indicate that a Japanese climber named Hiroshi perished in Camp 3 on the North Side following a successful summit bid as well. Sergei Duganov died on the South Side as well, but was actually making an attempt on Lhotse, which shares a good portion of the same route with Everest up the South Col. ExWeb also indicated yesterday that there could be another casualty, but offered no details, and nothing is confirmed as of now.
There do appear to be a few climbers left on the mountain hoping to make a final push, although the weather has to cooperate, and at the moment that doesn't seem to be happening. Sherpas are reportedly tearing down the high camps, and on the Ice Doctors won't maintain the path through the Icefall on the South Side for too many more days. Things are definitely coming to a close, and I think it is safe to say that after this weekend, another chapter of the Everest story will be closed.