Thursday, October 18, 2012

Himalayan High Altitude Rescue 101

October 18, 2012' - 21:30 NPT - High Altitude Rescue 101

We finally have a summit list, lots going during the summit push, so much so that I needed to get the details clear before posting. That just happened so I will share.

At 06:30hrs at about 5900m Island Peak climber Deborah Ariss caught her crampon in a way that caused her to twist her ankle to the point of breaking it and a rescue was needed. Tim organized a rope rescue. Helping him on the ropes was Sean Kirkwood from Australia, Dr. Murad Lala from India and Jack Rubens from the US who assisted in lowering her to a platform area where a helicopter could pick her up.  

The winds were not working in their favor, hitting around 20km at 6000m causing the helicopter to be kicked around in the wind for too long, so long it was running out of fuel. Finally it sat down at Island Peak base camp for about 4 hours waiting to see if the winds would die down and call for more fuel to be flown up.  During that time the helicopter encountered a battery charge issue. While waiting for all this to take place Tim had given his down jacket to Deborah and was starting to get hypothermic, fortunately he had oxygen to give her at which most don't take here and was able to keep her stable and circulation going to keep her warm. Jack Rubens, Paul Pargeter and Rob Morill assisted Tim with Deborah after their summit and the others descended after offering up more clothing to Tim and Deborah. The Sherpas jumped in to hug and slap Tim around to warm him up and he says that worked out, he was able to warm up again. Around 11:30NPT Fish Tail Air helicopter got it's fuel and charge sorted out and Deborah was successfully air lifted to Kathmandu. 

When training on this training climb we prefer climbers sit around at night in the comforts of their chairs by the heater in the tent and talk about things that go wrong and how to deal with it and save lives and setup scenarios to teach rope rescue, but nothing really compares to learning from the real deal. I think these guys got their monies worth on that part of the program at the unfortunate expense of Deborah's painful situation.  

Summit List:  Dean Somes, Michael Boni, Michael Pinheiro, Paul Pargeter, Scott Driscoll, Rob Morill, Brian Corbet, Ngima Sherpa and Sonam Sherpa and maybe a few more.. Tim was pretty tired and not too coherent when we spoke and the added interference of the Chinese satellite cutting conversations as it passes over the area.

What's next?  IP members heading out tomorrow and the "Triple Crown" team will be heading over to their next objective -  Pokhalde - a 5806m mainly rock climb and then a summit bid on Lobuche East  (6119m).
3G and Internet seem to be bugged (or busted) this year up in the Khumbu so we don't know when we'll see photos, hopefully things are still working well down at Namche Bazaar when the IP team heads through there and they can dispatch some out for us.

Over and out...   Becky

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