Tuesday, April 22, 2014

200 Meters Down With a Broken Femur

From the blog of Isaiah Janzen, at the base of Mt Everest, writing on April 21st:
As of 4:30 PM Nepal time Friday, the confirmed death count was 13, with three still missing (missing = really really low chances of survival). Added to that there were several critically wounded and a number of walking wounded. One Sherpa even broke his femur and then still managed to descend 200 meters on his own power. 
(Emphasis mine.) Imagine doing that -- descending 200 meters with a broken femur, after so many of our friends and colleagues have died.

Janzen describes the incident -- which wasn't an avalance in the way we envision it:
I am sure you have heard by now, 16 people died due to a serac falling, with three unrecovered. While we may call it an avalanche, this is about as far from a US powder avalanche that you can get. Think of a ten story building, made of solid ice, that falls over. For those people under it, that's it. 
It easy to say that if you can't haul your own gear up and down the mountain, you can't climbed the mountain. I really don't know -- it is a situation very far from ordinary life.

Janzen concludes:
This mountain is different than any other mountain I have climbed. Normally, I do the climbing, I carry the gear, I set up the tent, I use the stove, I place the gear. Here we have 20 climbing Sherpas and 14 cook staff, plus a team doctor and expedition leader, all for 15 client climbers. I never directly asked for this system, but I paid for it with my checkbook. We had Sherpas just 30 minutes ahead of the serac fall in camp one, they escaped while I had hot chocolate in base camp. Talk about guilt.
Many of the sherpas are striking.

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