Thursday, November 20, 2008

Return to the Khumbu

Photo is of me at Camp 1 on the south ridge of Pumori, November 01, my 36th birthday, the day before the accident - thanks very much to John Miller for sending me the photo.
Also thanks to everybody for all the great emails I have received in the past 10 days, for those of you who asked what I am up to now, here it goes.
I am returning to the Khumbu tomorrow morning. I am going back for several reasons, the first being that I think it is important to say thank you personally to the people who helped out in the rescue, the Sherpa community does alot for many trekkers, climbers and tourists alike, as it just comes naturally to them, but I think that many of them are forgotten after the dust settles. Second I feel climbing climbing a little and doing some trail running, I lost alot of muscle mass and weight in general during the rescue and perhaps due to a bit of PTSD after.

Overall it will be a great way to spend December and collect my thoughts and try and get strong again. It will not be easy as I am down to under $600 cash as I spent over $1900 in cash in the Khumbu dealing with the rescue, petty to think about but - the cash is not insured as it is difficult to get receipts from porters and used oxygen salesmen in the middle of the night when so much is going on, even harder to get a receipt from the heli pilot I ended up bribing to get out of lukla- it does make life difficult. Oh well, another adventure.
Since I have been in Kathmandu I have had alot of support from Karnali Excursions, who have been great friends of mine for years and I am glad that by the end of today we will have a new schedule of trips for next year up worked out and will be posted on our website soon.
It is funny how you meet people while travelling and you can form a tight group quickly; they have been science teachers, UN workers, photographers, doctors, climbers, guides, journalists and humanitarians, all have been fascinating and intelligent. Good luck with your various projects.
Wish me luck in the Khumbu.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pumori Accident Details and thanks- not included in press

Nov 01: John, Corrine and myself climb to camp 1 (6050m) from BC (5100m) spend the night
Nov 02:
7:00am Corrine wakes up not feeling so well, so her and I decide to descend and John decides to stay in camp 1 until noon or so to dry sleeping bags and do other camp stuff.
8:30am Corrine and I start thew descent along the traverse out of C1 and then down the fixed ropes. Corrine is tired so I decide to thread her descender for her at all the anchors to ensure there is no avoidable accident.
9:15am A huge chunk of ice detaches from the wall above and falls 150m hitting Corrine, then just misses me - as I am only 10m below her on the fixed lines. I call Lakpa in BC to come up to ABC (5300m) to Assist with carrying Corrine down the scree.
9:45am I start the descent with Corrine's full weight hanging from my harness.
Approx 12:15am John catches up to us on the ropes and assists with the lowering/rappelling.
1:45pm We reach the Scree. John Descends to BC with a Radio so we could ask for more assistance from Porters arriving in BC, and then can come back up with medical kit and sat phone. Lakpa and I start the scary descent down the scree piggybacking Corrine.
3:45pm I call Karnali Excursions - our KTM agent - to order the helicopter for that day if possible in BC or in Gorak Shep for the next morning.
4:40pm arrive with John, Lakpa, 1 porter and a French Friend of Corrine's named Christof who had arrived in BC that day to visit.
5:00pm I depart to Gorak Shep to hire more porters help carry Corrine down.
6:45pm Corrine is in Gorak Shep.
7:00pm Doctors are found from Switzerland. Oxygen and then drugs are administered by , Dave, Christof, John and myself all night.
Nov 03
9:15 am Heli arrives in Gorak Shep.
1:00pm Corrine arrives in B & B Hospital Kathmandu with the assistance of Karnali Excursions and Dr. Pierre Soete from the French Embassy. Dave, John, Christof, Lakp and I arrive back in BC.
5:00pm I depart BC with insurance papers.
7:20pm I arrive in Pheriche, stay at White Yak Lodge for night.
Nov 04
9:00am I depart Pheriche
5:00pm I arrive Lukla
Nov 05
Wait in Lukla due to no fly weather
Nov 06
Pay to fly in MI17 heli back to Kathmnadu.

I would like very much to thank Dave Ohlson, John Miller, Christof, Lakpa, all the porters that were hired to carry, the guy who appeared out of nowhere in Gorak Shep to sell Oxygen, the lodge owners in Gorak Shep who offered support. Matt Fiorretti for being a great friend and asking people in Paradise Lodge during dinner to give up a seat for me on any plane the next day. The Czech couple who did offer to give up their seats. The Dutch trekkers who were very kind in Lukla. I would most like to thank Corrine Goyer, Vice Consul French Embassy Kathmandu, and Dennis Mallet, head of security French Embassy, and Dr. Pierre Soete, French Embassy, for everything they have done to ensure as swift of a recovery as for Corrine - and trust me it has been a remarkable display of understanding and compassion; Hira and Thanka from Karnali Excursions for doing way more than what was expected of them. Jessed - Corrine's boyfriend, for arriving in Kathmandu and giving alot of moral support, took alot of stress off of me, sorry my Spanish is so poor. If I have forgotten your name now I will remember, and give you the due thanks. Thanks again everybody!

Many people are asking about my plans. Thanks for asking by the way. When Corrine gets on the air ambulance back to France this weekend I will chill out for a day and then fly back to the Khumbu to personally thank many of the Sherpa community who helped with the rescue and provided me moral support. I just might solo something as well, who knows.

Everybody please wish Corrine the best of recoveries. I have recieved many emails from people I do not know congratulating me and saying thanks for the rescue, it is strange to get the emails, as I feel I did nothing out of the ordinary and only what a capable alpinist would have done. Thanks though, they are nice to receive.

Some Pumori photos to come soon.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Pumori Rescue

AFP News Briefs List High-altitude rescue drama in the Himalayas by Sam Taylor

An American expedition leader has described the dramatic 24-hour rescue of a French climber who suffered multiple fractures after being hit by a massive block of ice during a Himalayan climb in Nepal.
Corinne Favre, a specialist high-altitude skier and runner, was attempting to climb Pumori, a 7,161 metre (23,600 foot) peak close to Mount Everest when the accident occurred last Sunday morning.
"She got hit by a very large chunk of ice the size of an armchair. It must have been around 200 kilograms (440 pounds) and it hit her square in the chest," said expedition leader Fabrizio Zangrilli.
"I saw the ice when it was falling around 50 metres above us, I yelled but we were on a fixed rope so we couldn't get out of the way," the 36-year-old professional mountaineer told AFP.
According to, Favre was found at 5,700 metres (18,700 foot).
The impact of the ice block knocked Favre unconscious initially, but as Zangrilli was carrying her down the mountain, she came to, but she was in a bad way.
"At this point she is screaming and moaning. She can speak, she is saying, 'I am going to die, just let me sleep here,'" described Zangrilli.
"She protested because she was in a lot of pain. She wasn't really coherent but she could protest," he said, adding the impact of the ice slamming into the 37-year-old Favre had been "massive."
Zangrilli absailed and carried the badly injured and bleeding Frenchwoman for around four-and-a-half hours, before Sherpas and other team members came to his assistance.
"It was very hard physically having 60 kilograms hanging from your harness and having to haul a person across traverses that go uphill and then put them on your back," said Zangrilli, who arrived back in Kathmandu Thursday.
Once they got to a village at the foot of the mountain, a French doctor who was trekking in the region assisted with emergency treatment and Favre was evacuated by helicopter to Kathmandu on Monday.
Favre suffered multiple fractures and serious chest injures and is currently recovering from her ordeal in a hospital in Kathmandu.
"She is out of intensive care and is improving but we need to stabilise her more," said one of her doctors, Anip Joshi.
Lady Luck also played her part in saving Favre, said Zangrilli, from Boulder, Colorado.
"We were very lucky because the weather allowed us to get a chopper in on Monday. The day after the weather changed and no flights would have been possible," he said.
October and November offer prime conditions for mountaineers and trekkers in the stunning Himalayan range that forms Nepal's northern border with Tibet.
However, accidents and high-altitude sickness claim lives annually, and so far this autumn season six foreign trekkers and mountaineers -- including five French nationals -- have been killed in Nepal's mountains.