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.