Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Makalu 2011: End of Expedition and accurate reporting from Exweb

I am back in Kathmandu, it is good to eat yummy food and see some friends from other expeditions. I received a few emails to clarify the last few days on Makalu.
The most accurate reporting I have found is from dated May 25th 2011:
(Newsdesk) Asian Trekking reports to ExplorersWeb that a Swiss 33-year old female member of the Makalu Spring Expedition 2011 was found dead after summit inside her tent at Camp 3 on May 22.

"The news seems confirmed by Fabrizio Zangrilli in a broken voice dispatch over satellite. On his website today, Martin Ramos issued a statement along with Jorge Egocheaga saying that Joëlle Brupbacher died on Makalu La at 7,400 m on May 22 at 11.30 pm.

Slovak Peter Hamor, Romanian Horia Colibasanu and the two Spaniards Jorge Egocheaga and Martin Ramos summited Makalu on Saturday, May 21, at 1 pm.

The climbers shared permit with Joëlle Brupbacher, Oscar Fernández, Peter Hámor, Gia Totladze, Kinga Baranowska, Oxana Morneva and Fabrizio Zangrilli.

In place were also a number of Slovenian climbers, American Steve House, and commercial expeditions Jagged Globe (and Kobler according to ExWeb's list of expeditions).

Martin Ramos says that after their summit he and Jorge met Joelle in the French corridor at 8,200 meters around 2.30 pm and advised her to turn around due to the late hour. She pushed on with her Sherpa Pasang and the climbers met up again in C4 about 10.30 pm that night.

Checking with Pasang that Joelle was OK, Martin and Jorge continued descent to BC the next morning. Joelle became unable to move in camp 3. Pasang was with her, along with Peter and Horia, radioing down the mountain for help.

Unacclimatized and unfamiliar with the route, Jorge's and Martin's cook Migma (a close friend to Jorge) climbed up with the bottle and left it between C2 and C3 (at about 7,200) until asked at 10 pm by Jorge to turn back .

Jorge then turned to Fabrizio, Steve House and Marco (Prezelj) who left for C3 after midnight and reached 7,100 meters at 6 am. Unfortunately, the climbers descended with Horia and Peter, after Joëlle had died of exhaustion in camp 3 at 11.30 pm. "

After this I rested one day, then Kinga and I started up for a summit push. It was equally a beautiful and horrific experience. Beautiful as we had the whole mountain to ourselves, as we headed up from base camp our friends departed base camp, we were alone. Makalu is a big mountain and we felt the energy of it. It was beautiful. It was horrific as I had agreed to bury Joelle in the camp 3 area. It was very sad for me as we had been on Makalu together the year before. It never get easy. Kinga and I continued onwards and upwards the next day to Camp 4 and awoke to a perfect night and headed towards the summit. After 350 meters I was too tired to continue. The winds had blown away all previous tracks and mid calf deep snow the rest of the way to the summit - over 450m vertical away - was just not safe for me anymore. We tried. Now it is time to think to the future.....more to come.

My thoughts are with Joelle's family and close friends.