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 Italian Everest/K2 2004 expedition


May 20, 2004 – from Advance Base Camp:

The wake up this morning was under a heavy cover of snow here at ABC. At the high camps there is a snowstorm, we are advised by Soro Dorotei, from camp II. The convergence of two low pressure fronts, one over Tibet, the other over India, is causing serious weather problems over the Himalayas and has become a trap for those who in the past several days have ascended to the high camps on the mountain.

The first victim to have succumbed is probably a South Korean, caught near the summit.  Already since last night, at Italian base camp, the alarm was sounded for the rescue of two Catalan female climbers, Nuria and Mayte, caught by the storm at camp III, at 8300 meters, on the way back down from the summit.

A third female climber, Silvia, the team doctor of this small Catalan team, came to us this morning, expressing grave concern over her two teammates who had oxygen only until midnight.  Already last night they sounded extremely tired.  Shamefully, they were abandoned to their destiny by the Sherpas as soon as the weather conditions had begun to worsen.

Nuria and Mayte made radio contact around 8 o’clock this morning, while they very bravely attempted a desperate descent in the midst of the snowstorm, aiming for the tents of camp II. So began a very dramatic day, monitored minute by minute from ABC.  Their words seemed ever more frightened and incoherent. One of the two, in particular, seemed to be at the limit of consciousness. After many hours, as they were continuously encouraged by their radio contact to keep following the line of fixed rope down the mountain, and not to give in to the temptation of stopping, Nuria and Mayte reached the first tents of camp II.

About 100 meters further down the mountain, was the first team of Italian climbers, who had gone up to camp II to continue their second attempt for the summit. Guided by uncertain descriptions of the form and design of the tent the two were located in (gray and orange squares?), the Italian team of Silvio “Gnaro” Mondinelli, Giulio Maggioni and Michele Compagnoni , reached the girls with two oxygen bottles and a thermos of hot liquid in less than l/2 hour.  There was a release of tension all round with the knowledge that the two had been reached.

The two women were exhausted, but were not complaining of any frostbite, and were quickly revived by the hot drink and the oxygen.  Later they were well enough to descend down to camp I, assisted by their Italian rescuers.  From there to ABC the K2-2004 expedition Sherpas were also able to assist, guided by Zangbu, who in the original plans, was supposed to climb to camp III today.

The rescue operation therefore concluded well, much to everyone’s relief. Naturally, current conditions on the mountain are worrisome.  The weather predictions now indicate 3 days of bad weather before another window of opportunity presents itself to allow us to continue our complex plan to bring the Georadar-GPS to the summit for the complicated measurements project we had planned.

Dispatches

 

copyright Italian expedition Everest/K2 2004 expedition Expedition

 
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