Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Report of My Expedition to Mount Kangchenjunga and My Accident

My sincere apologies to the followers of my climbs around the world for the long silence after my violent fall high on Mount Kangchenjunga and the subsequent medical evacuation from Camp 2. Many had a lot to say, mostly based on assumptions. I had to remain calm while people were shouting untruths and half-truths across the internet via their blogs. It has been a difficult and painful recovery, but nothing is impossible. I have been focused on my treatments and rehabilitation process. Thanks to all of you for the loving and caring support in the last two months. Here's a brief account of what happened on Mt. Kangchenjunga. (I sent a copy of this report prior to printing to Mingma Sherpa for his viewing and verification of accuracy).

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The Climb

On April 8th, 2011 I left Kathmandu with a team of climbers to attempt Mount Kangchenjunga (alt. 8,586m), on the border of India and Nepal. I had planned this trip with Mingma Sherpa of SevenSummittrek since Summer 2010 when we met while climbing Nanga Parbat on a solo expedition. I firmed my agreement on an expedition to Kangchenjunga in October 2010 with Mingma Sherpa, and began a long research on this mountain, after talking to Mingma about the logistics, it was decided that we take three Sherpas to help us on the mountain. At the time of our planning we didn't have a large team. For those of you unfamiliar with the topography of Mount Kangchenjunga, this is a complex, immense, and dangerous high mountain with similar weather patterns as that of Nanga Parbat. Mingma hired the three Sherpas we needed. One of them was highly experienced on Kangch. Later, as it turned out, these Sherpas were instrumental in ensuring that everyone who was fit to climb to the top would do so safely. My Sherpas and the three Sherpas hired by the Chinese team were the Sherpas with the most technical training and helped not only our team but many individual climbers from other expeditions on the mountain. They deserve the credit for marking the route and opening the trail that allowed for the success of everyone who reached the summit of Kangchenjunga by May 20th, 2011. They were responsible for setting every camp, all the way from Ramche to Camp 4. My principal Sherpa, Pema, told me that twice the Russian expedition got lost on the upper slopes, which is quite a maze, and he had to redirect them to the main route again. All climbers from other expeditions at Basecamp were depending on the success of our Sherpas so they could move up on the mountain. Snow was very deep and the route difficult.

Mingma Sherpa and his brother Chhang Dawa were the Sirdars and climbing leaders, Dr. Draggan Celinkovic was the expedition doctor, and I was the expedition leader.

Shortly after our arrival at Kangch's Basecamp, I called Mingma (Sirdar) who was at Everest with another group to let him know some of the problems we were facing. The climbers had hired Summittrek for services up to Basecamp only. That meant that all gear, food, and other logistics were the climbers' responsibility. The main issue I saw was the fact that some of the climbers weren't prepared at all for the magnitude of this climb. They had no expedition rated radios, weather service, or sufficient high altitude tents, etc. Many of the climbers demanded the additional support, but they were not willing to pay for it. There was only one member who paid for the services up to the summit, Ted Atkins. Chhang Dawa, who was sitting in for Mingma, and I decided that we would stall the expedition until Mingma arrived at Kangch's BC before we proceeded any higher. Mingma arrived about a month after our arrival at BC. Our team was large, 13 members and 13 Sherpas plus all the kitchen staff. It took an enormous effort to ensure that this would be a successful and casualty free expedition. It was difficult to control the ascents of those who couldn't wait to reach the high camps, and surely, that control created some frustration amongst the group, but it was necessary since the route and the camps were buried in deep snow above C2 elevating the danger of avalanches and hidden crevasses. When Mingma (Sirdar) arrived at BC, he decided to offer all the members full service all the way to the summit without charging anyone for this extraordinary effort. My support team and the Chinese's team of Sherpas began working on the massive task of carrying all the gear necessary to secure the most dangerous sections of the mountain, subsequently, opened the trail, as I was a witness, by pushing the snow with their elbows and knees. I climbed alone most of the time, since my Sherpas were working above C2 whenever there's a window in the weather, sometimes I climbed with Little Mingma (a cousin to our Sirdar). I had no western climbing partner. The first time I climbed with my support team was on the night of the summit push, May 19th 2011.

One of my responsibilities as expedition leader was to come up with a summit window for the team. Something that Mingma knew I had experience with in my previous climbs. This was my eighth expedition to an 8000er. I was the only member in our team to have a detailed weather forecast service. After consulting via satellite phone with Jurg Kurmann from Meteotest for several days, I decided on May 9th that, based on the data from Meteotest and the local weather pattern, that our team summit window should be on the 19th of May. We had to position ourselves at camp 3 on the 18th and bear the brunt of the tail of a storm that had been going on for three days above 7,400 meters. Also, for safety reasons, Mingma and I had talked about moving up the mountain into two groups a few hours from each other for the summit push. However, from the 10th of May summit fever hit a number of our members and they decided they'd go up the morning of the 14th and attempt their summit on the 17th. Mingma decided to move up with this group of climbers who were anxious that they might lose their chance to summit. I was perplexed at this decision because I had shown the weather report data to our Sirdars and to other leaders at BC and it was clear that the 17th of May was the worst day to be on the summit! A strong storm was coming towards the 15th and it would reach down to 7,000meters but it would weaken late night on the 18th. After more than half of our group left with our Sirdar Mingma, I reasoned with the other members who stayed at BC that since our window wasn't until the 19th, we didn't need to begin our climb until the 17th as we planned to go directly from BC to Camp 2. So our small team was formed, known as group II. The members were: Guntis Brandts, Tunc Findik, Anselm Murphy, Ted Atkins, and myself. My Sherpas Pema and Kami went the day before we left, as our Sirdar had asked for their assistance at C3. Some other climbers from other expeditions followed. We began our climb from Basecamp to C2 on the morning of the 17th of May, 2011. The next morning we moved to C3 and spent the night there and barely slept as we experienced an intense wind storm that some climbers described as if someone was hitting their tents hard with a baseball bat. On the 18th, at C3, we met most of the climbers from group I as they had encountered bad weather and were waiting for our arrival. According to the Sherpas accompanying group I, some members began using supplemental oxygen from C2. To Ted Atkins' astonishment, he found Rosa Fernandez (Spain) taking an afternoon siesta in his tent breathing his precious Os in the afternoon he arrived at C3.

We woke up on the 19th of May to a clear, beautiful morning with a light breeze. I called Meteotest to confirm that a summit push was still a go and they confirmed it. I called C4 on my radio and told Mingma (Sirdar) that we were moving to C4 for the summit push. I was the only climber in our team who brought expedition rated radios, so I had distributed them among the key people within the group: Pema, Mingma, Chhang Dawa, our cook at BC, and one with me. I talked on the radio with Pema and he informed me that we only had 4 oxygen bottles and that he had moved them to C4. Apparently, the Sherpas had used six bottles of O2 I had bought for them during their work on the upper slopes. We were 4 people climbing together on summit night and so each one of us had one bottle for the summit push. I was the only climber in group I and group II to arrive on the 19th at C4 without the use of supplemental oxygen. I left alone from C3 to C4 and caught up with Pawel Michawlski (Poland) from another expedition just above C3, Pawel was climbing alone and without the use of supplemental oxygen, we climbed close to each other until C4.

At C4, Mingma (Sirdar) had decided that we should split our group into three summit teams. The first team would leave C4 at 6pm, the second team at 7pm, and I and my support team would depart at 8pm. Not long after my start from C4, I encountered two of our members, one of them with symptoms of hypothermia and the other told me he had decided to abort his summit attempt. The two climbers returned to C4 together. Soon I passed the members of the second team and later some members of the first team. All other expeditions were following Mingma and his Sherpas on the summit push that night and the danger of overload on the ropes was a major concern. Every member of our expedition had a personal Sherpa, twenty-one persons scattered on the upper slopes plus the members of the other expeditions and their Sherpas, all that brought the total number of climbers on the upper slopes of Kangch to about 38. On the higher slopes, below the summit buttress, there was only old ropes from earlier expeditions and on the "ramp" (a long traverse between C4 and the gully) there was only a few meters of fixed rope. Pema had to fix more ropes on his way down for the climbers' safety.

My Accident

On our way up, Pema and I noticed that there needed some rope fixing in some sections below the summit buttress and on the gully. Climbers would come down tired and the maze of rock and ice in this area is very steep, a fall here could be fatal. I only had my emergency rope (about 30 meters) but Pema had deposited some extra rope he had brought from BC earlier (200m from me, and 150m from the Chinese team) and placed the rope coils below the summit earlier on when he was exploring the route. Not too far from the summit, we spotted the ropes nestled between some rocks higher up towards the rock wall below the summit, it was a few meters above us off the main route. Pema would bring the rope down and it would be kept next to the main trail and on our way down it would be easier to get the rope and fix the sections needed for the climbers behind us. This is a tricky section of sharp angle ice and rock with its slope leading down thousand of meters onto the Kangchenjunga Glacier. As Pema climbed towards the coil of ropes, I moved behind him. Suddenly, something moved under my right crampon and my foot skidded to the right towards the Kangch Glacier, as a reflex during my fall, my right arm swung over to the left to grab the crest of a rock, my knee landed on a wedge between a chunk of ice and a rock. My glacier glasses fell down the slopes and I felt a pull in my right knee like a rubber band "snap/pop," followed by a sharp, stabbing pain. I was in shock of the very close call, but did not feel much pain afterwards. I waited for a while trying to decide whether I should continue up and decided to press on as my leg seemed to be moving normally and no considerable pain. I met Mingma (Sirdar) , Chhang Dawa and their client from Iran who had just summitted and now were descending, we exchanged a few words and I continued on up. My Sherpas and I were the second to summit from our group behind Mingma. At the summit, I tried to sit down as we had climbed all night without a break. My knee would not flex and I told Pema I had to descend immediately. On our way down we met Ted Atkins and another climber who were on their way to the summit. They congratulated me and I proceeded down. A few meters lower we met Jeng Feng Rao (China) who was alone and holding onto a rock, unresponsive to my questions. I asked him what happened, why was he there alone, Chhang Dawa responded from nearby that Mr. Rao's Sherpa had to go down looking for oxygen because Mr. Rao had ran out of O2. My pain was increasing radiating up and down my leg. I asked Pema, the most experienced Sherpa with me, to stay with Mr. Rao and I'd continue down with Kami. As we started to descend the gully towards the "ramp" I had slowed down a lot as I was in extreme pain and my eyes started to feel irritated. Snowblindness was a major fear since my glacier glasses had been lost during my fall. I reached a snowy top where a few climbers were resting on and sat there waiting for Kami to descend and reach me. He had been checking the ropes on the gully. I continued down alone on the ramp very slowly, by now I was unable to use my right leg as my knee would give away and lock, and feeling a lot of pressure in my eyes, it felt as though someone had punched them. Everyone passed me on their way to C4. Chhang Dawa and Sanghee Sherpa (with the Chinese) stopped and stayed with me for a few minutes helping me on the traverse above the Yanlung Kang Glacier. They also left to C4 and I stayed behind.

I arrived C4 later in the afternoon, alone and on my own power. It was snowing and my eyes were really irritated making it difficult to see. But I was glad that I could get to my medical emergency kit and an extra pair of glacier goggles. In my tent there were three Sherpas and I asked for some hot water. But I was told that they had ran out of matches, so I just got into my sleeping bag and agreed with Pema to leave first thing in the morning. I was hoping that after a few hours of rest I would feel a little better in the morning. I knew that, sometimes, snow blindness goes away after twenty four hours or so. But, to my great demise, I woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating pain both in my knees and in my eyes. I opened my eyes to look for a pain pill but all I could see was a white out. My eyes were very watery and we bandaged them. I cut the tube of my spare sock and place it around my knee. My knee was swelling now. I reached into my backpack for my satellite phone and made a call to Global Rescue in Boston. I described my accident and requested assistance. The medical responder was incredibly helpful and began putting an evacuation plan in place. The Global Rescue emergency technician asked for me to find an area no higher than 7,000 meters where a helicopter could land. Pema told me that the plateau above C3 was a good spot and it is at 7,000 meters. I called Global Rescue back and we agreed to let them know when we got to the plateau. I placed another call to my family. By the time we got ready to descend in the morning I was completely blind. A couple of Sherpas helped me outside of my tent. However, to my surprise, instead of going down to the plateau with me, Pema began helping the Sirdar with the packing of camp. Because I was blind, at one point, someone had to place a sleeping bag behind me so I could sit down and avoid falling onto the glacier below C4. Mingma (Sirdar), Chhang Dawa (Sirdar), Kami, Pema, and I began the painful epic descent. A few minutes later Ted Atkins caught up with us and insisted on me having a shot of Dexa. Unaware of what had happened to me, Ted assumed I had cerebral edema as I complained about a terrible pressure in my eyes. I, eventually, accepted the injection as I thought it would help me focus better on my descent. As I was blind, I asked Mingma, our Sirdar, to dial a few numbers for me on my satellite phone as we would stop from time to time between C4 and the plateau above C3. I called family members and explained my situation. Then I called my good friend Mr. Ang Tshering, CEO of Asian Trekking, on his cell phone. Followed by a call to Dawa Sherpa in Kathmandu.

On the morning of May 21st, I could not see and Mingma and his brother were holding me from each arm so I could make it over the crevasse field as we descended to C3. All other members continued on their descent. Mingma tried to put me in his back while we crossed over the short ice fall but at that altitude it was difficult. I made it to the plateau above C3 and sat next to the route as Pema set my tent up, and heard the climbers descending past me. Pema and Kami set out to establish a camp site for us for the night and wait for the helicopter in the morning of the 22nd. While I waited for my tent to be ready, a member of the Indian team stopped by to wish me well and thank me for the perfect weather window I was able to fix. He told me how he would never forget the incredible beauty of Yalung Kang in the moonlight. That touched me, because that had been the most beautiful experience of this trip for me as well, I remembered seeing two nights earlier the pure esthetic simplicity of nature bathed in the moonlight. Yalung Kang stood out with its most dramatic silhouet in the night. Mr. Israfil A. (Uzberkistan) stopped by me also, and thanked me for the good job on the summit plan and wished me well. I had shared the weather forecast with all who came to ask about it at BC. Many were amazed by the incredible accuracy of Meteotest's forecast throughout the expedition. It was agreed then, that Mingma was going down with the climbers and would be coordinating for a group of Sherpas to come to assist me if the helicopter wouldn't make it the next day. Everyone descended to C3 and some went lower. Pema, Kami and Little Mingma stayed with me at the plateau. The helicopter team Global Rescue had hired for my evacuation, called me on my satellite phone later that afternoon and asked me for the coordinates of my camp, unfortunately, I couldn't see and look for the information they wanted but, I told them that I had reached the plateau and we agreed to use the tent as a reference point and they gave me detailed information on how the long rope evacuation works (known as sling rescue). Global Rescue had requested for Air Zermatt pilots, highly trained in rescue in desolate areas, to perform the medical mission. In preparation for the next morning attempt, I sent Kami down to C3 which was about 20 minutes away to get a pair of climbing pants I had left in my tent at C3. I reasoned it would be easier to maneuver in a lighter garment than in my high altitude suit. He later told me in Kathmandu, trough a translator, that Ted and Anselm had offered him at C3 a bottle of oxygen to take back to me, but we had made it through the last two nights without supplemental O2 while much higher and he reasoned there was no need for it now at 7,000 meters, so he didn't bring it up. In the morning of May 22nd, I called the helicopter company to confirm they were coming, and I was told that they would be at the plateau within an hour and a half. My sat phone battery went dead. Earlier, Kami went to Basecamp to take the radios to recharge and let Mingma know that if the helicopter could not reach me, we would continue the descent because now I could see somewhat with my right eye, even if very blurred. The right knee was hurting a lot and the swelling was making it difficult for me to flex it and down climb. A few minutes later, I heard a voice outside my tent. It was that of Mr. Anselm Murphy, member of our expedition. He wanted to know how I was doing, then came Ted Atkins. Murphy had a camera with him. They knew the helicopter was scheduled to arrive soon. I told them that we were waiting for the heli. They noticed Little Mingma nervous. The Sherpas did not believe that the heli would come and wanted to continue to descend. Suddenly, we heard the rotor sound of the heli approaching and we all got very excited with its arrival. As seen from one of Anselm Murphy's picture, Mingma and Pema are standing next to me while the heli is hovering over our heads for a short time. The heli left, then it came back one more time before it disappeared towards Cheram. It was disappointing, but I was filled with optimism and believed they would come back the next day. Later, one of the Swiss pilots told me that it was 8 degrees too warm on the plateau for the heli to perform the evacuation safely. So they decided to overnight in the village of Tapplejung and return early the next morning. At that point, because the batteries on the radios and phone were dead, I had no more means of communication. We packed everything and I was thrilled that at least I could see a bit with my right eye, although extremely photophobic. I had high hopes I was going to survive this extraordinary experience. I told Pema to go down to C3 to take camp down while I would go slowly behind with Little Mingma. Atkins and Murphy went down to C3 with Pema, Little Mingma packed our tent. I stopped at C3 while Pema was clearing camp and had a drink for the first time in 2 days. I had not eaten anything either for 2 days.

I left C3 with Pema and Little Mingma while Atkins and Murphy were still there. Before we reached the traverse between C3 and C2, I told Pema to go down at his own pace since he was carrying the heavy stuff and Little Mingma and I would manage our way down to C2. Little Mingma was several minutes ahead of me. I was descending with the help of my trekking pole and when possible sliding, at the pace my injured knee allowed, and I had remembered Little Mingma telling me that right before the traverse there was a crevasse, I saw the gray shade of what seemed to be the crevasse and I jumped over it. My knee gave away violently as it had been giving away most of my descent from C4 and forced me to fall without any warning. On this fall I heard another "pop/snap", possibly, my Medial Lateral Ligament. I later learned from my doctors that the fall near the summit was most likely where my meniscus tear and ACL tear took place. I had no control of my right leg at this point and I landed face down on the side of the trail to my left, facing downhill towards an abyss. The snow was about knee deep and the crust over the sugar snow cracked around me as I fell. My pain had reached a horrendous level and here during this fall I felt the rupture of my Medial ligament like a rubber band extending and snapping. From my training, I knew that with the snow conditions I had, if I moved, a slide was highly possible. I knew I could try to place my ice tool firmly on the slope and force the sudden swing around to an upright position, but I also knew the slabs could slide and take me down with them. My right leg was useless and I could not make a self arrest confidently. Shortly after my fall, I heard a voice next to me and it was of Mr. Murphy who was holding a camera in his hand. Ted Atkins came right behind him. Mr. Murphy held my right arm by my elbow while I got on my good leg and with the help of my trekking pole I moved onto the trail again. I told them that they should continue down without me, but they insisted on staying with me and kept asking me to take supplemental oxygen so I could go on faster. We were approaching C2 by now. I reluctantly accepted the O2, Atkins noticed that my O2 mask had been switched as he had earlier serviced my small mask, but now I had a medium sized one, broken. Shortly after that, Ted Atkins posed for a photo standing next to me as I sat on the route to C2. Mr. Murphy has posted that photo. They accompanied me to C2 with Mr. Murphy taking several pictures and short videos of my descent. Murphy was a few meters in front of me and Atkins a few meters behind me. All the lines that had to be fixed were already put in place by my Sherpas and so on my own power I made my rappels and continued my down climb to C2 with my knee giving away here and there. We arrived at C2 by 4:30pm where we met Little Mingma and his younger brother. Our Sirdar had sent up to help with taking Camp 2 down. They sat on their packs waiting for us unaware of what had happened to be just above them. The Sherpas had already cleared C2 and were sitting on their packs ready to continue the descent with me. However, there was the usual afternoon snow fall taking place and soon it would be dark, making it difficult and more dangerous for me. Between C2 and C1, there's a crevasse field one crosses before climbing a small ice fall and traversing between a heavily crevassed glacier below and a rock wall above. At the end of the traverse, one ascends a small section of rock and ice onto a ridge that leads to C1. To the disappointment of the Sherpas I decided it was best for me to try this part of the down climb the next day morning. The Sherpas wanted to spend the night with us at C2, but they could still make it safely to BC that evening and let our Sirdar know that I was Ok and I was working towards reaching BC the next day. Little Mingma got scared on this mountain a few times, and he wasn't very excited to be on it much longer. They set Camp 2 for me, Anselm and Ted to overnight, then they left. The two Sherpas arrived BC that evening and they gave our Sirdar my message that we would wait for the heli until 10am, and in the absence of the heli we would continue down. Mingma (Sirdar) told me later (in Kathmandu) that the heli company made contact with him through his office, and was told that the evacuation team was arriving at C2 early the next morning, and that there would be three pilots specialized in high altitude evacuation, including one pilot/rescue technician.

On the night of May 22nd, Ted, Anselm and I shared a chocolate bar and a handful of nuts, my first meal in three nights but no drinks since we didn't have the means to melt snow. We woke up around 6am the next day and slowly got ourselves ready for whatever the day would bring us. On May 23rd, by 6:30am, I heard the voice of Kami, who could only speak a few words in English, almost out of breath he let me know: heli coming, heli coming... Our Sirdar had sent us cheese sandwiches and hot beverages from BC. The sandwiches were frozen as Kami and Dorjee (Chinese team) made their way from Basecamp to C2 in the early hours and in record time. As I was rejoicing on a few bites of my sandwiche, we heard the heli coming and Kami poked his head into my tent and pulled me out quickly, my knee was locked and I was hopping downhill to the snow field below C2 with Kami and Dorjee holding each of my arms towards the heli, it came very close to us then it circled above us and it disappeared above the serac behind lower C2. Atkins and Murphy stayed behind at lower C2 and Kami swung me over his back and ran up hill to the plateau above us, one of the Swiss pilot/rescue technician jumped out of the heli as it hovered about three feet off the ground and helped Kami place me inside the heli, then the pilot on the ground jumped in and we flew away towards the Kangchenjunga Glacier. Kami's eyes were filled with tears as I waved good bye to him from the heli's window. After a brief flight over the mountain, we flew low following the Kangchenjunga Glacier to Tseram for refuel. The lower the altitude we got the greater the pain I felt. I still couldn't see with my left eye and both eyes remained very watery and photo phobic. After refueling in Tseram, we flew to Lukla and Air Zermatt pilot, Capt. De Beer flew me to Kathmandu where an ambulance was waiting for me on the tarmac. I shared the ambulance with another climber from Spain who had been rescued from Mount Lhotse. We also shared the triage room at Norvic International Hospital.

At Norvic I was attended by a team of highly attentive doctors headed by Dr. P. Nepal, an orthopedic surgeon and Dr. Indira, an Ophthalmologist who headed the team caring for my eyes for two days, with four different eye drops every fifteen and twenty minutes in a dark room. Global Rescue continued their support by relating to their consulting physicians at Johns Hopkins my diagnosis and MRIs results from Norvic Hospital and the recommendation from the Johns Hopkins doctors was for me to wait for the swelling of my knee to go down and fly home so I could have the complex procedure done near my family. My orthopedic surgeon who specializes in trauma of the knee (Harvard/Stanford medical school) was impressed with the completeness of the tests and medical report done at Norvic. The diagnosis from Stanford Medical Center and Norvic International Hospital were exactly the same: Medial Collateral Ligament tear, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL), Bucket handle tear of Medial Meniscus, joint displacement. On my shoulder: rotator Cuff Tear. Eyes: Severe UV Corneal Burn. My knee re-construction surgery with the PRP procedure took place in June and two weeks later I started a rapid recovery program with a great team of physiotherapists.

I can't thank enough the Global Rescue team and especially John Burkley who was on the phone with me constantly during the most critical hours of my descent from C4, encouraging me to keep going down and giving me hope that help was on its way. He also relayed to me all the relevant information he got from the pilots at the heli company regarding the details of the mission. Global Rescue was unwavering in their commitment to get me off the mountain and to the nearest hospital as fast as possible and using the best service they could in Nepal. They gave me their support during my extraordinary, painful descent from C4 to C3, transport to the hospital and follow-ups at home. Their professionalism and genuine care for their clients is just incredible. A BIG thank you to those guys! Also, as a demonstration of my gratitude to Anselm Murphy and Ted Atkins for accompanying me from about 6,850 meters (below C3) to C2 (6,450), as soon as I arrived in Kathmandu, from my hospital bed, I arranged for a Mountain Helicopter flight for them from Kangch to Kathmandu, so they avoided the 5 day trek through one of the most hostile terrains in the world, well known for the leech infested tropical forest of the lower valley.

Fishtail Air's CEO apologized to me for the misrepresentations made by Mr. Simone Moro (Italy) to a magazine about my medical evacuation. Mr. Moro mislead the readers by posing as one of the pilots on the Kangchenjunga mission. Mr. Moro was not a part of this specialized medical mission and had no first hand knowledge of what took place on Mount Kangchenjunga during my descent or evacuation. According to Fishtail, Mr. Moro wasn't even qualified/not enough experience to perform such delicate medical mission in a desolate area. Below, you can learn more about the pilots who actually performed this mission and never ran to the media to tell the world of their experiences. The pilots who evacuated me never spoke to an online magazine about their experience on Kangchenjunga.

I was shocked at the many threads that picked up a story based on assumptions and speculations of my accident and the circumstances sorrounding it. With each thread the story got more vivid and wilder as it spread all over the net. It's very sad how in this age of cybernauts and real time news, many don't hesitate in breaking another person's reputation as long as they get their fifteen minutes of fame.

Mr. Anselm Murphy wrote a story on his blog about what he assumed took place on Kangchenjunga between the summit and C4 and C4 to C3. I read it after some friends pointed the story out to me. A picture tells a thousand words, and quite a few people emailed me to point out that if you watch the video and looked at some of the pictures posted by Murphy on his blog and on U-tube, you can see that my Sherpas were with me each time the helicopter came and that I was rappelling and descending on my own power while Mr. Murphy was busy with his camera. My Sherpas never abandoned me. Sherpas are no life assurance on the high ranges and I never relied on them to get me down. I asked them as I asked ted Atkins and Anselm Murphy to continue down without me. Although I'm grateful for their company, it was Mr. Atkins and Murphy's personal decision to stay. I just had no idea that they would seek to exploit this event. A journalist with Rock and Ice magazine wrote me to request an interview for an article he is working on propelled by my accident/rescue on Kangch. I'm not interested in the media so I declined the interview. I climb for the love and challenge of it not to sell lectures or seek sponsorships. Happy climbs to all.

To read Global Rescue's news release:

To learn more about ACL/MCL knee injuries check this site:

Interesting facts about the helicopter used on my medical evacuation:

My heartfelt thank you to the pilots of my rescue mission for their superb professionalism and compassionate care, they were:

Capt. Gregor de Beer

Ratings on helicopter types:
Augusta Westland 139, AS332 Superpuma, Augusta 109, AS350 B series, B206-Jet Ranger, Alouette II , Enstrom 480, Enstrom 280, Hughes 300, Robinson 22
Work experience: Pilot for the UN-Mission in Sudan, as a flight Instructor and Pilot in Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Tajikistan, Chief Pilot and Flight instructor at Heli-Link, Switzerland. He has a profound experience of flights for passenger transport, aerial photography, reconnoiter flights and search & rescue flights in desolate areas


He is a Swiss national and holds a Helicopter ATPL as well as an Aeroplane ATPL.
Current Class/Type Ratings: A109, AS350, Bell 206, EC120, R22, R44, SA316/319/315, A320 (Aeroplane), TMG, IR (H), NIT (H), IR (A), NIT (A), FII (H), FI (H), FI (A). He has flown more than 15000 hours on the Aeroplanes with about 2000 hours on the A320. He has about 2700 hours on Helicopters

Capt. Deepak JB Rana

Ratings on helicopters: AS 350B series, BK-117 and MI-17. He started his flying career in 1995. After more than a decade of flying he has more than 5,000 helicopter flight hours. He is also an instructor Pilot.