2008 K2 and Broad Peak Expedition
Dispatch Sixty-six: August 4th, 2008
Day Sixty-six: SUMMIT PUSH– The Final Cost
Today, after a quiet breakfast alone in base camp, Sultan helped me sort through Karim and Baig’s belongings and pack them for the journey back to Skardu. I headed up as Wilco was taken up in a gurney to the makeshift helipad that the Americans had constructed. We all watched as Eric was loaded into the helicopter so he could swing up to close to Camp II on the Abruzzi route to check on the progress of Marco in his descent. After that was finished, we waited as Wilco was loaded into the helicopter to be evacuated, and then again when Cas was loaded into the second helicopter to be taken down. After this, I worked for awhile on my computer, sorting through endless requests for interviews from news agencies all around the world, and then decided to populate some facts regarding the deceased. Since I had been on the mountain while the tragedy on the summit was unfolding, I was oblivious to most of the hard facts about the chronology of the whole incident and the parties involved. I decided to clear this up by asking direct witnesses exactly what they knew about each of the victims. Most people in base camp are quoting rumors, or relying on what they may have seen through the telescope. Thanks to the internet, these lies and twisted rumors are being published as fact, and people are being given hope when none exists, or being misled to believe that their loved one is missing, when in fact they are safe in descent or in base camp (this was the case for me, as I was reported missing twice; once when I was on my way from Camp III to Camp 3.5 (7,800 meters), and the other as the tragedy was unfolding on the summit, and I was safely descending to Camp III after deciding to abort my summit bid). Below I will list the victims and what I gathered from first hand witnesses. The death toll sits at eleven now.
1. Serbian- Diran- Confirmed Dead; Fell below Bottleneck, Body Recovered to CIV by American Doctor, Eric.
2. Pakistan- Mehrban Karim- Confirmed Dead; Fell in Descent after Hugues Deceased
3. Pakistan- Jehan Baig- Confirmed Dead; Fell below Bottleneck during rescue of Diran
4. French- Hugues D’Aubarede- Confirmed Dead; Stuck above the traverse after Serac Fall cut the Fixed Lines
5. Irish- Gerard McDonell- Confirmed Dead; Refused to descend because he was helping the others that were injured
6. Korean- Park Kyeong hyo- Confirmed Dead- Serac Fall
7. Korean- Kim Hyokyeong- Confirmed Dead- Serac Fall
8. Korean- Hwang Dong Jin- Confirmed Dead- Serac Fall
9. Nepal- Pasang Bhote- Confirmed Dead- Died in Rescue of Jumich Bhote from Serac Fall
10. Nepal- Jumich Bhote - Confirmed Dead- Trapped in Bottleneck when Rope Cut by Serac Fall
11. Norway- Rolf Bae- Confirmed Dead- Fell in Descent with Serac Fall
Although I spoke with first hand witnesses regarding these names and events, there still exists a language barrier in some cases, and I can’t guarantee that all the facts are present. These are, however quite a bit more accurate than those based on hearsay. This evening, we still await the arrival of Marco, who was reportedly smiling in Camp II melting water, and resting. They sent a helicopter for him to get him from Camp II, however, turned back before reaching him because of deteriorating weather. I hope that the weather holds long enough so that he too can be evacuated by helicopter tomorrow, as the weather is forecast to be quite bad.
Left: Military Helicopter landing in K2 Base Camp (Photo Credit: Chris Mellor Warner)
Right: Climbers gather to help load Wilco into the helicopter for evacuation (Photo Credit: Chris Mellor Warner)