It has been a difficult start for the hard working Sherpa on Everest 2014 with one death and and a separate serious accident.
Tim Ripple, owner of Canadian guide service Peak Freaks, just reported the death of one of his Sherpa team, Mingma Tenzing.
Tim reported that Mingma was not feeling well and was treated by the doctors at Himalayan Rescue Clinic. They had him evacuated to Kathmandu where he died at the hospital from apparent pulmonary edema.
Yesterday afternoon he was at Everest Base camp working with the rest of the team organizing base camp when he complained of not feeling well. Tashi Tunde Sherpa, our Sirdar, organized getting him down to Pheriche to the HRA clinic. The doctors there determined he had the onset of HAPE – high altitude pulmonary edema. Now too dark for helicopter rescue, he was kept at the clinic under the care of the medical team who held his hand throughout the night. At first light he was lifted by helicopter and flown to Kathmandu. Karsung Sherpa our base manager met him at the airport and took a video of him walking with the oxygen bottle to the ambulance and showed this to me at the Ministry office. My first thought was one of relief, he can walk! he looks good! he’ll be okay!A few hours went by with the formalities and I get a call that Mingma Tenzing Sherpa from Namche Bazaar had passed away. They could not control the fluid that kept building in his lungs no matter how hard they tried.We are in complete disbelief. This reminds us once again just how serious AMS – (acute mountain sickness) is. Even with all the knowledge, medicene, clinics, awareness, conditioning and helicopters, you cannot guarantee no one will die from the affects of altitude. Mingma was young and strong and lives at altitude.
IceFall Doctor Hurt
Just before the news from Peak Freaks I received news from an on-scene, reliable source that one of the Icefall Doctors fixing the line in the Khumbu Icefall has fallen into a crevasse near Camp 1.
He is reported to have broken his leg and was carried back down to Everest Base Camp where he will spend tonight then airlifted by helicopter to Kathmandu for treatment. No names have been released.
Sadly, it seems the Icefall Doctors are getting hurt more often these days. Last year, Mingmar Sherpa died after falling into a crevasse between Camps 1 and 2 in the Western Cwm. He was 45 years-old and was from Goratapting of Solukhumbu. He lived in Dingboche with his wife and son. He had been an Icefall Doctor for nine years.
And in January 2013, long time leader of the Icefall Doctors, Ang Nima Sherpa, died at his home in Pangboche at age 59 in January.There is a BBC film crew doing a documentary on the work of the Icefall Doctors in 2014 so we will probably see exactly what happened this time.
The Doctors are a small team of Sherpa who are paid to set the fixed line from Base Camp to Camp 2 plus the ladders that cross the deep crevasses.
The Icefall can move up to three feet a day in the 2,000 foot high Khumbu Icefall so it requires constant monitoring and adjustment in April and May when climbers and Sherpa are doing rotations to the higher camps for acclimatization and establishing the higher camps.
The crevasses in the Western Cwm are notoriously deep and can be hidden by fragile snow bridges after heavy snow. In 2001, Babu Chiri Sherpa died after falling into a crevasse near Camp 2.
My best wishes that this Sherpa recovers quickly.
Memories are Everything