Mt. Everest Expedition: Dave Hahn Details the Days Events as the Team Arrives Base Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | April 27, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 17,575'

At Camp One, we were up before dawn, boiling cups of instant coffee and hurriedly packing.  It wasn’t going to be an ideal scenario, by any means… Being “rescued” from 20,000 ft on Mount Everest, along with perhaps 180 of our closest friends… But we weren’t likely to get any better offers… The Icefall Route that should have been a two hour descent to Basecamp was decidedly out of order and couldn’t be fixed while the earth was still shaking.  We got out in the cold shadows in our down suits and thankfully saw clear and calm conditions.  Perhaps we all did have a chance to escape the Western Cwm.  It seemed unlikely that ninety plus landings and take offs -at what was a record breaking rescue altitude for helicopters only twenty years ago- could be accomplished without chaos or catastrophe… or at least unworkable delay, but sure enough, the first B3 powered on in at 6 AM and the great Everest Air Show began.  A fear of the team leaders was a helicopter mob scene ala Saigon ‘75, but we’d arrayed our helipads in a way that didn’t allow for mobbing and everybody seemed to understand the need for superior social skills on this day.  There was one way out and nobody wanted to get put on the “no fly” list.  Eventually there were four or five birds in the air at any time, flying a dramatic loop from BC to Camp One to BC.  A line of climbers with packs formed at each pad and a stream of climbers from Camp 2 made their way into what was left of Camp 1 and then joined the queues.  It took four laps in Kiwi pilot Jason’s B3 to get our team down.  Although it seemed already like a full day, it was only about 9:30 AM when Chhering and I got off the final RMI chopper.  There was no back-slapping.  No cheering.  No high fives.  We’d put down at the epicenter of a disaster and we could barely believe our eyes.  Whatever relief each of us felt at being off the mountain was quickly replaced with sadness and awe at the destructive power on evidence all around us.  Hearing on the radio about the quake triggered Avalanche that blasted BC did nothing to prepare us for experiencing the aftermath first hand.  It was as if an enormous bomb had detonated.  We each walked slowly through the obliterated camps, stopping to understand how much force had bent this or that bit of steel.  We finally understood the enormous death toll and the nature of the numerous injuries to the survivors.  When we reached our own greatly altered camp and heard a few stories from neighbors, we finally understood Mark Tucker’s heroism of the last few days, helping to stabilize and transport dozens upon dozens of seriously injured, bloody and broken people.  He and our Sherpa team had gone immediately to help others, even though their own camp was largely destroyed.  By now, we are not even mildly surprised to learn that they somehow found time and energy to rebuild camp for our arrival.  Our “ordeal” seems trivial by comparison… we had to stay a bit longer in a beautiful and legendary hanging valley and deal with a bit of uncertainty.  Now back down to earth… we understand just how lucky we’ve been and we are sad beyond words to learn how unlucky others have been.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Sign Up For Everest 2015 Email Alerts


I have been following your blog and happy to hear you all have made it safely to base camp, but very saddened by your report about the devastation there. Thank… read more

Posted by: Shelly Brown Gunn on 4/27/2015 at 9:46 am

Dave and JJ,  My heart is breaking for Nepal, a country I have grown to love thanks to you both.  Now it also aches for you, Mark, Garrett, Dave Hamilton,… read more

Posted by: Wendy on 4/27/2015 at 9:46 am

Mt. Everest Expedition: Team Flown from Camp One to Base Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | April 26, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 17,575'

April 26, 2015 9:23 pm PT
RMI Guide and Base Camp Manager Mark Tucker just called to confirm our team is safely back at Everest Base Camp.  We have not yet spoken with Dave, but wanted to pass this information along as soon as possible.
We will update when we know more about the team’s plan to descend from Base Camp.

Jeff Martin

Sign Up For Everest 2015 Email Alerts


JJ, it’s terrific news indeed that y’all made it back to Base Camp so swiftly! Please accept our best wishes for a safe passage home to the States. Sincerely, Jeff… read more

Posted by: Jeff Twining on 4/27/2015 at 5:56 am

We are all glad to hear the news of your safe return to base camp and hope that the next parts of your journey go well. Thinking of you, Peter,… read more

Posted by: Courtney, Carl, Amelia and Sabrina on 4/27/2015 at 5:56 am

Mt. Everest Expedition: Dave Hahn Checks in from Camp one

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | April 26, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 20,000'

Dave Hahn calling from Camp One on Mount Everest 20,000’. That was a day of waiting and watching for us.  The weather improved a little bit, this morning it was sunny and clear.  And couple of helicopter and courageous helicopter pilots made use of that time flying out from sick and hurt people from Camp Two to Camp One.  But the big work that they did was trip after trip flying casualties out from Base Camp. We followed some of that on the radio.  Our efforts to get our selves out of here, two of our Sherpa team Wingen and Sunam, made a valiant effort coming up from the bottom of the Ice Fall, to see how far they could get before the damage of the earth quake stopped them.  They got about a third of the way.  Additionally, we were part of supporting a team, coming down from the top trying to do the same thing. They probably got about a third of the way down, luckily both teams, got out safely. There was a massive aftershock this afternoon at about 1 o’clock local time. But it seemed almost as powerful as yesterdays quake.  And we are worried, as everybody is, about putting people in the Ice Fall again.  That is probably not going to be our exit plan. And now we are looking to helicopter out in the next day or two to get down to Base Camp.  And that probably will be what we do, but the timing is still up to mother nature. If it keeps on snowing as it did this afternoon, and making flying impossible. But perhaps we’ll keep you updated. We’ll let you know how it goes. We are safe. We are in a good spot. And we are not in panic mode. Thank you.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Guide Dave Hahn calls in from Camp One with an update.

Sign Up For Everest 2015 Email Alerts


Where is the rest of the blog that was there a few days ago. It had a lot of detail that I would like to read again.

read more

Posted by: Greg on 4/27/2015 at 6:27 am

prayers of safe return….thinking of you and your compadres. Blessings Dave.
Susan Eichner from Taos and Santa Fe.

read more

Posted by: Susan Eichner on 4/27/2015 at 5:59 am

Mt. Everest Expedition: RMI Climbing Team Safe at Camp One

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | April 25, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 19,900'

This is Dave Hahn with RMI’s Everest Expedition.  This morning, early this morning we got up from Camp 1, five climbers Jeff Justman, Chhering Dorji and myself.We completed a good circuit, climbing up to 21,300 feet Advance Base Camp and back to Camp 1.  We were here about 11:30, 11:15 this morning. And then shortly after that, at about noon, there was a major earthquake and resulted in avalanches off of all the mountains around us.  Our camp was in a good place we got dusted but here at Camp 1 we were just fine. Our concern then shifted to Base Camp. We are hearing reports of some pretty destructive action down there, injuries and loss of life. Our entire team is ok.  We have talked with our Sherpa team down below and with Mark Tucker [at Base Camp]. And so our team is okay About the same time as the earthquake a pretty good snowstorm commenced up here in the Western Cwm and down at Base Camp.  We’re sitting things out safely at Camp One. But we don’t have the ability to travel right now, good mountaineering sense dictates that we stay put and ride this storm out.  This may take a little time to ride the storm out and that’s what we’ll do.  It may take this a little time but we are okay. We are self sufficient up here and our concern is with our friends at Base Camp.  We’re hearing the strenuous efforts that our Sherpa team and Mark Tucker are going through down there trying to help with the injured and those who haven’t fared so well. We’ll try to be in touch. We obviously are in a situation where we won’t have great communication. It’s likely that the earthquake destroyed any cell service around the Base Camp area.  We are calling you on a satellite telephone, we got some batteries and we will nurse those batteries to make them last. 

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Guide Dave Hahn calls from Camp One with update on the RMI team.

On The Map

Sign Up For Everest 2015 Email Alerts


JJ, glad to hear you are safe!  Worried when we heard the news.  We’re sad to hear about all the casualties, and our hearts are with everyone in Nepal!

read more

Posted by: Leslie on 4/27/2015 at 10:02 am

Good luck Dave to you and the rest of your team.

read more

Posted by: Michael on 4/26/2015 at 8:32 pm

RMI Guide Alex Barber Safe At Annapurna Base Camp

Posted by: Alex Barber | April 25, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

Just a quick note to you that everyone here at Annapurna is safe. Yesterday everyone came down off the mountain to wait out some heavy storms. It had been snowing steadily all day today when the large earthquake struck just before noon. It was so forceful! It felt as if we were inside a snow globe being shaken by God. The storm kept us from seeing much but we could hear avalanches ripping down the mountains all around us. The roar was so loud I thought we’d surely be hit. Annapurna Base Camp is situated on a muddy ridge clinging to an adjacent mountain. During the earthquake large sections peeled off and cascaded down some 800ft to the glacier below. Totally insane, but nothing made it to us, and everyone is safe here.

My thoughts go out to everyone in Nepal, especially my friends in Kathmandu and over on Everest.

Climbing Update:
The 24th of April I descend all the way from Camp 4 at 7000m on Annapurna to base camp.
But before I get into why I descended without attempting the summit I’ll talk about the earthquake. It had been snowing steadily all morning today when, at around noon, a large earthquake struck. The earthquake was so forceful, it felt as if we were inside a snow globe being shaken by God. The storm kept us from seeing much but we could hear avalanches ripping down everywhere. The roar was so loud I thought we’d surely be hit. Annapurna Base Camp is situated on a muddy ridge clinging to a adjacent mountain. During the earthquake large sections peeled off and cascaded down some 800ft to the glacier below. Totally insane.
As I write this another roar of what sounds to be a massive avalanche rips down Annapurna.
On the 23rd I made my way up from Camp 3 to Camp 4. The route is straight-forward. It starts with a low angle section of ice up a serac out of camp 3. To a traversing section of steep snow then a long ramp to C4. The ramp connects the German Rib with the summit area of Annapurna. The ramp is a slope of 30 to 45 degrees and it was covered in fresh deep snow up to waist deep.
That afternoon myself and another team set up camp underneath a serac at 7000m. Their plan was to start out that same night with their 4 Sherpa guides to leave at 8pm to break the route and the 4 members of their group to follow at 9pm.
I decided not to attempt the summit because:
- Too cold of a night to climb without supplemental oxygen
- Retreat would be difficult at night as the wind was blowing too much snow and covering the track.
- no previous time spent above 18,000’, so I was not properly acclimatized.
- too much technical ground below us - with forecasted storm by Noon the next day.
- high risk of avalanche if caught above camp 2 after the storm.

I descended from C4 the morning of the 23rd. As I was leaving, the members of the team that had attempted to summit started straggling in from their failed summit attempt. They were too tired to descend from C4. I re-broke the route to C3 in sketchy and quite heavy deep snow. As I dropped down a final steep descent before Camp 3 on an arm wrap rappel, I plunged into a concealed crevasse. I was already feeling quite sick from overheating in my down suit. The sun had come out and started slowly deep frying me in the down suit. But luckily I was stable enough that I could wriggle out of the suit without falling any further. Half way in a hole, about to vomit from overheating and my arm wrap biting into my forearm, I comically rolled down into C3. I was moaning in discomfort, dry heaved a few times, and laid there motionless for a time.
I had to get moving again though, because the weather was coming in fast. I cached a few things at Camp 3 and started rappelling off the serac whose top forms the flat surface of camp 3. The route down the German Rib is steep and riddled with crevasses and alpine ice. But large areas of the route had deep snow blown in from the night prior.
... Another large avalanche is ripping down Annapurna… this place is quite unstable since the earthquake.
Soon after completing my descent from the serac I, twice, stuck a leg into a concealed crevasse while rappelling down the further slope. I shouted to a Sherpa named Pemba from the summit team that we’d better employ the buddy system and re-break the route together. As we started down the visibility went to zero and a heavy fall of snow started.
About midway down we lost our rappel lines and started carefully climbing down without the safety of the lines. Searching the snow with our ice tools for the rappel lines while slowly inching our way down. We were In a couloir with seracs all around and above us, my mind kept telling me we were in a very dangerous place to be moving so slowly. A few minutes before finding the lines again we set off a small slab slide 3 ft to our right. Things were getting spooky!
Finally, we made the last rappel onto the glacier below the German Rib. Now the last hurdle was finding camp 2 in a whiteout. An island of safety in the insanely dangerous glacial field below the crosshairs couloir and sickle ice cliffs. In the reduced visibility we wove through large ice blocks of avalanche debris by GPS. We moved with baited breath - hoping not to hear that tell tale rumble that has become such a familiar sound to me here at Annapurna.
The Korean team a day earlier had had a near miss right in this area.
After having been on the move on a very scary mountain, in terrible weather, for 11 hours I finally arrived at Base Camp at 8:40pm that night. Descending through deep snow and limited visibility all day. At Base Camp I found out that an avalanche had hit the team at camp 4 earlier that night. No one was hurt but they had to cut their way out of their tents. They were also all exhausted from their summit attempt. Including one climber who had frostbite on his hands and one suffering from HAPE. They would later be rescued via helicopter. Three of the 5 teams here at Base Camp are leaving, The team that attempted the summit blew their oxygen supply. Another team’s Sherpas bailed because of concerns that Annapurna wasn’t to be climbed this year. The mountain is angry. Yet another small team’s permit has run out.
I was planning to stay until mid-May as now I am acclimatized and my equipment is cached. However, with recent events I’m not sure what will happen, there’s a lot of hearsay… and Annapurna sounds extremely unstable right now. I’ve heard at least three avalanches while I was writing this.

-RMI Guide Alex Barber

A climber crossing a glacier to Cleaver on the way to Camp 2 on Annapurna.  Photo: Alex Barber

Alex, i have so enjoyed reading your reports.  I actually started getting cold about the time you got down to C3.  If Annapurna is not meant to be climbed this… read more

Posted by: Mary on 4/26/2015 at 11:01 am

good morning.
Could you please tell me if Anne lise Marciguey and Ewen le bis are safe? French people.
thanks for your help

read more

Posted by: le guidec on 4/26/2015 at 2:59 am

More Entries

Expedition Stats

Ecuador's Volcanoes
1/20 - 1/30/2015
Cayambe - Summit / Cotopaxi - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/11 - 2/3/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Kilimanjaro Climb & Safari
1/24 - 2/7/2015
Kilimanjaro - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/18 - 2/10/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Ecuador
2/3 - 2/16/2015
Cayambe - 16,500' / Antisana - Summit / Cotopaxi - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/26 - 2/18/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Mexico's Volcanoes
2/14 - 2/22/2015
Ixtaccihuatl - Summit / Pico de Orizaba - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
3/8 - 3/13/2015
Mt. Rainier - 11,200'
Mexico's Volcanoes
3/7 - 3/15/2015
Ixtaccihuatl - 15,300' / Pico de Orizaba - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
3/22 - 3/27/2015
Mt. Rainier - 10,080'
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
4/12 - 4/17/2015
Mt. Rainier - 12,400'
Everest Base Camp - Island Peak
3/18 - 4/12/2015
Everest Base Camp - Summit / Island Peak - Summit
Mount Everest Base Camp Trek
3/18 - 4/7/2015
Everest Base Camp - Summit
Sign Up For Dispatch Alerts
  • A climber crossing a glacier to Cleaver on the way to Camp 2 on Annapurna.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • Climbers moving through the Khumbu Icefall. Photo: RMI Collection
  • New snow on Mt. Everest, Nepal. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Tents aglow at Everest Base Camp on the eve before Camp 1 rotation. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Dave Hahn leads the Everest team on an acclimatization hike to Kala Patar. | JJ Justman
  • Ascending thru the ladders of the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Sherpa teams and guide attempt to navigate through the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Sherpa and guides going through the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Horseshoes at RMI Everest Base Camp. Photo: JJ Justman
  • 2015 Sherpa World Championship Horseshoes. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Significant avalanche shown in center bottom of Annapurna photo. Photo: Alex Barber
  • Annapurna route past Camp 2. Photo: Alex Barber
  • RMI Guide Dave Hahn joins the Sherpa in some Icefall exploration. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • A looksee at the Icefall confirms continued storm and busted ladders as they are turned around. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • A looksee at the Icefall confirms continued storm and busted ladders as they are turned around. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The Winter Seminar team enjoys the sunrise on the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier. Photo: Brent Okita
  • Sunrise on Mt. Rainier with Little Tahoma. Photo: Brent Okita
  • The Winter Seminar Team taking a rest break on Mt. Rainier. Photo: Brent Okita
  • The view of Mt. Rainier after the storm earlier this week. Photo: Brent Okita
  • RMI Climbers testing out their down suits while at Everest Base Camp.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The RMI Sherpa team in their down suits at Everest Base Camp.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Panorama of Base Camp with Annapurna being the left most peak.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • Khumbu Icefall seen with the new snow from yesterday's storm. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Dave Hahn leading the RMI Everest team in a training session into the lower section of the Icefall. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Everest BC - Mark Tucker choosing to go with his air game. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Overnight snow covers Everest Base Camp. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Hanging out in the EBC cook tent on a snowy day. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The RMI Everest team gather for a meal in the cook tent. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Common Tent at Base Camp. RMI Photo Collection
  • Fun and Games at Base Camp on a Rest Day. RMI Photo Collection
  • Views along the trail to Kalapathar- hike from Everest BC.  Photo: JJ Justman
  • Dave Hahn leading the way to Kalapathar. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The 2015 RMI Everest team at Kalapathar. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Grom & Team celebrate at Baskin Robbins in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: Casey Grom
  • The 2015 Everest Icefall Doctors- Stout ladder load. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • RMI Guide and Everest BC Manager, Mark Tucker, crushing the ball. Photo: JJ Justman
  • An RMI team playing golf at Everest BC. Photo: Mark Tucker
  • The Everest team training in the lower Khumbu. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The Everest team practices with crampons on ladders. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The Everest team training on fixed ropes in the lower Khumbu. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The Everest team's training day on fixed rope. Photo: JJ Justman