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

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


Comments (53)

It is beyond words the devastation, and yet I am so glad to hear you are safely down off the mountain and pray for a continued safe journey to you and the many others involved.  Thanks for communicating.

Posted by: michele on

As Hemingway once said in defining a “hero”, it is one who shows Grace Under Pressure. You guys are all Heroes in my book. Have a safe trip home.

Posted by: John Hawkins on

I am saddened to hear of this great loss.  I appreciate you taking the time to update us all on how everyone is doing.  Our hearts are with you and hope for safety.  Sending blessings and hugs to all.

Posted by: Beth (Maui, Hawaii) on

Wonderful news that your entire team is safe, but this note is especially to Tuck, who was our guide up Kili in January 2006. He lead a group of 10 hikers from MN and because of him, nine of us made it. We have followed Tuck’s Everest adventures since he was our guide on Kili so it is no surprise to hear of his heroic actions.  He was always cool and calm and is one person we would want to have by our side in a disaster such as this.  Our thoughts are with you today as well as all the other climbers, sherpa’s and local people. Love from Minnesota! 

Lori & Curtis Johnson

Posted by: Lori & Curtis Johnson on

Amen!  Godspeed!
John Mac

Posted by: John Macfarlane on

I was glad to hear that you were all safe. I feel horrible for those who didn’t make it and notably for the locals and their plight. I feel bad for the sherpas who have family that they maybe cannot get to. They have families and loved ones in the villages…I hope that they’re all safe and sound.
A little note to Pedro who made some uncalled for comments…Pedro you have no clue what you are talking about and are completely disrespectful. Please go elsewhere with your comments.
Safe return to all and my prayers to all.
Connie

Posted by: Connie on

Dave, Mark and JJ,

Thank you for all you do to help. Guide us as to where to donate? We can’t forget the poor people of Nepal . This is going to affect the climbing on Mt Everest thus all the amazing Sherpas and their families.

Posted by: Giulia on

All, I’m glad you’re off safely, can’t imagine the devastation. Please let us know that Larry Seaton is ok, too. Txs, Ben

Posted by: Ben Alvarez on

Dave could you please describe the avalanche in a little more detail.  there have been conflicting accounts of the slide in various media outlets.. some had the deluge originating on Nuptse and others had it coming from the other direction via Pumori.  We think the Pumori stories are more than likely correct as the west shoulder and Nuptse seem out of range..God Bless Dave!  Thanks for the great report

Posted by: mark on

When I heard that there had been an avalanche during Everest climbing season, I started worrying about you.  I just knew that you would be on the mountain.  And now I am grateful to learn that you are safe.  You have survived some harrowing situations during your life.  A greater power must have a special plan for you in the future.  Get home safely.

Posted by: A guy named Randy who was a member of a group you on

“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. “

And so you admit to climb (and guide clients) on a mountain you’re only able to go one way ?
And then, you wait for helicopters for bringing you down… (whatever the icefall state after the earthquake, you will see next year, the icefall still easy… as usual, with the ladders you need !)

Posted by: Pedro on

Love, peace and hope, Dave.  I wish it all for the people of Nepal and to you as you journey through your next adventure which I have no doubt will not be in the mountains, but rather with the people I know you cherish.  Travel safely as you make your way home.  Jo.

Posted by: Josephine Johnson on

Dave, great to read you and your team are alright! As always, you’re always there to give a helping hand in any part of the world during your travels! My prays go out for the fallen and their families. Best regards to all, stay safe.
Ronny Diz

Posted by: Ronny Diz on

Dave:

Thank you so much for the updates. Please keep us posted.  We have been praying hard for you, JJ, Mark and the rest of the team and wish you Godspeed and abundant graces coming home safely.

Your most humble followers of the August 2014 Rainier Summit Team

Posted by: Tom Salata on

Well said Dave. Hopefully many will pull together to help the people of Nepal.
Robb Fickman

Posted by: Robb Fickman on

So glad you and the team are okay. Prayers for all those killed and injured.  Be safe in the coming days.

Posted by: Bill McGahan on

Dave, Will and I travelled with you last year to Antarctic, We have been following your blogs. Very happy to see you have arrived back at Base camp safely.
Sorry to hear about loss of life and injuries to other teams.

Posted by: Brian & Will Thomas on


  Our best to all of you, but this note is especially to Tuck, who was our guide up Kili in August 2012. He is the epitome of a leader and no doubt carried all of those amazing skills into this disaster scenario.  Our thoughts are with you today!  Jan and Clint Ancker

Posted by: Jan Ancker on

Thank you for taking a few precious moments to update us on the situation.  Best wishes and prayers to all.
Namaste,
Pam

Posted by: Pam Foyster on

That should’ve read:
*You MUST be an incredible human.
Sorry for the typo/autocorrect.

Posted by: Jennifer on

Mr. Hahn,
You are a class act. I have been watching this unfold from afar for personal reasons and have relied heavily on the guiding and expedition websites. This, by far, expresses the most respect and concern for all involved, especially the sherpas. You might be an incredible human. So glad you and your team are safe. Continued prayers for strength.

Posted by: Jennifer on

Thank you for writing this exceptional blog.  Like everyone, news of the tragedy saddens me.  I am glad to read that you, your team (including my acquaintance, Larry Seaton), are safe.

Posted by: Andy Kositsky on

Dave, I so enjoyed travelling with you in the Antarctic with Fathom Adventures last year that I quickly thought of you when I heard about the Nepal eartquake. So glad to hear you are safe and sad to hear about the loss of life among others there.

Posted by: Thomas Kovacs on

I’ve followed your blog entries for years and have enjoyed reading your other writing—hope you do more as you have a very special talent for conveying atmospherics, emotion and objectivity.

Posted by: Lisa on

Dear JJ,
So very glad to hear that you, Dave, and team are ok. Our prayers go out to the family’s and friends who lost loved ones.
Best Wishes for safe return,
Leigh Ann Belloli,
Jim Thornton

Posted by: Leigh Ann Belloli on

Tucker is a hero. Wishing you all well.

Posted by: Whitney on

We so much appreciate you taking the time to update us in the rest of the world when you all have so much anxiety and exhaustion yourselves.  Awesome that you and your team are all well and can give such huge and needed support.  Keep the energy up!

Posted by: Karlis on

Dave,

I immediately thought of you and RMI when I heard the news and am so glad to hear that you and your group are ok but am saddened by the destruction and loss of life. I can think of no one I would trust more in a time of great strife so stay strong and you all have my prayers.

Brian (Austin, TX)

Posted by: Brian R. on

So grateful you are safe! RMI expeditions consists of an amazing group of men and women! How blessed theses hikers were to have you there to lead them down… And that is what you are! A true leader! May peace and comfort fill your heart as you try to make any sense of the enormity of this tragedy! Prayers for all who did not fare so well! You will climb another day my friend… But rest today & know that the world is with you! See all of you at RMI in August on Ranier! With gratitude and love~ Susan Matthews

Posted by: Susan Matthews on

Dave,
Well said at a time that words just can’t explain.
God’s Speed,
James W. In Dallas

Posted by: James Wilson on

Dave,
I have always enjoyed your writing, but this entry should be the sensitive beginnings of a greater account of this tragedy from first hand.  I knew you could get your team down and not a bit surprised that Mark took an important role bringing some strength and order to BC.  Praying you all get off the mountain safely, but fear you have more sadness ahead when you get back to Kathmandu.  These gentle people have had enough suffering.

Posted by: Jeff Olson on

Dave and Team, I’m so thankful that you all are safe. And, Dave, way to keep your great sense of humor in tact even in the worst of times.

xo,
Stephanie Pearson

Posted by: stephanie pearson on

Your words put the disaster into a different reality as opposed to the broadcast news.  Stay safe and bravo for your heroic efforts in aiding in this rescue and recovery.  Your team including my personal friend Chhering are in my thoughts and prayers. Namaste.

Posted by: Barry Kolsky on

So glad to hear everyone is safe, but heartbroken about the devastation and loss in Nepal.  Not surprised you all put others first.  Tuck and the Sherpa team are inspirational!

Posted by: Kate on

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 you for keeping us updated, and best wishes for a safe trip home! Hoping and praying for peace to all the Sherpas and their loved ones in recovering from such horrific losses - there are no words ... thank you for being there to them!

Posted by: Shelly Brown Gunn on

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, Luanne, Eric and all the Sherpa and climbers at base camp.  Thoughts and prayers for your safety and strength in the coming days. Namaste

Posted by: Wendy on

I have always admired the characters of a mountaineer. What incredible heroism by the entire RMI and the Sherpa team! I am sad beyond words after reading Dave’s latest post. What you are experiencing at the base of this tallest mountain on earth, makes everything at the sea level so trivial. It is a reminder of what is truly important in life. My heartfelt appreciation to all of you for taking care of our loved ones and for helping others in need. I am thankful for having you in my life and pray for your safe return.

Posted by: FX on

Dave, JJ, Peter and team - Now relieved with news of your safety, know that our thoughts are with you as you witness and grieve this tragedy first hand. You’ve all seen the wonder and fury of nature many times over the years and have grown because of it. Respect and humility, for and of, mankind and our environment are earned traits, as it is through nature that we best learn the lessons of humanity.
Safe travels and a pint upon your return.

Posted by: Greg Barber on

So glad to hear that you are safely down to BC with your team. All hope goes with you now as you will be working to help wherever you can.

Posted by: Caela on

Sorry for the typos.

Posted by: John Kinsolving on

All of out prayers are with you and all the other folks. Thanks you for that incredible report. Continue to be safe and God is with you .

Sincerely,
John

Posted by: John Kinsolving on

So glad the whole RMI team made it down, but cannot imagine what you’re experiencing at base camp.  Hang in there, and keeping the whole team in my thoughts.

Posted by: Michael McHugh on

Dave, JJ and Team,
I’m really glad you guys are safe and my thoughts are with you and the families of those that weren’t as lucky.  What an ordeal for everyone. Get home safely team.
Zeb

Posted by: Zeb Blais on

Godspeed…Walter

Posted by: Waltero Glover on

Dave, you and your team continue to set a profound example. Thank you for being so transparent in your updates and we pray for your continued safety and for the restoration efforts at large from EBC and across the affected regions.

Posted by: Nathan on

Thanks and felicitations to you Dave for bringing your team safely back to Base C. An excellent narration of the events since I started reading your posts. I have no doubts you are the pillar of strength to your team. Our prayers are with you and all others at the base camp.

Posted by: Bibhash Mukherjee on

I’m so glad to hear everyone’s been taken off the higher camps and back at EBC.  I’ve been following from Texas.

Posted by: Marion on

Thank you for this heart rending summary of your ordeal and what you have encountered thus far.  So glad you and your group made it safely to base camp. For those of us sitting at home we are wondering what we can do do help the people in Nepal.  Do you have any recommendations of organizations that you feel will provide the most help to those most affected?

Blessings.

Posted by: H. Holmberg on

glad you all could make it back safe to base camp..really saddened by the tragedy that surrounds the mountain region though.sincere prayers for all those who are still missing

Posted by: madhu on

My heart just breaks for all those impacted by this, your team has put others first. Thank you Dave for keeping us updated. Praying for all of you.

Posted by: Art on

What a beautiful letter, Dave. So sensitive, courageous, and thoughtful. Amazed and grateful for the heroism and fortitude you, your team, and so many others, have demonstrated in the midst of this aweful tragedy. We pray for your continued safety getting off the mountain and back to those you love. We pray for everyone affected by this life-changing and profound event. Thank you for putting this into words for us.

Posted by: Meg Race on

Saddened beyond words for all there and in the region, but glad to hear your team and others are down. Safe passage homeward. Sending blessings, prayers and my best vibes to all.

Posted by: Kelly on

Like you, I am saddened by the loss but am comforted by your safety.  Please be well!

Craig and Leo (Taos and NY)

Posted by: Craig and Leo Schor on

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