- Melissa Arnot
- Alex Barber
- Bridget Belliveau
- Jake Beren
- Zeb Blais
- Katrina Bloemsma
- Katie Bono
- Lance Colley
- Sean Collon
- Leon Davis
- Elias de Andres Martos
- Pepper Dee
- Mark Falender
- Leah Fisher
- Lindsay Fixmer
- Eric Frank
- Steve Gately
- JM Gorum
- Casey Grom
- Billy Haas
- Dave Hahn
- Walter Hailes
- Mike Haugen
- Andy Hildebrand
- Joe Horiskey
- Nick Hunt
- Tyler Jones
- JJ Justman
- Andrew Kiefer
- Mike King
- Adam Knoff
- Caleb Ladue
- Ben Liken
- Josh Maggard
- Paul Maier
- Linden Mallory
- Lindsay Mann
- Jeff Martin
- Stoney Molina
- Chase Nelson
- Billy Nugent
- Brent Okita
- Tyler Reid
- Kel Rossiter
- Geoff Schellens
- Mike Soucy
- Garrett Stevens
- Mark Tucker
- Mike Uchal
- Pete Van Deventer
- Alex Van Steen
- Ed Viesturs
- Christina von Mertens
- Mike Walter
- Seth Waterfall
- Solveig Waterfall
- Peter Whittaker
- Win Whittaker
- Robby Young
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.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
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.
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 calls in from Camp One with an update.
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
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.
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.
Hey, this is Dave Hahn calling from Camp 1 on Mount Everest. A good day for us up here. We got up this morning at about 6:00 in the morning and set out at 8:00 to explore the last couple of ladder crossings in the Western Cwm, they go about halfway to Camp 2. Our intention today was just exercise and getting to know the lay of the land. Our hope is tomorrow to get a good acclimatization hike in going all the way to Camp 2 and then coming back down here to Camp 1 for that next night. The afternoon today after we get back to camp was pretty quiet. It was snowing lightly, kinda socked in. We just took the opportunity to rest and recuperate inside our tents and continue our acclimatization process. Thank you.
RMI Guide and Everest Expedition Leader, Dave Hahn, calling in from Camp 1.
On The Map
The 2015 Mt. Everest season has been a tough start with big snow storms here at base camp, but full steam ahead right now. The snow that kept us from moving up earlier has blossomed to some nice days. You would be amazed at the difference on the glacier since last week. Rivers running, pools forming and a route through the ice fall that has allowed a reasonable ascent to Camp 1, where the team is at this very moment. I just got off the radio with Dave and word is, all well. I was able to follow the team’s climb up the ice fall with my tripod-mounted spotting scope. They were at times obscured from view by huge ice towers and the route taking them down into the depths of the glacier, out of sight, and then minutes later they would they pop back into view. Their training, adjusting to the altitude and experience at this sort of wild climbing paid off with what I can guarantee you was one of the most amazing and memorable days in these mountaineers climbing careers. So proud of this group as I watched them progress through the Khumbu Icefall working the mountain, assisting each other, and sticking together in pure style and grace. Way to go team!
Dave Hahn called in after reaching Camp 1 and his audio is posted below.
RMI Everest Expedition Leader, Dave Hahn, calling in from Camp 1.
On The Map
Climbed up and established Annapurna Camp 4 today.
The other climbers here at Camp 4 are talking about continuing on and making a try at the summit this evening (leaving here at ~9pm), because there is a storm forecast for tomorrow afternoon. This is not for me, so I’ll have to decide whether to make my summit attempt early tomorrow morning and risk being in a storm as I descend, or turn back and wait for a better weather window.
Today was a well-earned rest day for all. But it was also a day of getting ready to go higher; carefully selecting food and gear for what we hope to be a three night stay at Camp One, above the Icefall. We’ve had a longer stay at comfy Base Camp than we’d expected, and so it will be a little tough committing to the normal discomforts of a camp in the snow at 20,000 ft, but in the plus column, we will be a little better acclimated than we might have been with an earlier foray to the Western Cwm. And we are eager to get on with the climb… Which is a big plus.
Our enthusiasm is tempered by the looming prospect of bidding a teammate goodbye. Larry Seaton has been climbing hard and pushing himself to extremes in the face of a number of physical setbacks. True to character, he isn’t satisfied with staggering up Mount Everest at or beyond his limit… Larry has always been an asset to his climbing teams and won’t chance being a liability to this one. He’ll bow out and will head towards home in the near future. Obviously the team feels for Larry and regrets losing a key member, but we all applaud his prudent decision.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
Tonight I’m in Camp 3. This camp is hands down the most ridiculous camp I’ve ever made. It’s perched atop a small serac maybe 20’ by 20’ with huge drops on three sides. A 150 feet overhanging ice cliff is what I’m tucked under… to protect from avalanches. Yikes!
The past three days I’ve spent making my way up Annapurna. The first day (the 19th) I left Base Camp with two Sherpa guides to re-open the route after a week of snow. But on the way to Camp 1 and after arriving in Camp 1, I was observing avalanche activity that was just too frequent for my comfort to continue pushing on to Camp 2 (as was our original plan). Shortly after making the call to stop for the day at Camp 1, a massive avalanche broke high on Annapurna. Rumbling toward us, I thought, for a moment, it was gonna hit us but luckily it just dusted Camp 1 with a cloud of snow and a large gust of wind.
The 20th I made my way to Camp 2 and found my tent, that I had set up on April 4th when I first established the camp, buried under 7ft of snow. Three and a half hours later I had my tent unburied and patched up. Today, the 21st, I tackled the most technical and dangerous section of Annapurna. Namely, a 3,200-foot climb through steep alpine ice with large seracs always above you. Just think of ice blocks the size of tractor trailers just waiting their turn to rumble down the mountain side. About mid-way through the climb I broke one of the straps on my Millet 8000m boots. Taking refuge beneath a massive serac I quickly jimmy-rigged a fix and kept climbing. The key in these regions is to move as fast as is safe and possible for you.
This evening at Camp 3 I’m sharing this small ice pedestal with another team. We barely fit. Just as dark set in a large stove fire erupted in a tent adjacent to mine. Luckily I had my down suit and inner boots on and could rush out to help reduce the fire. Myself and a few other climbers rushed to kick gas canisters and oxygen bottles out of the fire; throwing snow on it, and principally focusing on preventing the other tents from catching fire. Unbelievably no one was injured! The tent and many of the occupant’s belongings were lost to the fire, but everyone is safe now.
It’s quite windy here tonight. Not sustained, but you can hear the gusts approaching from the distance. Not sure what my game plan is for tomorrow, either head to Camp 4 and make a summit attempt tomorrow evening; in which case I’d be racing a forecasted storm to the summit, or head back to Base Camp and wait for a more stable window.