Another story that broke out of the Himalaya in the past few days has been the odd and sad tale of Cleo Weidlich, who became the first American woman to summit Kangchenjunga a few weeks back. On her descent however, Cleo began running into trouble, and ended up being left behind by her Sherpas team, and had another Sherpa extort money out of those trying to help her just for an extra bottle of oxygen.
You can read the entire sordid affair at the Climbing Blog over at About.com, but the gist of the tale is this: While descending Weidlich started to lose her eyesight and complained of pressure on her eyes. Things got worse from there when she tore a ligament high on the mountain, but was still able to make it down to Camp 4, located at 24,600 feet. After spending the night there, she reportedly started acting irrationally, which led the Sherpas to believe that she was suffering from cerebral edema as well.
The lead Sherpani called for a helicopter rescue, but because of where she was located at the time, it was determined that Cleo would have to descend further before that could happen. By that time, other western climbers had joined in the rescue attempt, but reports seem to indicate that the behavior of the Sherpas was not what one would expect on an expedition of this level. There are accusations of abandonment, reckless behavior, and extortion.
Fortunately, the woman lived, but mostly thanks to other climbers who came to her aid. Were it not for their help, it seems that Cleo would have been left behind to die, all alone on Kangchenjunga. I encourage you to read the entire, scary tale, by clicking here.
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