Karakoram 2011: Dramatic Rescue On Gasherbrums


On Monday of this week, a dramatic and scary rescue took place on the Gasherbrums when a number of teams helped to safely bring a Pakistani porter down from the mountain. Unfortunately, according to this report from ExWeb, the Japanese team that had employed him was not amongst those trying to rescue him.

According to the story, the porter took ill on a climb up to Camp 1, located at about 5900 meters (19,356 feet) and had to be assisted down. ExWeb says that the man was bleeding from both the mouth and nose and could barely walk 20 steps without having to stop and rest. Three porters and a Sherpa from a Swiss team were the first to lend him aid and start the rescue process.

Once the news hit Base Camp of a sick climber, teams began to organize to try to help bring the porter down. Louis Rousseau and José Tamayo were the first to respond, bringing a stretcher and oxygen up to help in the descent. Shortly there after, a host of glimbers on Gerfried Göschl’s team set out to lend a hand as well.

The first climbers on the rescue team reached the descending porters at 5500 meters (18,044 feet) and over the course of the next six hours, they slowly brought the sick man back down to BC, passing through a heavily crevassed ice fall in the process.

According to the report on ExWeb, the Japanese team that employed the porter was unable to organize a rescue and didn’t participate once the other teams did get organized. Without knowing all the details, I hate to be too critical, but it seems that at least the team’s leaders could have helped on some level. Considering the altitude at which this all took place, I wouldn’t think that everyone on the team was exhausted and unable to go back up and help out.

Fortunately, the Pakistani man was still alive when the team arrived in BC. Prospects for his survival are quite good, although it can always be a bit dicey for a few days after a brush with altitude sickness. Hopefully he’ll be fine and back home soon.

Kraig Becker