Mike and Chris (foreground) walked up to the Lhotse face
one day at 6750 meters to check out the route. The weather was very windy
and snowy, and the climbers in the photo are being chased down by
spindrift avalanches. Mike and Chris chose to return to camp 2 to wait for
better weather, before climbing the face.
Dear EverestNews.com, Blair
Falahey's statement from 3 May, 2005, 1140 am, Everest-Lhotse basecamp.
Falahey, Lhotse expedition Member. Lhotse and Everest are climbed via the same
route below camp 4, so the Lhotse and Everest expedition members often climb
together lower on the mountain, and share basecamp, plus camps 1, 2 , and 3.
camp 2, and everyone seemed to be in pretty good spirits. Mike spoke with his
girlfriend via satellite telephone and he seemed to be pretty happy. Then we
headed down to Camp 1. When we arrived there was a bit of a snowstorm. I got
into a tent to have a drink and a thirty minute rest.
of Dan, Chris, Mike, Arnold, and Pemba left Camp 1 towards Base Camp.
However, I decided to stay a little while longer to let the weather clear.
After thirty minutes I left the tent for Base Camp in good weather. As I
descended the long ladders I saw Chris and Mike. They were the last of the
group of five headed towards Base Camp. Fifteen minutes later, I had almost
caught up with them. As I turned around a corner in the icefall, I saw Mike
and Chris sitting and taking a rest about 75 meters ahead of me. When they saw
me they got up and started to descend.
entered the traverse that lead to a vertical ladder Mike was about 20 meters
ahead of me. Mike descended the ladder, and then climbed up the 2 meter
vertical section. I then clipped into the rope and backed down the ladder. I
then climbed the same section, and when I got to the top Mike was gone. I
recalled thinking "Where's he gone? He must be moving so quick!".
into the fixed line with my safety and began to traverse. Then I heard a very
faint cry for help. At first I thought it was my imagination, and then I heard
it again but this time it was more clear. I heard Mike say " help me, I'm down
here!" I said, "Where are you?" He replied, "I'm down here." I was past the
point where he had fallen, and I looked back and saw the skid-mark in the snow
left like a 'snail trail' where he had fallen into the crevasse. With myself
still clipped into the safety line I moved over to where I thought he was.
And sure enough there he was.
out to him and asked, "Are you OK?" He replied, "I think I've broken my
leg." I knew others were ahead, so I moved away from the edge back to the
trail and shouted to Chris to go and get Dan and Arnold, which he did. In the
meantime, Mike looked pretty uncomfortable in the way he landed. Because he
looked uncomfortable I thought it was imperative that I get down there and
assist him in any way I could.
over to the fixed line and cut the rope at the anchor. I tied a knot in the
end of the rope and abseiled into the crevasse. I made my way over to Mike. I
made him comfortable by placing a sleeping mat under his head, and
straightened out his leg a bit. I asked if he was ok and if he hurt anywhere.
He complained that his leg was hurt and that he had damaged some ribs. He
also asked if it was possible for a chopper to come up here and get him out.
He kept asking "How are they going to get me out of here?"
with him for 5 minutes and then Dan arrived at the top of the crevasse. Chris
then entered the crevasse. Once Chris was in the crevasse we did our best to
make him comfortable. We put a hat on him, sunglasses and sun cream. We moved
the sleeping mat underneath of him and put a rucksack under his head. Then
Chris proceeded to do an examination. He asked him where he had pain. Mike
said, "My leg is hurt, but it's numb now. I have pain in my ribs on the left
side." And then Mike asked, "How am I going to get out of here?" We told him
"It's OK, the Sherpas and rescue team are on the way." We stayed and talked
with him and gave him water and tried to keep him comfortable while we waited
for assistance to arrive.
asking "How long for oxygen to arrive. It's hard to breathe." We told him "30
minutes." His situation was stable for about thirty minutes. He was talking
and alert and responsive, but seemed increasingly tired. In the space of a
couple of minutes his health rapidly deteriorated. When I removed the
sunglasses to see his eyes, they were open but rolled back. We started CPR.
doing the breathing and I was alternately doing the heart massage. Within the
first minute we got a response. His hand moved and his body moved. We
continued the CPR, but got no further response. We continued CPR for a long
time, but I have no idea how long it was. We continued CPR until assistance
and oxygen arrived. Once oxygen arrived we administered oxygen at a rate of 4
liters per minute and I continued the heart massage. We continued this for 15
to 20 minutes. During this time there was no response from Mike. Finally, I
said to Chris, "I think he's gone. I'm sorry." I stopped the heart massage,
but Chris continued with the oxygen over the face.
determined that Mike had died, I started to pack everything away. Dan hauled
the gear out of the crevasse. I climbed out of the crevasse and had a short
break and drink of tea. Then I descended to Base Camp with Lakpa Sherpa. I
stepped of the icefall long after dark.
sorry about what happened. Even though I only knew Mike for a short time, I
class Mike as a friend. He was a great guy. I wish I could have done more to
save him. My deepest sympathies to him and his family.
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