Here is a
photo of camp 2 inside the western cwm at 6450 meters, with our dining
tent, cook tent, where Pemba Sherpa, our high altitude cook prepares
meals, and sleeping tents.
Dear EverestNews.com, Chris
O'Brien's recollections regarding the passing of his brother Mike. Statement
given at 11:00 am, 3 May, 2005, Everest basecamp 5300 meters.
started in camp 2 at 6450 meters. Mike called his girlfriend on the satellite
phone. Mike seemed very happy to have been able to find her at home and it
sounded like a good conversation. We were debating whether to go down to
basecamp or whether to stay in camp 2 and try to walk up to camp 3 and spend
the night before going down to basecamp for a rest. We decided to descend to
basecamp with the team, because it didn't seem like camp 3 would
for a while. We walked down with Dan, Arnold and Pemba. We reached camp 1
(5950 meters), and stored our sleeping bags in camp 1, so the next time we
came up to camp 1, we could sleep there, so we would not have to walk all the
way to camp 2.
5 of us
left camp 1 (Pemba, Dan, Arnold, me, and Mike). We descended through the
western cwm, going down the large ladders into the icefall. We felt strong and
well acclimatized. The weather was very hot, and the snow was sticking to the
bottom of our crampons. We were separated into two groups by a few 100 meters.
The first group was Dan, Arnold, and Pemba, and the second was me and Mike. As
we were going down, Mike and I were separated by a just a few meters. As me
and Mike were going down through the glacier, we rested occasionally, and were
conversing together. We talked about the great food we would soon be eating in
basecamp, and about the general plan and schedule for the rest of the climb. I
recall Mike saying that he was hungry, because he did not eat any breakfast or
lunch. I did not eat any breakfast that day either.
I did not
see Mike stumble at any time during our descent, before the accident, and Mike
seemed to be as strong as any other day. Mike did not seem to be distracted or
worried about anything that morning.
As me and
Mike descended we were clipped to the ropes most of the time. Sometimes there
were flat areas where the rope was very short and we would not clip to the
rope and just go on to the next anchor and clip there. Mike was much more
fastidious than me about clipping the rope. I would sometimes just hang on to
the rope with my hand, and not be clipped to it with my carabiner, but Mike
would actually clip his carabiner to the rope.
I went down
a 3 meter ladder tilting downward, into a crevasse with a solid bottom, and
then climbed out of the crevasse on 50 degree snow for about three meters,
reaching the surface of the glacier. At this point Mike was just getting onto
the down tilting ladder. I walked along the glacier surface, and then climbed
down a steep 5-6 meter ice step, and then sat down to wait for Mike. Then, 5
minutes (or less) later, Blair, who had been walking behind Mike and I,
appeared above me, leaning over the ice step, and Blair said "Your brother has
fallen into a crevasse." The time was approximately 1:45 pm.
At first, I
ran back up hill to see what was going on. Blair stopped me, to tell him to go
and signal Dan and Arnold. I ran down and signaled them, got their attention,
then climbed back up the ice step and went over to where Blair was standing at
the edge of a crevasse. The trail was traversing across a snow slope. About 20
feet below the trail there was a large crevasse, about 40 feet wide and about
40 feet deep. I saw Mike lying on the snow at the bottom of the crevasse. Mike
was laying on his back. I called down to Mike: "Are you alright?". Mike had a
sore throat from the dry air (many of our team members did), so he said in his
hoarse voice: "What happened? How high are we? " I said: "Don't worry, Dan and
Arnold are coming, we will get some Sherpas, and we will get you out of there"
the rope that was fixed along side the trail, and rappelled into the crevasse.
I talked to Mike further, and Mike said "I think I broke my leg". Blair gave
Mike water, and then Dan, Arnold and Pemba appeared over the top. Arnold and
Pemba began running down to basecamp to get help and supplies, like oxygen,
medicine, ropes, and Sherpas.
down the fixed line that Blair had cut and checked over Mike. Mike knew what
day and time it was and where he was. He was a little fuzzy about how he got
to the bottom of the crevasse. Mike seemed to have a few broken ribs on his
left side. He seemed to have a tender left hip and a possible fracture of the
left upper leg. His spinal cord seemed to be intact because he could move all
of his limbs and his head.
Blair and I
took off Mike's crampons and elevated his left leg. We monitored his breathing
and pulse, which seemed to be within the normal range.
on top of the crevasse, and maintained radio contact with basecamp and the
rescuers coming up through the icefall.
having trouble breathing. He had pain from the broken ribs and maybe internal
communicative. He asked about oxygen and Sherpas. He said "There goes our
years of planning for the climb". He continued asking about the Sherpas, and
he started asking about oxygen. He was having increasing difficulty breathing.
sure if the difficult breathing was due to the ribs or internal
tried to keep Mike from falling asleep. Mike started saying things like: "I am
very tired, and its difficult to breath". I was shaking Mike, and shaking
Mike's head, and poking Mike in the chest. I said: "Mike, you need to stay
awake, you need to breath."
for me to recall the passage of time. I was all-consumed with trying to save
stopped breathing, he became unresponsive. Blair started CPR on Mike's chest,
and I began rescue breathing. We continued CPR and rescue breathing. During
the CPR, we were shouting at Mike, to wake up and try to stay alive. We tried
to clean out Mike's mouth and throat to make sure the air was getting in. We
tried to clean out his airway numerous times, and bloody liquid came out.
Blair and I continued trying to save Mike, and pumping his chest and blowing
air into his nose and mouth for a long time.
oxygen arrived, carried from basecamp by the Sherpas. Blair and I put the
oxygen on Mike at a high rate of flow. Mike did not start breathing. We tried
more CPR and rescue breathing supplemented by the oxygen. Mike would not
respond. It was around 4:30.
Was Mike in
pain when he died? At the moment Mike died, he was certainly feeling some pain
from his ribs, and difficulty breathing, but Mike was in a deep state of shock
and death seemed to come very suddenly and Mike could not know that he was
dying. Mike's breathing seemed to slow over a period of minutes to nothing,
and then stop. That's when Blair and I started rescue breathing and CPR.
We have decided not to publish this
picture for now. EverestNews.com
|Chris and Blair trying to save
Mike in the bottom of the crevasse.
climbed out of the crevasse, I stayed. I sat there feeling bad. I did not want
to leave. I knew Mike was very strong, and hoped Mike would come back to life.
eventually climbed out of the crevasse, and walked back to basecamp in the
dark with some Sherpas.
have been back in basecamp I have been feeling very numb and want to go home.
I am waiting for Mike's body to be brought down so we can bring Mike home to
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