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  Canadian Mt. Everest 2005: Tragedy


Dr Sean Egan

Update: Friday 29th April. Everest Base Camp
(EST is 9 hours 45mins behind Nepal)

Diary by Harold Mah

Sean called me this morning from Dughla and told me that he didn’t feel well enough to hike back to Pheriche. After discussing it for a while I arranged for the helicopter to come and collect him and fly him all the way to Kathmandu. Our thinking was that after a few days rest and medical attention Sean would come back to Base Camp and be ready to reacclimatise. I joked with him about being lazy and not being bothered to walk down the mountain. He laughed and joked back, “Don’t be silly, nothing’s going to happen to me. Just tell everyone that I love them.” We laughed and that was the last time we spoke.

I put the phone down and carried on with my chores.

A little later the phone rang and one of the sherpas picked it up. I knew immediately, from the look on the sherpas’ faces, that something very bad had happened. He looked at me and just said, “Sean is dead!”

Apparently Sean had collapsed as the helicopter arrived, probably from a cardiac arrest. They carried out CPR on him but it was no good. The helicopter carried him to Lukla where he was officially pronounced dead and then on to Kathmandu where his body now rests. I have been dealing with the Canadian Embassy in Kathmandu which has been great – absolutely amazing.

Everyone cried. Sherpas cried; climbers cried; I cried. How could this man who was so strong, die so quickly?

This afternoon, as the flags at Base Camp fluttered quietly in the breeze, we knew Sean was with us in spirit. It was the first sunny afternoon in I don’t know how long and the beer we opened to toast his memory didn’t froth over for the first time ever!

Base Camp is very quiet, very sad and very lonely. We are all in disbelief. People normally get better as they go down the mountain, not worse. Climbers sometimes die on the mountain, not coming down from Base Camp. Our friend, Gabriel Filippi, has announced that he is coming off the mountain to be with us and one of the other climbing teams said they’d come with Gabriel and help him through the Khumbu Ice Fall. A team that is hoping to summit Everest in late May dropped by and are taking a small passport photo of Sean to the top and will bury his picture there. People’s kindness has been very touching.

They are planning a puja to bless everyone on the mountain because climbers and sherpas are very superstitious and everyone is shocked that the accident happened before anyone has even summited.

I want to thank everyone for their kind messages and thoughts. I will be leaving Base Camp in the next 24-48 hours to go to Kathmandu. My thoughts are with Sean’s family; my spirit is with Sean’s.

More later

Harold

Dispatches

 

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