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  Mt. Everest 2005: The Singapore Premier Taxi Everest Expedition without oxygen: Singapore mountaineer’s narrow escape from avalanche (a different avalanche!)


Moments after the avalanche, Dr Goh (standing in front) and the Sherpas are running downhill. (The arrows indicate the direction of the avalanche.) Picture by Edwin Siew

3 man Singapore Expedition without oxygen expedition (Climbers Robert Goh, Lim Kim Boon and Edwin Siew)

Update: Everest Base Camp (5,400m) 7 May 2005

Singapore Mountaineer Dr. Robert Goh narrowly escaped with his life yesterday morning when an avalanche crashed down on him at 6,800m.

He and team mate, Singaporean Everest summiter Edwin Siew, were climbing during their final acclimatization cycle before their bid to summit Everest without oxygen. The men are part of the three-man team on the Premier Taxis Singapore Everest Expedition 2005 (without oxygen).

The incident happened when Dr. Goh, 39, reached the bottom of the Lhotse Face, a steep 800m-high slope of blue ice covered by snow after four days of heavy snowfall.

“I heard a rumble and when I looked up at the Face I saw a curtain of snow and ice falling right on me,” he said. “I immediately crouched down and tucked my head in. Luckily, I had my helmet on because I felt several knocks on the helmets, which were probably chunks of ice.

“In a minute or two, I was half buried up to my chest. I knew that if I did nothing, I’d be buried alive. So I jumped up and ran downhill with the flow of the avalanche, which was one of the ways of avoiding being buried.

“I ran for about 20m which was really tough because I was wearing crampons and we were at high altitude. I didn’t dare look behind until the rumble died down.

“Only then did I stop running and took a peek behind. I saw a big pile of snow which filled up a huge crevasse, and the Sherpas running away from the avalanche.” 

He then saw that Mr. Siew, 35, who was some distance downhill putting on his crampons, was unscathed and video-taping the aftermath.

Some of the Sherpas who were higher up the Lhotse Face also took a direct hit from the falling snow. They would have been swept away had they not been clipped into the fixed rope.

Dr. Goh, a research scientist, and Mr Siew, head of training at Outward Bound School, then descended to Camp 2 where they are now resting.

“We are waiting for suitable conditions before going up again to acclimatize up to Camp 4 without oxygen,” said Dr. Goh. “Once we have done that we will be ready for the summit bid.”

As for the near-death experience, he said: “I was quite shaken after it happened. Ed and I were speechless for the rest of the day. But these things happen in mountaineering. I have to push it out of my mind and not let it distract me from the task ahead.”

Video Crossing the Khumbu Icefall, Nepal from the National University of Singapore 2005 Everest Expedition team. Click the picture

Dispatches

 

 

 

 

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