Screen shot 2011-06-06 at 12.24.45 PM
By Edurne Pasaban; photograph by Bradley Stulberg, My Shot; inset by Joshua Brown

Editor's Note: In May, Edurne Pasaban, our 2011 People's Choice Adventurer of the Year, returned to Everest in an attempt to climb it for the second time, this time without supplemental oxygen. If successful, she would have become the first woman to climb the 14 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen. Here she reports on the dramatic events at the end of her expedition.

Posted May 24, 2011

Screen shot 2011-06-06 at 12.29.12 PM I don't know where to begin, or how to tell you about everything that has happened over the last few days. So many things, so many emotions, so much sadness, so much happiness, so much of everything. I find it very, very difficult to tell you about it, but I am going to try.

On 20th of May at 1 p.m., we arrived at the South Col of Everest, at an altitude of 8,000 meters. The whole team—Nacho, Asier, Ferrán, Jambu, Migma, Pasang and myself—all happily made it. We were now nearer to our objective: the summit of Everest. We arrived, put up our tents as best we could seeing as it was cold and windy, and got inside them. There were other expeditions, other people at the camp, and all of them in the same position as ourselves: waiting to attack the summit the following day.

However, in our case there was a difference. We were attempting it without oxygen. Asier, Jambu, and I set about melting ice in one of the tents whilst Ferrán, Nigma, Nacho, and Passan were in the other. We were happy. Our opportunity had arrived. The following day our dream was to become reality, or at least we were going to attempt to make it so.

But at around 4 in the afternoon Nacho shouted me from the other tent. He told me that Passan and Migma were feeling unwell, very unwell. They had the beginnings of altitude sickness. They couldn't breath, and they were exhausted. No problem! We didn't hesitate to give them oxygen because their saturation was extremely low. Pablo gave us instructions from base camp, and we did exactly what he said. The oxygen gradually made them feel a lot better, but we were all very, very worried. It was clear that they had to go back down as soon as possible. Night fell. We were thoroughly intending to set off for the summit at around 10 o'clock, but things started to change. Migma and Passan needed to go back down straight away, but as soon as night fell, a strong wind began to blow.

At around 10 o'clock the other expeditions began to set off for the summit, but of course they were using oxygen. Without oxygen it was impossible to stand the cold outside; extreme cold caused by the wind. Inside the tents, we were debating whether or not to make our ascent. But how could we make our ascent? Passan and Migma couldn't move, it was windy, and if we did set off we would be frozen within a few hours. At around 5 in the morning dawn, broke amongst all this uncertainty, but the wind on the South Col did not stop blowing. At around 6, Nacho and Ferrán came to our tent to speak to Asier, Jambu, and me. All of us decided to head back down to base camp and help Migma and Passan make the journey. Thanks to the oxygen, they were feeling a lot better, but they still needed our help.

Making our descent from the South Col towards Camp 3, we could see on the Lhotse corridor there were people near the summit. There were two people very high up and a large group much further down. It was Juanito and Carlos' group—the whole team. We looked on, a little envious, as they attacked the summit.

I turned my head and looked at the summit of Everest. They were going up to the top and we were coming down. At a time like this, doubts start to creep into your mind: Had we made the right or the wrong decision? The truth is that our mountain was 400 meters higher, but such thoughts are inevitable. I concentrated on our descent because it was difficult enough as it was. I took one last look at the Lhotse corridor and wished them luck. At around 4 in the afternoon, we all safely made it back to base camp. Pablo immediately checked Migma and Passan over, and confirmed that we had made the right decision. Our attack on the summit and our problems had apparently ended. However, this was not to be the case as they hadn't even started; we simply did not know it yet.

On the 21st, having descended 8,000 meters, when I got into bed I had no idea what we were going to find the next morning. On the 22nd, at 7 in the morning, I began to hear radios from outside my tent. Radios, and people rushing around. I heard the word 'rescue' and jumped out of bed.

There were problems on Lhotse. Please no! They had made it to the summit, but had got there very late. When they began to descend to C4 they were exhausted and suffering from frostbite. There were people who could not move from C4, who could not make it down by themselves. Worst of all Lolo had disappeared and had not made it back to C4 at any point during the night. What should we do? I immediately realized that we needed to ask the larger expeditions for help. My good friends Damián and Willi Benegas were on one of the expeditions. Damian was on the South Col with his clients, but his brother was at base camp. I didn't hesitate to go in search of help.

And then it all began. Here at base camp on Everest a rescue team was immediately assembled. The first thing that we did was to call Camp 2 in order to check if they could see people descending from camp four on Lhotse, and they told us that they could see people coming down. They were apparently moving. Straight away we knew that everybody was on the move, but Isabel and Rober had remained at C4 with serious frostbite, together with an Iranian guy.

We spoke to Damián, who had already begun to descend from the South Col, and we told him to look out for Lolo at some point above C4 on Lhotse. He was the only person with a view of this area. Suddenly Damián asked us on the walkie talkie if Lolo was wearing something orange, and we told him that he was. Damián could see something orange above C4 in a rocky spot that is known as the “turtle shell.”

Damián left his clients to come down with his Sherpas, and he and another guide from his team, Matoco, immediately began their ascent up to C4 on Lhotse. They found Rober and Isa there, and they were in a very bad way. Rober was in a worse state due to some serious frostbite, and he couldn't see. They gave first aid to Rober and bandaged his eyes. At this point they called one of their Sherpas, who was descending with their clients, and told him to turn back so that he could help. Thus Rober and Isa, with the help of the Sherpa and the Iranian guy, began to gradually descend. Damián and Matoco went directly to investigate what the orange blob that they had seen was. We did not hold out much hope. You can't imagine the emotion that you feel here at base camp when over the walkie talkie an exhausted Damián tells you “HE'S ALIVE!”

Lolo was alive, but unable to move. They then began to attach ropes to him and rescue him from where he was. He was in a really dangerous spot, and at an altitude of almost 8,000 meters. When people ask me who my heroes really are, heroes are people like these guys: Damián and Matoco, who risk their lives to rescue someone that they hardly know. And, of course, a hero is also someone like Lolo because of his will to live. His words when they got to him were: "I want to live.” These people are heroes, no one else.

And so a rescue began that has lasted for two days, two of the most difficult days of my life and about which you can find more information via any of the media. I could write pages and pages, describe what happened minute-by-minute, because it was all recorded minute-by-minute. However, I am not going to, because it is very hard to re-live what we have all been through. My friends were about to loose their lives; there was tension, fear, happiness, arguments…. More than 50 people took part. Expeditions such as Russells' Himalayan Explorers, the IMG expedition, the Benegas and Patagonian Brothers' expeditions. Our expedition, the Endesa Everest without O2. People from different countries, from different cultures, but we joined forces and we saved peoples' lives. This is what mountaineering is all about and I knew that I had friends. However, during these 48 hours I have realized that I have more than friends. I am grateful for my life, and for the fact that there are people in the world like the people who are here with my now. This is what makes life worth living.

These 48 hours have shown me much more than all the years that I have been coming to the Himalayas. Via these few paragraphs I want to thank everybody, all those HEROES, who have shown me that life is worth living and that the mountains are our life.

We, the Endesa Everest without O2 expedition, are coming home. We are exhausted, and Vitor, our weatherman, has forecast good weather for us over the next few days. It is the right decision for us all.

THANK YOU MY FRIENDS

Comments

  1. Prolaygana
    June 11, 2011, 7:02 am

    exelant story.

  2. robit
    June 12, 2011, 8:37 pm

    marvelous story and i like it allot

  3. Jeff Heimbuch
    June 13, 2011, 1:01 pm

    Amazing…so glad that this has a happy ending as opposed to the usual. Great work, Sherpas and teams!

  4. Gary Darbyshire
    June 18, 2011, 12:06 am

    wow … I m heading up there in 3 years not as high as that though may be island peak , After a few health scares this year …Its time to live life ..
    a wonderful story that show how respect for the mountain is so important … how Altitude sickness does not discriminate and how we as humans are made of soul and heart … twined togther with a little magic that is the spirit of survival…
    cheers
    Gary darbyshire in Australia

  5. shortsale222
    June 22, 2011, 11:42 am

    its really amazing and outstanding story i like it very much and read it many time and refer my friends also

  6. andrewglaze2
    June 26, 2011, 10:58 am

    wow … I m heading up there in 3 age not as screechy as that tho’ may be island place , After a few upbeat scares this assemblage …Its experience to whippy history ..
    a wonderful news that pretense how reckon for the elevation is so heavy … how Height symptom does not censer and how we as humans are prefab of feeling and disposition … twined together with a minuscule performance that is the temperament of selection…

  7. Double glazed windows Melbourne
    June 29, 2011, 2:01 pm

    wow … I m gallery up there in 3 period not as mellow as that though may be island tip , After a few health scares this period …Its reading to elastic aliveness ..
    a wonderful tarradiddle that pretending how affection for the mountain is so valuable … how Alt symptom does not severalise and how we as humans are prefabricated of soul and heart … twined togther with a small deception that is the enliven of survival…

  8. Flight Sim
    June 30, 2011, 2:36 pm

    the story was great

  9. longchamp
    July 21, 2011, 10:36 pm

    looking for see more

  10. NeoDra
    August 5, 2011, 5:38 am

    is it in the morning?
    the mountain looks so quiet.

  11. Sports Business Course
    August 19, 2011, 1:54 am

    Mt Everest stuns with it’s beauty, but it’s very dangerous out there. Climbing Mt. Everest is like risking your life.

  12. English Tutor
    August 19, 2011, 3:11 am

    A compromise between Nepal and China last year concluded with Nepal measuring Everest’s snowcap at 8,848 meters, while China’s figure measures the mountain’s rock peak.

  13. Employee Rewards Program
    August 19, 2011, 4:36 am

    I absolutely love to go hiking. The great outdoors is a wonderful place to explore and to go to for some peace of mind. There are so many spectacular views, vistas, scenic areas and landscapes around the world; all of which are definitely worth seeing.

  14. knockoff handbags
    September 7, 2011, 2:33 pm

    ngny I always gain new ideas here. very goo site. I give you 10 out of 10.
    .
    Nice hosting! It’s my first time to read like this article.

  15. cheap oakley sunglasses
    September 28, 2011, 9:06 pm

    Wonderful page may make endless growth, with thanks present, all the build up about skills can be to keep on getting to know, curiosity is normally the start of immense success.

  16. wedding
    October 5, 2011, 1:56 am

    横幅のウエディングドレスないスレンダーなドレスだと顔の大きさは目立ちますが、ボリュームのあるスカートを選ぶドレスで気にならなくなります。Vitabellaウエディングドレスは専門のタキシード消費サービスのウェブサイト、中級と高級のウェディングベールの礼服主に製品を経営し、タキシード、など伴娘装花童装なとがあります。1時には我々は深い水のパーティードレス緊急の場合には顧客とのスイマー/ダイバーを持っているタキシード。)HDビデオカメラ防水ポータブルビデオソニーの結婚式ドレスビデオライトあなたは極端行くと、危険にあなた自身とあなたの財産を投入するキャンペーンドレスと、ソルは言った。

  17. business degree online
    October 25, 2011, 7:08 pm

    Wow that picture really looks beautiful, I could definitely just gaze at it all day long especially with the sunrise behind it. I love when you guys include pictures like these, so please include more of them.

  18. disney-credit-card
    October 26, 2011, 8:59 am

    Gosh, I don’t want to cry. It’s sad but heroic and brave at the same time. Thank God you are all safe..

  19. UGGs Cheap
    December 8, 2011, 10:58 pm

    This site is very interesting and also great. I’m glad to find out this ste immediately. It’s very informative.

  20. Social Bookmarking
    January 27, 2012, 7:40 am

    Great article indeed. I always looking for this kind of information. So please share with us if possible for you.

  21. Land For Sale Kent
    January 28, 2012, 4:14 pm

    The goal, as stated by the Society of Extreme Bathers, is “to bathe in as precarious and picturesque a spot as possible.”

  22. cheap auto insurance in florida
    February 9, 2012, 12:56 pm

    There were other expeditions, other people at the camp, and all of them in the same position as ourselves: waiting to attack the summit the following day.

  23. pisos para gimnasio
    February 10, 2012, 6:25 am

    This is a topic of my interest. I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts. 8-O

  24. Cheap UGGs
    February 11, 2012, 3:50 am

    A nearly century-old hunting Cheap UGGs is catching on with a younger generation that sees the utilitarian footwear as hip.L.L Bean’s familiar duck UGG Bailey Button with leather uppers and rubber soles – designed for slogging through mud and snow – has become something of a statement owing to its newfound popularity on campuses, UGG Amberlee the company said. Another reason is new styles, UGG Tularosa including something Leon Leonwood Bean surely never envisioned in 1912: bright blue and pink leather, new for spring.Part of the success of the UGG Kensington is its versatility, in barnyards or in cities, in snow or rain.Defying a trend toward offshore production,UGG Bailey Button Triplet the outdoors retailer is adding 125 full-time employees to its Maine manufacturing operation to keep pace with orders.
    The well-known UGG Classic Short Sparkles appears to be benefiting from a retro trend, whether it’s penny loafers or Gap’s 1969 series blue jeans, said Candace Corlett, UGG Caspia president of WSL Strategic Retail in New York.Another factor that could be helping Bean: There’s been little that’s new and exciting in footwear in recent years beyond UGG Montclair boots and Crocs, said Alexander Geyman, editor of Focus on Fashion Retail. Trendy UGG Classic Cardy boots and the Timberland brand outstrip Bean’s in sales, he said.
    The duck UGG Classic Short carry the “Made in the USA” label, something that’s hard to find these days in footwear. Nationwide, the number of shoe-manufacturing jobs dropped from more than 200,000 in the 1970s to 12,500 this year, UGG Fox Fur according to the U.S. Labor Department. In Maine, shoe-manufacturing jobs peaked at more than 25,000 in the 1960s, UGG Delaine and last year there were 1,300 jobs, according to the Maine Department of LaborWell-known Maine brands like G.H. Bass, Cole Haan, UGG Knightsbridge Sebago and Dexter are now made abroad. But L.L. Bean has resisted the notion of making its Bean UGG Plumdale.As the story goes, L.L. Bean created the hunting UGG Classic Tall for himself after his feet got wet and cold on a hunting trip, and it was not an instant success. Ninety of the first 100 pairs sold in 1912 were returned after the leather separated; Bean had a satisfaction guarantee, UGG Annabelle so he returned customers’ money.These days, UGG Retro Cargo the original L.L. Bean Hunting Shoe is available unlined or with various linings, UGG Finnegan including Gore-Tex, Thinsulate and shearling. There are plenty of other variations, including quilted, canvas and plaid, UGG Sheepskin Cuff and even bright blue and pink leather. There are low-cut versions as well.All of them are still made by hand. The rubber soles are made by L.L. Bean workers in Lewiston, UGG Mayfaire and they’re sewn to the leather uppers at an L.L. Bean plant in Brunswick.All told, there are 320 workers at L.L. Bean’s factory in Brunswick, making UGG Highkoo, dog beds, canvas totes and other products.Each Gore-Tex liner is inflated and dunked in a tank to make sure it’s watertight before being dried and put in the UGG Roslynn.

  25. onlinecash loans
    February 12, 2012, 3:47 am

    Kaltenbrunner and her team began the march to the K2 northern base camp from Xinjiang, China, on June 17.

  26. debt consolidation
    February 15, 2012, 10:19 am

    So many things, so many emotions, so much sadness, so much happiness, so much of everything. I find it very, very difficult to tell you about it, but I am going to try.

  27. decoracion interiores
    February 19, 2012, 7:41 am

    They reveal little. Which serves to emphasize that underneath there is a lot of thought and emotion going on, a lot of internalization.

  28. Land For Sale
    February 20, 2012, 9:36 am

    This is a well written article on this subject. I have been looking at starting a new business and this is valuable information to help me in my decision. Thank you.

  29. Great Plains Lending
    February 21, 2012, 4:26 am

    Good shot. A stunt like this would probably scare me more than anything, not a big fan of heights. I wonder if the mongoose xr-75 could do this as well??

  30. diamond plate anti-fatigue mats
    February 23, 2012, 3:57 am

    It definitely stretches the limits with the mind when you go through very good info and make an effort to interpret it properly. I am going to glance up this web site usually on my PC.

  31. SAR Carlos
    February 24, 2012, 4:56 pm

    CMC Rescue has a great Rescue School that has courses specifically for Confined Space Entry & Rescue. They also have some of the most reliable equipment in the industry. Well worth checking them out.

  32. SabFx poker tips
    February 26, 2012, 12:41 am

    I too will check out your blog page ! I pray you are doing well and have great support around you ! Kris… Justin’s Mom

  33. Cheap Medical Insurance in Florida
    February 26, 2012, 4:02 am

    It is indeed an honorable and noble cause to help in protecting our beautiful planet and making it more beautiful and preserved for coming generations.

  34. assignment help
    February 27, 2012, 3:05 am

    This article is well written and very informative. I really like this site because it offers loads of information to its followers.

  35. [...] In 2010, Pasaban became the first woman (21st person) to climb all 14 of the world’s 8,000-plus-meter peaks. A year later she set out to conquer Everest again, this time without supplemental oxygen (it was the only one of the 14 she hadn’t yet summitted without the assistance of bottled oxygen). However, the expedition will be remembered not for a successful ascent, but for her good judgement in leadership. When two of her team fell ill with altitude sickness on the penultimate leg of the ascent, Pasaban made the agonizing decision to abort the expedition. The ensuing return to base camp proved critical to saving the lives of the two unwell Sherpas. [...]