First thing this morning I awoke to a frantic display of base camp mayhem. People running around. Word of frozen climbers, huge storms and no communication were abuzz. As we prepared med. kits, oxygen bottles & stretchers, A small team of international climbers, including myself were trying to piece together a rescue plan for an unknown number of victims stranded somewhere between 7300m and 8000m.
In the next few moments, some more distilled news started to filter down from the high camps. There were two victims, one with frozen feet and one with frozen hands. Also, news of an Argentinean climber that was in trouble. My god, Naucho. My dear friend and one of the coolest guys I've met.
No word from JR & Francois or our dedicated high altitude porter Asgar either. Everything was set for our big rescue when JR's voice crackled over the radio. "Um, Chris, we had a big surprise last night, a big storm. We are finished, nearly at camp 2."
I immediately asked about the status of Naucho and the rest of the team. "Naucho has very cold feet but they do not seem to be frost bitten, he is ok, everyone is fine and will sleep at camp 2 this evening"
I am so so relieved. Not to be melodramatic but this morning really tore me apart. I know that these things are part of life in the mountains but it is impossible to get used to it. It is the price some of us pay to visit the most amazing places on earth. Some come home, some stay here forever.
Right now, 2 men. One with frozen feet and one with frozen hands are being helped down to a heli-pad that has been prepared at 5900m camp 1. If the weather stays stable, 2 Llama choppers will arrive this afternoon for evacuation to Skardu.
Once again, all FTA members are fine and I will make sure everyone makes it safely back to base camp.