Rescue Season Begins
April 14, 1997
By Liesl Clark
This year, teams have been setting the route early and there is news that Camp
I was established as early as mid-March. Calls for help are also coming in
early. "This year we have already been radioed by climbers with altitude
sickness at Camp I asking for a helicopter rescue," said Colonel Madan K.C.
from Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport.
Colonel Madan was the Nepalese Army helicopter pilot who volunteered to rescue
American climber Beck Weathers and Taiwanese climber Makalu Gau from Camp I
last year in an Ecuriel AS350 B2 helicopter. It was the highest Himalayan
helicopter rescue in history. "Because of what we did last year, I'm afraid
we've set a precedent for climbers who want to be lifted off the mountain from
near Camp I with only minor problems," said Madan.
Colonel Maddan assured us, however, that he is refusing to rescue anyone who is
able to walk down to Base Camp or who can be safely evacuated via stretcher.
"It is our duty to help when we can, but we must consider the safety of the
helicopter and the pilots when determining the necessity of these extremely
dangerous high altitude helicopter rescues." Last year's rescue by Madan was
perhaps the only hope for Weathers and Gau, who were assisted down the mountain
from the high camps by David Breashears, Ed Viesturs, and Pete Athans, among
As this newsflash is being written, NOVA Everest Expedition's Sirdar,
Jangbu Sherpa, and Deputy Expedition Leader, Pete Athans, are in the
Icefall, descending from Camp I. Check back tomorrow to hear Pete and
Jangbu's impressions of the route through the Icefall.