Tragedy struck our team
This is an official statement from the expedition leader Arnold Coster about the events that happened between 19 and 22 May. While we were still rescuing our team members Rob down other people unfortunately already posted news about these events before we had a chance to descend down to Camp 2 safely and inform family members ourselves. Rob got evacuated from Base Camp on 22 May. This is a brief description of what happened.
On 20 May our apparently perfect looking summit push turned into disaster. On 19 May the whole team left the South Col and everybody summited the next day, except Marisa who decided to turn around just above the the South Summit at 8am in the morning, due to fatigue. All went according to plan, but on the descent two of our members got sick, which resulted in the loss in two off our friends Eric & Marisa. Our team members & staff are totally beaten by our rescue attempts, but arrived back in Base Camp at 23 May.
Eric summited Mount Everest on 20 May 8am and fulfilled his childhood dream. During the ascent he was doing well, but after the South Summit he was struggling a bit. Descending from the summit he became slower and slower and it became clear that something was wrong. His Sherpa who was climbing with him from the beginning requested to send an additional Sherpa up with more supplementary Oxygen to help him down. After this we managed to bring him down to the South Col in a reasonable time; he looked beaten, but mentally fine. We brought him to his tent, gave him more Oxygen, lots off drinks and food and it looked like he was recovering. Unexpectedly Eric passed away that evening in his tent accompanied by a Member and Sherpa in his tent.
Marisa was doing well until the “Balcony”, but became very slow after this and decided to turn around on the South Summit at 8am in the morning. Normally this would give her enough time to descent safely, but her condition deteriorated rapidly. Halfway between the South Summit and Balcony she was hardly able to move and became very confused. Her Husband and several Sherpa’s struggled all night to bring her down and miraculously she made it back to the South Col 2am that night, after spending 31 hours above the camp. We managed to stabilize her that night with Medicine & Oxygen and Marisa was able to walk out off the tent herself the next morning. Helicopter rescue is only possible from Camp 3, so we continued our descent the next morning. Marisa was able to walk herself, but 2 hours out off camp she collapsed on the “Geneva Spur”. Her Husband tried to retrieve her, but this was not possible anymore. Rob was evacuated by helicopter from Camp 2 the next day and is in Kathmandu now.
At the moment we are assembling a rescue team to try to retrieve the bodies. These tragic events numbed the whole team and our thoughts are with their family and friends. May they rest in peace.
Arnold Coster, expedition leader