While our climbers were unable to summit Peak Lenin in 2017 (when so close to the top), this story is anything but bad news. Instead, it is one of compassion and what mountain culture should be about.
At just 250 metres below the summit, our team found a solo climber who was not with an expedition and was in severe distress.
Other teams had passed her without coming to her aid and she’d spent the night above 7000 metres, without her pack, having climbed the central summit and then setting out for the true summit without it.
She was suffering from hypothermia, frostbite and suspected cerebral oedema. She was clearly in very bad shape and would have died if Soren, our mountaineering expedition leader, and the World Expeditions team had not intervened.
The rescue mission
A rescue was mounted at 6900 metres, which is beyond difficult. Soren, Alex (Russian guide) as well as fellow World Expedition travellers; Glenn, Warren and Edie, helped get her to Camp 3 at 6100 metres. The next day they pressed on to Camp 1, at which point she was passed into the care of the Russians on the mountain.
Though she suffered from frostbite on parts of her body, she thankfully survived and fully recovered from the incident.
The summit was within reach for our climbers and they gave up the chance, valuing life over the peak.
Soren described the event as an easy decision despite the views of other teams, as illustrated on the mountain, being very different.
True to the tenets of mountaineering
In the mountaineering world where summit bagging is often espoused as the ultimate aim, the selflessness of our team of climbers and their gallant, unabashed actions is something that we’re all very proud of and applaud.
They acted in the true and right spirit of mountaineering; those on the peak who witnessed their actions were in awe and offered their esteem. The way Soren handled this situation is a credit to him. We pass on our sincere thanks and congratulations to the team members and crew for their efforts, and again to Soren for his outstanding leadership on this trip.
As he said, “The mountain will be there next year and in 30 years; saving a life will be remembered, rather than the summit.”
The team of climbers returned to Peak Lenin base camp for a hard-earned hot shower following a climb which can best be regarded as setting the bar for mountaineering ethics.
And while our Peak Lenin climbers were unable to make the summit in July 2017, we will be returning this year to finish what they started. With only limited spots left on our Peak Lenin Expedition departing this July, it’s not too late to join.