Andy Lapkass is one of the really good guys, I
first met him in '93 working on the South Side.
He had just spent 6 hours bringing a sick
climber through the Icefall and was completely
shattered. Showing not only that he was
physically tired but emotionally drained from
his extended period of concern for the sick guy
in a dangerous place.
Four months later I was on Pumori and we climbed
the SE Ridge and the East Face, he had a small
group and after summiting the East Face came to
thank me for putting in the route, plugging the
steps. I told him about our SE Ridge success. He
speculated about a traverse, went out and soloed
it, I was amazed at his strength and commitment.
I knew he'd climbed a lot in the late seventies
with Alex Lowe but didn't know he was that
I asked my friends who'd been on K2 and other
mountains with him, and learned more about him.
I found that he was as selfless as he is
good. I was told that he was the best American
to invite on big trips. As Pete Athans called
him, he's 'a monster on the hill' very
strong, good judgment, a huge presence on the
mountain, and a delight to expedition with.
He took time out to become a physicians
assistant in the nineties then came back and
climbed in quick succession Cho Oyu,
Everest a couple of times, then Lhotse and to
complete the cirque, Nuptse. The only climber to
have climbed all three. Now he has the full set
North side & South side Everest, Lhotse and
Nuptse. A very formidable achievement.
That he stayed with his client on the North side
last night is as you'd expect and bivi'd above
the second step to keep him alive is no less
than typical dedication of this selfless hero.
That this effort saved the clients life at
whatever personal cost is no surprise, we all
knew he would do this without question.