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Gheorghe (aka George) Dijmarescu: Everest 2002

WHAT PRICE WOULD YOU PAY FOR YOUR OWN LIFE?

Part two: I will like to make a correction on the part one and that's about the Oxygen mask I mention the two Germans had left on camp 3 in order to save weight. That was not true they did had the mask with them but without any bottle of Oxygen. After Claudia and Hartmut were relatively safe in the tent, I went to see the condition of the other tent which I found it to be in livable conditions. It had at least 6 foam mattresses and 2 burners with several gas cartridges, also a roll of prayer flags and some typical Sherpa food, all this let me to believe that this tent was the temporary house of some Sherpa. Regardless of the owners there is a unwritten rule in the mountain, in case of emergency climbers can seek shelter in wherever tent or place available, it worked in the past and I hope will work in the future. We had a legitimate emergency and as long as we didn't damage the tents and the property inside all should have been fine. The German couple had 3 walky talky one they hand it to me, they kept one and the last one was with Mingma
their Sherpa. Once in the tent I started to try make a radio contact with Mingma and after several minutes, he came on the air but at first I couldn't understand him since he was in ABC and to far away for the unsophisticated radio to have a good contact. When I can hear him well was a disappointment. I was asking him to come up and help rescue his members to which he was responsible. He came on and said: Che rescue? In  almost a scream I told him that the situation is so serious, weather is deteriorating every hour and he will be responsible in part for the circumstances. I think he was convinced since he started towards us at noon with hot drinks some food and for me 2 bottles of mineral water as for my request. The wind down below was just as vicious or worst. I kept radio contact with Mingma every 30 minutes or so and related his progress to Claudia who was just yards away from me. Mingma reported very strong winds, I could hear it on the radio and I felt pity for this young Sherpa who was now the only one going upwards. At 7500m he radio that he needed to take a rest and shelter to one of the tents there, Mingma is a young but tenacious climber and for him to seek shelter must have been a horrible climbing day. The wait was long and Mingma continued to report that the weather is getting worst. I fear Mingma will have to abandon his climb and be forced to return to North Col, in this case Hartmut's life would have been in great danger. Another night at that altitude without liquids plus the moral factor it might have put his life right at the edge. The next day perhaps he couldn't stand and almost impossible to be carried down, or as it happened the next day was even worst. At 6:15 PM I hear Mingma calling around, he entered the tent and collapse on the floor, I made room for him to rest comfortably and he described the horror he just gone through, then he dropped the bomb: "I didn't bring any sleeping bag with me" I said that's great now we can freeze to death. Sharps know almost everything that's happening in the mountain and Mingma knew there was a sleeping bag somewhere, he went out and after 5 minutes he came to my shock with a sleeping bag 1/4 inc thick something use by the folks in Florida. A totally useless thing at that altitude and in this weather. Mingma also had no down suit just a cheap Nepali "Gore Tex" suit, on the other part I was wearing a full "The North Face down suit" and I was confident I would survive the night only with some chill. I was concerned about the feet, fortunately all four of us had "One Sport" in my opinion The boot for Everest. After making an inventory of what we have and what we would like to have Mingma went to Claudia and Hartmut's tent to asses the situation and to give them hot drinks. After aprox.  1/2 hour he returned to "our" tent and started to make tea for himself (I never drink hot drinks in mountains) myself I was emptying the second bottle of mineral water. It took Mingma more than an hour to make enough tea for the night, then we prepared for wherever the night might bring. Was total dark now and the wind stronger and stronger, sometime as we waited in silence I could hear a stronger gust coming toward us like an approaching freight train, then BOOOOOM and we braced the walls of the tent in hope of saving it from collapsing, a snapping pole could have spell disaster or at best agony. Again and again we were hit by ferocious gusts stronger all the time. Mingma used the thin sleeping bag to protect his body, however the stinging cold made him to keep his body glue to mine, he put his hands inside my down jacket, legs wrapped with as much body contact as possible for warmth (we are both strait) We were trying to sleep but at least for me was near impossible, since I braced my back to the vulnerable wall and Mingma always pushing against me, the wind was rocking us all the time and after few hours my neck was stiff and cold. Twice I asked Mingma to make a cold "Tung juice" for me, with all the mineral water finished I felt the need to drink, I knew drinking means surviving longer and I wanted to survive badly. Our "Mountain Hardwear" temporary shelter had survived the night, Mingma and I Claudia and Hartmut. In the morning the wind was still very strong but now we had the light of the day on our side and we all knew that we had to go down at least to the North Col. Mingma went and helped Hartmut strap his crampons and then he attached a rope to his harness in order to short rope him. Hartmut look exhausted, his head always down and he used every opportunity to sit down. After making few steps I knew Mingma will have a hell of a job getting this guy down, half of the way through difficult rock boulders a dangerous section since a fall could be fatal to Hartmut. Mingma had him on short rope but no control over Hartmut's legs and stability. Mingma will let him rest as long as he wanted but also they had to make some progress, it was clear to all that will be no more nights over 7000m. I went ahead in hope to meet someone with radio, German's radio was useless in communicating with other expeditions, we didn't know anybody's frequency. I needed to speak with Maila our cook, he is strong man who climb before, I couldn't dare ask our group Sherpa for a rescue they just returned from the summit and understandably very tired. Just below the 7500m camp I met 2 Sherpa from one of the Japanese teams, they had a radio and nice enough to call their camp and send word to our camp for a rescue support. The Japanese camp was relatively far from ours and the two Sherpa continue upwards, they to were in a rescue mission. As I went down I try to make as much progress as possible, I look up to see if Mingma came out of the rocky section and on the more gentle snowy part from 7500m below. Only when I reached North Col I could see Mingma and Hartmut sitting very often but they were making progress this time, the thicker richer air was doing magic to Hartmut. 

 

Shortly after I reached the North Col, our Sherpa, Ang Mingma, (again) Krisna and Nangle appeared and asked where is Hartmut, I pointed towards the North Ridge and without even to rest a minute Krisna started towards the needy man, then follow Ang Mingma. After almost an hour I could see Ang Mingma carrying Hartmut on his back with the help of a rope sling, he put Hartmut down almost in front of us and he to sat down and rested. Hartmut's head was again down, in pain or embarrassment. Claudia was tired but fit to continue the descent, however Hartmut mention he will like to rest for a while. The radio contact worked, I was taken by surprise to see the Sherpa back on the mountain, something which only they can do, strength, stamina good heart and perhaps strong religious believes, love and respect for all living things. Confident that we had enough rescue power and in particular Sherpa with technical rescue training I felt for the first time Hartmut just cheated death on Mt Everest. After aprox. one hour of rest Sherpa decided it was time to go down to ABC and conclude this rescue. Again rope tied to Hartmut and Sherpa around him he was as safe as he could be, step by step with again rests of a minute or more. The first part had the most incline so extra attention was paid, then came an easy part when Sherpa use it to untangle the ropes were attached to his harness. They asked me for a knife and they decided to cut Hartmut's harness fact which irritated him, he didn't say a word just a high pitch "aaaaaaaaaa" but Sherpa knew what they were doing and just continue their job. I was advised by Ang Mingma that was safe now to go ahead and announce Maila to bring up some hot drinks. Claudia chose to stay with the group motivating that is still a possibility that Hartmut might loose his consciousness and she might have to give him "Dex" again. (She give him one shot at the 8200m elevation) At the bottom of the North Col I noticed Maila coming towards us and a back  full of drinks and snacks. Lower down I met Hans a Dutch member of our group, I asked him to continue up and help the now tired Sherpa. Hans was shaking my hands and almost embraced me saying: "Man you are alive, you are not dead", I was taken by surprise, later to learn that the night before those in ABC prayed for my departed soul. There were reports that some Sherpa saw a man falling near summit, a report that some Sherpa saw someone falling between fist and second step and another report that some people saw a man falling near camp 3. Because I fail to come back on the next day after the summit and with the knowledge of those reports my group declared me lost and because I was no more they also drank my beer. When I arrived at ABC Wilco the other Dutch expressed his gratitude and surprise that I was alive, everyone shook my hand and I was offered a Chinese beer. Claudia came first, then Hartmut and his life saving Sherpa. A bunch of people had attended Hartmut and his frost bitten fingers and toes, a doctor from the Swiss-German group, our member and doctor Jorge, Hans, Claudia, Simone Moro, and others. I chose to stay away in the kitchen tent, medicine was something I have no knowledge of and with 2 doctors at hand it was better I stay away. We descended couple of days later towards the BC, Hartmut and Claudia as well. They made special agreements with Hans and Simone for some help, I had no knowledge of the details. Hartmut was moving very slowly with numerous stops, he was bending over his walking stick panting and in pain. I knew with that speed they can only reach Chantse camp and I express this concern to Maila, our cook who was going down with me. We reached the BC at 5 PM and learned at diner that everybody was angry with the Germans. 

 

Hans and Jorge mentioned to me that the Germans had not even thank them once then I remembered that same thing happened to me, not a single THANK YOU. The Germans were asking for a yak but the Liaison Officer decline such a dream rescue. I was told that the two don't deserved any more help and that those in Base Camp will not assist them in any way. The only reason I continue to help them was that I knew better Hartmut situation and if something tragic will happened to him I couldn't live with myself. They had food only for a night and was no way they could reach BC in 2 days without some help. Secretly from the liaison officer I arranged for 3 Tibetan yak herders and we struck the deal of $25.00 per person per rescue, a total of $75.00. Tibetan rescuers brought Hartmut to BC, however we got busted by the Liaison Officer and Hartmut paid a fine of $30.00 money for which he didn't issue a receipt.

 

In conclusion Hartmut paid Ang Mingma $40.00, Krisna and Nangle the same amount, a total of $120.00. Now I am coming back to that first question: How much would you pay so a Sherpa can save your life? 

 

Remember he gave Hartmut a bottle of Oxygen at 8200m, altitude when his girl friend was giving Hartmut "Dex' in order to keep Hartmut "with us", then he came back and helped Hartmut, then again at the North Col. Also remember these Sherpa had no obligation towards Hartmut but they extended their hands and yes saved Hartmut's life. These people are poor people compare with our standards.

 

They deserve a decent pay check and I will tell you why: In the future people in need like Hartmut might not be saved because of a bad  experience like this.

 

Send them what's theirs so they can have confidence in "members" that they will be rewarded and continue to remain.

 

LIFE SAVING SHERPAS.

God bless.
George Dijmarescu
PS I will be back with the rescue of the Japanese old man

 

Editorial Note: Hartmut at last note was in the hospital, he has promised a full report which we will pubish. It is hard to say what "shape" his mind was during these events. 

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