International Mountain Guides (www.mountainguides.com) Everest 2002 Expedition

Dispatch 6 Bad Days on the Lhotse Face: Friday was spent putting ABC back together after the high winds of the day before.  Many teams had sustained some damage to their tents.  Saturday was a good day, and a number of Sherpas were able to push up to the Yellow Band and fix rope.  Sunday also started out nice and Kevin Flynn, Stuart Smith, and Ted Wheeler of the IMG group climbed up to Camp 3 to spend the night.  By evening it had started to snow and the wind was picking up.  It was stormy all night, and also on Monday morning. Also at Camp 3 were two members of the Himalayan Guides (HG) team, Laszlo Mecs (known as Laci by his friends, from Hungary) and Peter Legate (38,  from UK), whose tents were near to the IMG tents.  The three IMG climbers stayed pinned down on Monday, secure in the Eureka 5th Season tents we have pitched there, until about 2 pm, when it started to look like the weather was improving.  Ted and Kevin decided to pack up and try to go down to Camp 2, and started down around 3pm, but after going about 25% of the way down the fixed ropes, the weather became worse with blowing snow and zero visibility.  They wisely decided to go back up to Camp 3 to join Stuart, who had decided not to try to go down.  They got back to Camp 3 and all the climbers spent a second night there, with wind and snow continuing until about 2am

We talked to the IMG climbers at 6am on Tuesday morning and they reported the weather was better, with clear skies, still some wind, but not too bad.  They said they were starting to pack up and get ready to go down.  About 6:15am the IMG team at Camp 2, reported on the radio that they could see the two HG climbers starting to leave Camp 3. The IMG climbers at Camp 3 confirmed that they had heard the HG climbers leaving at that time. Then disaster struck on the Lhotse Face.

The story that was later told by Laci the Hungarian HG climber was that he had started down from Camp 3 first, pulling the fixed rope out of the snow.  After he had gone ahead some distance, he had looked back and exchanged waves with his partner Peter, who was just starting down from Camp 3.  Then Laci started down again, then stopped and looked back up again, just in time to see Peter bouncing and cart wheeling down the slope toward him. Peter went past Laci at terminal velocity and continued all the way down the face until he went into the bergschrund at the bottom of the Lhotse Face.  Peterís body was spotted by Laci at the bottom, obviously dead, deep in the bergschrund below the Face.. 

Laci continued to descend  to Camp 2, where he joined with Dave Hahn, Ben Marshall, Mark Tucker, Jake Norton, and Phil Ershler of the IMG group.  They all went back up to the base of the face, where they met the three IMG climbers descending from Camp 3.  Kevin, Ted, and Stuart all continued down to Camp 2 (all are fine) while the rescue party went to the accident site.  Here Laci was lowered deep down into the bergschrund to recover personal items from Peter. Recovery of his body was deemed not feasible and the remains were committed to the mountain at this location.  All the climbers descended to Camp 2 after this tragedy.

Eric Simonson

Expedition Leader

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