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