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 Andy Lapkass

Andy Lapkass (USA). Andy has been on more than 20 Himalayan expeditions and has reached the Summit of Everest three times. This was his second season as a guide on Russell Brice's  Everest expedition. Andy also competes in adventure races. He and Ellen Miller were on the same team in the Borneo Eco-Challenge, competing against Owen West. But who is Andy? We asked Henry Todd, the Everest legend, for whom Andy had worked several times as a guide to tell us about Andy. As a frame of reference, Henry's comments below were made on May 24th before any of us knew how things turned out or any of the published reports were released.
Andy and Russ Brice discussing plans Everest 2001
Copyright©Chris Warner, Earth Treks/Himalayan Experience

     Henry Todd: 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 strong.

     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.

    Cheers, Henry

Update 6/08/2001: Sources report to EverestNews.com that Andy Lapkass suffered severe frostbite on his feet, on his two thumbs, and nose. He is at home right now. The report in an interview with Jaime Viρals on Radio Sideral that he was in the hospital was incorrect.

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