Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Winter 2014 | Injured Climbers Carried Down in Stretchers

After awaiting heli-evacuation for two days, the injured Polish climbers Pawel Dunaj and Michal Obrycki have now been carried down from Base Camp to Tarashing in stretchers. As per team’s Facebook communiqué, they were expected to be shifted to either Skardu or Gilgit by jeep.

Pawel and Michal were hit by an avalanche at around 5000m on Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, they were on the upper part of avalanche and didn’t get buried in the debris. However, they slid around 300-400m and suffered major injuries including multiple bone fractures.

The immediate rescue operation launched by Tomek Mackiewicz, Jacek Teler and their chefs, and assisted by a dozen of local villagers, was successful in bring them down to Latabo BC on Sunday morning at around 4am. Arrangements for heli-evacuation were made the same day (on Sunday), but unfortunately the weather wasn’t favourable.

Tomek Mackiewicz , Pawel Dunaj , Jacek Teler and Emilio Previtali, a few minutes before the North Face team left Nanga Parbat on March 3rd, 2014. Photo: Emilio Previtali

The snowstorm had denied the flight to Nanga Parbat BC for two days. Weather was still bad, when the difficult decision to carry the injured climbers in stretcher was made this morning. The team had already run out of medication and pain-killers, and it was risky to keep waiting for improvement in conditions.

The climbers were carried in stretchers from BC to nearest town Tarashing, from where they were scheduled to leave for either Gilgit or Skardu by road. Both of these cities are equipped with better medical facilities and have airports for any emergency movement to Islamabad. Today’s rescue mission was again attended by dozens of local villagers, whose support has been vital in saving the climbers.

Jacek Teler traveled with Pawel and Michal this morning, while Tomek remained at Base Camp. It’s not clear whether Tomek will go up to retrieve the gear from C2 or not. (Polish team left some gear in C2 for the projected fourth summit push). The summit attempt, however, looks out of question now.

Update (March 13, 2014)
The descent from BC to Tarashing wasn't as quick as expected. It took them two days to reach Tarashing. Yesterday on the fifth day of accident, Michal and Pawel eventually reached a hospital in Skardu. Jacek is also with them. The two climbers are doing 'well'.

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