Dhaulagiri | "Juanjo Garra Suffered an Accident at 8000m"

(New updates are being edited at the bottom of this post.)

Day-1 (23-05-13)
Juanjo Garra’s home team tweeted this evening,
"News reaching us from Dhaulagiri is not what we expected. Juanjo has suffered a minor accident & is trying to reach C3." 

But the details of ‘minor’ accident are quite intense. Juanjo is spending the night at 8000m, probably with a broken ankle, while his teammates have descended to organize and carry out a rescue operation tomorrow morning in day light.


Weather on Dhaulagiri has largely been bad, this season. Several summit pushes were thwarted due to poor visibility and strong winds. After acclimatization and waiting for a weather window, Catalonians Juanjo Garra, Manuel 'Lolo' González and Enrique Osiel started their summit climb on 19th May. They left BC at 3am and were in C1 by 9am. Next day, they moved to C2. When they reached C3 on 21st May, the summit weather wasn’t promising. Wind was pacing up and forecast showed no hopes. It was then that, the tough conditions forced Enrique Osiel to abandon the climb. Juanjo and Lolo tried to march towards the summit on 22nd May but strong wind pushed them back to C3. The duo decided to stay there and wait for improved conditions. It appears that they started the summit bid hoping to reach the summit on 23rd.


At the end of the day, news arrived about the accident. Juanjo’s home team thinks that accident happened during descent after he had successful summited the peak. They assume that one of the porters skated and dragged Juanjo along. Exact details about the incident are not known yet. At the moment, although Juanjo is alone at 8000m, his condition seems pretty stable. It’s believed that his ‘satisfactory condition’ encouraged fellow climbers to leave him at 8000m and plan a rescue tomorrow.

Juanjo Garra is a social worker and has climbed more than half of 8000ers. He is also a film-maker and an author of three books.

Previouslyon Dhaulagiri, a French expedition left the mountain without success at the start of this month. Polish Pawel Michalski and Simone la Terra made some desperate but unsuccessful attempts to reach the summit. In their last attempt, they were within 67m of summit but couldn’t find the way up summit dome. An expedition organized by AMICAL alpin were also at C3 waiting for summit window. The Polish Mountaineering Association (PZA) Expedition has also ended without success. One member Agnieszka Bielecki was with Pawel and Simone when they reached 8100m. Another Japanese expedition is seemingly still on the mountain.

Day-2 (24-05-13)

Update-1 (24-5-13): 1130Hrs Nepal Time
Home team spoke with with Juanjo. It appears that the sherpa who skated yesterday, came up again and spent the night with him. Although details about rescue are not known, it's said that a helicopter is being arranged from Everest region that can manage rescue at altitude.

Update-2 (24-5-13): 1400Hrs Nepal Time
Desnivel reports the rescue efforts being organized by Spaniard Sebastian Alvaro.
Report [Google Translated]. Please visit Desnivel website for further details
"We have talked to Sebastian Alvaro, who has confirmed that Plan A is that Simone Moro and his partner Maurizio Folini shifting in your helicopter to the Dhaulagiri to attempt the rescue of Juanjo Garra. If you do not see it feasible, at least try to throw supplies and equipment from the apparatus to buy some time before returning to base camp of Everest. There Txikon Alex embark on, Ferran Latorre and a group of Sherpas willing to be moved up as high as possible in the Dhaulagiri and help Juanjo Garra descend to an elevation where possible air evacuation."

Update-3 (24-5-13): 1700Hrs Nepal Time
As per Juanjo's home team tweet, it appears that the helicopter has reached Dhaulagiri and is evaluating rescue options. Keep fingers crossed for a positive news and safe rescue.

Update-4 (24-5-13): 1830Hrs Nepal Time
Helicopter couldn't reach Juanjo, but leaves three sherpas with oxygen, water, and clothing at around 6300m.

Update-5 (24-5-13): 1905Hrs Nepal Time
Simone Moro flies the helicopter back to Everest BC to collect Ferran Latorre, Alex Txikon and some more fellows to carry out rescue work tomorrow. Juanjo's home team is updating the progress on twitter.

Update-6 (24-5-13): 2100Hrs Nepal Time.
Finally, some positive news has arrived from Dhaulagiri Sebastian Alvaro who is managing the rescue operation has shared following fresh details on his Facebook page.

1. Juanjo and the Sherpa have managed to descend to an estimated height of 7600m (it's just a rough idea, no verification). Having spent a night at above 8000m, there are chances that sherpa might have some frostbite. They still have to spend another night in open.

2. The three sherpas who were dropped at 6300m must have started climbing. If everything goes well, they would reach the injured climber and sherpa sometime tomorrow. This shall help in stabilizing the condition of both Juanjo and sherpa.

3. Simone Moro would take Alex Txikon, Ferran Latorre, Jorge Egocheaga and Damian Bebegas from Everest BC to Dhaulagiri tomorrow. Simone Moro would try to take helicopter as high as possible.

4. Strong climbers would join the rescue operation, that the three sherpas would already be doing. The chances of heli-evacuation would depend upon weather conditions.

5. Manuel 'Lolo' González, the climber pushed for summit, with Juanjo is still in C3. From Sebastian's dispatch it appears that his life was also in danger yesterday, when he reached C3. But he has stabilized now. Probably, he was in no shape to go up to assist Juanjo and sherpa.

6. Let's hope and pray that tomorrow brings more good news. The season should end at a positive note. Dhaulagiri weather forecast can be seen here.

Special mention:-
From the available details, it appears that there are many selfless efforts and should be mentioned specially. Respect for the brave men.

1. The unknown Kheshap sherpa, whose skating was unfortunate cause of Juanjo's accident:- During descent he safely brought Lolo to C3, went up again to 8000m, spent the night with Juanjo, today helped him in descending to 7600m and is still with him. While the exact details from the mountain are not available, the sherpa's efforts are simply mind blowing.

2. Sebastian Alvaro: He undertook the task of managing rescue operation and is doing it amazingly well.

3. Simone Moro and Maurizio Folini: They left everything and started the rescue operation, immediately. Without their support, the whole operation wouldn't have been possible.

4. Three Sherpas and Four Climbers, the rescue team: Some of them are already climbing while others will join tomorrow. Their gallant and generous efforts are worth mentioning.

Day-3 25-05-13

Update-7 (25-5-13): 1045Hrs Nepal Time
Three sherpas who started from 6500m yesterday, reached C3 (7200m) this morning at 0700AM Nepal time and continued going up. They are carrying emergency equipment/medicine, water and bottled oxygen. The helicopter carrying more rescue climber has been halted at Pokara by rain. Flight shall resume once rain stops. (But from Sebastian's Facebook post, it appears that rescue team is still at Everest BC).
There has been no communication with Juanjo. Supposedly, they have turned off the phone to avoid drainage of limited battery.

Let's hope that Juanjo and Kheshap Sherpa (name of 'unknown' sherpa who has been helping Juanjo) are doing well, and the sherpas support team has reached their site.

Update-8 (25-5-13): 1250Hrs Nepal Time
It appears that Simone Moro has made a flight to 7500m on Dhaulagiri and saved one Indian climber who was lost above C3. Sebastian Alvaro updates about current situation.

The rescue team from Everest region is still at Everest BC. There is no helicopter in the region and flight from Pokhara has been delayed due to rain.

Simone Moro was at Dhaulagiri BC, who reduced the weight of helicopter to fly as high as possible. He managed to reach 7500m but couldn't see Juanjo or Sherpas from rescue team. Fortunately he was able to save another life, an Indian climber who was probably lost above C3. Another flight on the mountain is being planned depending upon weather conditions.

There hasn't been any communication with Juanjo, yet.

Update-9 (25-5-13): 1400Hrs Nepal Time
From latest update by Juanjo's home team, it appears that finally there has been some communication with Juanjo. Apparently they are well and seems like they did see the helicopter.

Update-10 (26-5-13): 0015Hrs Nepal Time
While it was expected that help would reach Juanjo Garra and Kheshap on 25th, but unfortunately it didn't. Juanjo's home team reports that three sherpas carrying emergency relief are still in C3. It's not known what caused them not to go higher. From previous report, it appeared that they were moving up in the direction two stranded climbers. Nonetheless the reality is, Juanjo and Kheshap Sherpa have to survive one more night in open.

Meanwhile Simone Moro transported Dominik Mueller to 6200m, who would go up and join rescue team. Dominik is the leader of AMICAL alpin Dhaulagiri Expedition,

Four strong climbers ready to join rescue team are stuck at Everest BC. They were unable to fly to Dhaulagiri, today. Hopefully, they would reach here tomorrow morning.

Climber rescued from approximately 7400m today, was Indian Dhaulagiri Expedition member Basanta Singha Roy. He was lost above C3 for two days.

Hard times but we must keep fingers crossed for safety of amazingly brave Kheshap Sherpa and resilient Juanjo Garra.

Day-4 26-05-13

Update-11 (26-5-13): 1330Hrs Nepal Time
Juanjo Garra's summit push companion Manuel Lolo Gonzalez has safely reached BC. He wasn't in good condition after summit push and spent two nights in C3. Yesterday he started descending and spent the night in C1. He reached BC this morning and is fine now.

Dominik Mueller, who went up from 6200m yesterday, has reached C3. He, along with three sherpas, is trying to locate Juanjo and Kheshap.

Also Alex Txikon's tweets published by his home team suggest that he along with Ferran Latorre and Jorge Egocheaga has reached Dhaulagiri BC. Today, Simone Moro would try making another flight to rescue Juanjo from ~7600m. If not successful, he would take the three rescuers as high as possible.

Update-12 (26-5-13): 1739Hrs Nepal Time
Base camp had contact with Juanjo and Kheshap. Both are alive!

Meanwhile helicopter has shifted Jorge Egocheaga and Mingma Sherpa to C3 and rescued SEVEN more climbers from there. It appears that Dominick Moller and one more sherpa assisted this rescue operation.

Alex Txikon and Ferran Latorre has also been dropped somewhere between 6000m~7200m. They will climb up and try to bring Kheshap and Juanjo to C3. Helicopter pilot thinks that they can be rescued from C3 area. (Helicopter evacuation might not be possible tonight as it's getting darker)

Further details are awaited.

Update-13 (26-5-13): 1915Hrs Nepal Time
It's confirmed that two sherpas reached Juanjo and Kheshap, reports Juanjo's home team. They provided the duo with food, water, medicine and artificial oxygen. Now they are trying to bring the climber back to C3. Helicopter rescue from C3 is expected tomorrow.

Moreover Jorge Egocheaga (who is also a medical doctor) and the sherpa are going up from C3.

Alex Txikon and Ferran Lattore are also on the way to C3.

Manuel Lolo Gonzalez has been shifted to Pokhara for further treatment. Lolo has been coordinating the rescue operation from the mountain, when Sebastian did the same from Istanbul.

I hope all climbers are taken out of the mountain, safe and well. Hopefully, success of this rescue operation becomes the highlight of spring 2013 climbing season. Keeping fingers crossed.

Update-14 (27-5-13): 0100Hrs Nepal Time
There hasn't been any contact with Juanjo, recently. Neither two sherpas who reached him yesterday nor Jorge Egocheaga are reachable on the phone, at the moment.

Alex Txikon and Ferran Latorre are cruising towards C3. Their progress can be followed on racetracker, who were just a little short of 7000m.

Simone Moro would try heli evacuation from C3 tomorrow morning, if rescuer managed to bring Juanjo to the camp. It's midnight in Nepal; let's hope that Monday proves to be the successful day of rescue operation completion.

Day-5 27-05-13

Update-15 (27-5-13): 0700Hrs Nepal Time
The news isn't what most of us have expected to see this morning. Juanjo's home team posted this message about an hour ago.

[Machine Translated] "Despite the efforts of many people and despite the strength you have done all, above all, despite heroic resistance that has Juanjo Garra, accompanied to the last breath by Kheshap Sherpa, the mountain has decided to stay for always with the company who both wanted.
Family and friends want to express a very special thanks to all those who in one way or another, participated in the rescue operation more spectacular than ever seen in the Himalaya. No fewer than eight persons have saved their lives thanks to the rescue operation mounted especially for Juanjo. This is a victory that we should aim in its balance sheet.
We also thank the many expressions of support and affection that we have received since the bad luck meant that, a simple broken ankle, could turn into the fatal outcome.
Juanjo on Thursday after returning from Dhaulagiri summit, the ninth win of a mountain higher than 8,000 meters. Slip a Sherpa dropped him shortly after starting the descent. The fall prevented him from walking and has retained too long in height he resisted like few others, because that he wanted to return to share with us the experience and spread those smiles that were never missing on his face ... never missing at the time to imagine his.."

My heartfelt condolences to the family of a resilient climber. Rest In Peace Juanjo Garra!

Update-16 (27-5-13): 1230Hrs Nepal Time
Sebastian Alvaro shares more details about Juanjo Garra’s death. As per his Facebook post, Juanjo died yesterday, right after receiving medication and oxygen from first two sherpas who reached him. His body incredibly resisted harsh conditions above 7600m for four days but eventually gave up. Kheshap Sherpa is alive and descending with others.

This night when Alex and Ferran reached the C3, they found Kheshap, three rescue sherpas, Jorge Egocheaga and Nigma/Mingma sherpa in the camp. The rescuers broke the sad news about Juanjo's death.

Let's hope that everyone else comes down to BC, safe and sound.
Post will be updated as further details arrive.

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