Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Looking HAPE in the FACE.. one scary hour

April 10, 2013' "All in a days work... our Sherpa team carried loads to Camp 1 and Camp 2 today. Everything is moving along to plan, by the time the camps are complete and ready for occupancy the climbers will also be ready to move pending weather. We don't want to put them up there in a storm, it's snowing right now at base camp lightly but we are expecting a good dump this coming weekend. 
Everyone did well with equipment briefing today and tomorrow we have more work to do on the ladders, ropes, jumars and so forth. Not much to say so I'll turn this over to Becky now.  Over and out .. Tim"

LOOKING HAPE IN THE FACE  "High Altitude Pulmonary Edema" The adjacent photo is of a good friend of ours, John Dyck from British Columbia. His wife Trish, my friend of over 30 years made contact with me last night via Skype. The two of them were headed up to base camp. John is a highly regarded climber back home, he was headed to climb Lobuche after base camp. They were not on a Peak Freak trip, they were doing this independently with the help of Ngima, our Ang Nima's son, their guide. 
I'm telling this story to show just how quickly someone can get into trouble up here. So far there have been two deaths of trekkers not known to us, John could have very well been a third. He reached Namche Bazaar and fell ill and was running a fever, nothing new here with GI bugs, colds and so on being passed around - so you just go to bed and hope for improvements come morning. 

Morning came and things quickly spiraled into a desperate situation of survival. This is when Trish Skyped me. I know this stuff, I've had HACE myself and I've seen HAPE. HACE effects the brain and HAPE the lungs. HAPE is by far the worst one to get in a remote location. You need oxygen, dex and to get down and out quickly. All of which we were able to organize within one hour of when she told me he was making a funny sound, like a cracking in chest, like a cold. 

"Oh hell, we have a problem". Ngima summoned the doctor in Namche, Tsedam grabbed the oxygen and the helicopter was fired up in Kathmandu within minutes. John's oxygen saturation dipped to 46%. He was losing consciousness and as Tim later puts it, "it sounds like he was definitely checking out".  

Had the weather not been good or the helicopter not been available, its quite possible we could have lost a good friend.  

I Just wanted to share that with everyone. John is super fit and an avid climber and for some reason his body said, "not today John". This can happen to anyone, accomplished climbers and high end athletes alike. Fitness doesn't clear the way for people coming here. You still have to be on your toes and listen to your body, if you can. John didn't have a chance to listen to his, that was left for other people at this stage to do it for him.  John had good resources to help and support him and we can't stress enough how important it is to make sure when you visit here that you know who you are associated with and that can you trust their actions should things go wrong. 
 More....  HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema)  HACE (High Altitude Cerbral Edema). 
Phew.... Becky   

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