The story was poignant as it followed shortly after another set of events, where a large party of climbers on summit push left another mountaineer to die.
Image by Photo SeracFilms/Graphics by ExplorersWeb courtesy Explorersweb, SOURCE
Last image of Thomas Weber, below 3d step on summit day. Thomas was a guided climber who became blind on altitude and died suddenly. "Be truthful to yourself and the truth will prevail," he wrote on his website before the expedition. Image courtesy of Harry Kikstra and the 7summits/7summit-club expedition.
Lincoln arriving in C3. "Lincoln arrived an hour later, a bit tired but still happy. Soon after getting his tent ready, he came into my tent (I shared with Pasang, who was visiting Pemba and Thomas) and we discussed the oxygen systems, timings, the route and much more while passing my oxygen mask back and forth as it were a water-pipe." (Click to enlarge)
View over Makalu from Everest North side. "It was a bit eerie, when Pasang and I had left the tent, so quiet was it outside. I was used to the howling winds which kept us in the tent and in high camp an extra day last year, but now it was completely still outside, no wind!" (Click to enlarge)
Pemba climbing up the second step. "The ladder is not the problem of the 2nd step, it takes away the largest problem. The actual problem is getting to the ladder, or the bottom part of the 2nd step - to the side of the rocks, a huge drop and dead bodies below, sad results of lack of strength and experience." (Click to enlarge)
Thomas and Pemba at the bottom of the third step. "Thomas needed no assistance at all, though his vision by now had deteriorated to seeing rough shapes only, even when the sun was out. Suddenly Pemba and I noticed Thomas swaggering and walking towards the edge of the snowy hill after the 3rd step. We pulled the rope tight, so Thomas could not continue; he was on his way - about a meter from the edge - to walk right off the Kanchung face of Everest!" (Click to enlarge)
Sunset. "We both made our way up to the track where I do not know how long I just stared into empty space, trying to comprehend what just happened." (Click to enlarge)
Lincoln coming down the final snow slope. "Then Alex came on the radio again and mentioned that Lincoln was not feeling well and had trouble descending. I had still 2 Sherpas with me, so I sent Pemba - who was the strongest - up to help Lincolns; team, though at that time I did not know that it was that serious, but even if Alex had told me, it might have passed right through my current emotions." (Click to enlarge)
Thomas and Pemba close to the third step. "Andrey Selivanov had felt me coming as he came out of our warm mess tent and welcomed me. He told me that Lincoln had died. I was shocked. 2 people I got to know well perished within hours. I could not grasp it and Andrey gave me some herbal pills to make me sleep. But I could not. I hated this mountain, for causing harm to friends and family of the people I had to leave here. For luring me into making me feel so incredibly alive while climbing, while..
Everest BC, 4 am. Harry Kikstra: About Thomas

Posted: May 28, 2006 01:32 am EDT
"Becoming completely blind on ascent, at 8800 meters, only 50 meters below the summit, Thomas was turned back at 9.15 am by Harry and two Sherpas. 3 hours later, at 12:20 pm, Thomas had a collapse on the Second step (8700 m). He said, "I am dying" and lost consciousness. At 12:40 pm death was verified."

These simple words almost vanished in the account of the miraculous survival and rescue of Lincoln Hall on Mount Everest.
But who was Thomas? What had happened to him? Where did Harry go, and how did he feel?<cutoff>

At 4 am this morning, in a dark tent at 5200 meters on Everest, Harry pushed send and closed his computer. Here goes his report, about Thomas Weber, and the night he died.

<i>Following is the first draft of my story; my vision of the truth so to speak.. I will continue with Lincoln's part tomorrow as the generator is off and it is almost 0400 here and I do need some sleep after running down to ABC within 4 hours, Forgive spelling and typing mistakes, as far as I know the facts are true.</i>

Hi everybody,

Many of you have already read or listened to reports about the things that happened on Everest the past few days. To avoid confusion, miss-translation, mis-interpretation, speculation etc I would like to give my own first-hand account of what happened the past week on Everest.

Just as a reminder, some basics:

Thomas contacted me to see if I could set up and guide a small expedition that could help him, a disabled climber, to climb Everest. His disability was: since a removal of a brain tumor, he had noticed that his vision was deteriorating, whenever he got into a low pressure environment, whether it being a mountain (high altitude) or a test environment."

Due to several reasons I accepted this challenge and agreed with my colleague, partner and friend Alex Abramov to give up my co-leadership of our joint expedition (we each have 15 clients in this expedition). Instead I would lead a small expedition, consisting of Thomas, 2 personally selected Sherpa friends Pemba & Pasang and 2 climbing cameramen Milan Collin & Kevin Augello, who would be documenting the climb and everything surrounding it.

<b>One step at a time</b>

We started a dedicated site, www.SightOnEverest.com, so we could post updates, but also give attention to a very special charity, Cureblindness.org. We want to raise awareness and funds for them, nothing of the donated money would go to our climb or documentary, we financed those ourselves.

We did not know in advance how far Thoma's sight would deteriorate and therefore would not speak of a 'blind climber', something that some media found easy to communicate. The only blind climber that summited Everest (and the 7summits) is Erik Weihenmayer, a great man and a formidable accomplishment. We also agreed that we would see how far the combination of Thomas' experience, visual problems, and mental and physical strength would bring him during the 2 months on Everest, one step at a time.

<b>This is what happened from day to day</b>

Lincoln Hall was part of another sub-team, to get Christopher Harris (15 years) to the top, together with his father Richard and filmmaker Michael Dillon. Lincoln had already climbed (but not summited) Everest in 1984.

Our (the 7summits.com/7summits-club.com expedition) first team summited the 21st, the day we (team B) left for the higher regions of the mountain. This is what happened from day to day:

<b>May 21: ABC - NC</b>

Early in the morning I was up and rushed to the telescope to see the line of climbers going up the final snow slope. Our sirdar Minga was up the summit early, together with guide Sergey, as agreed, so they could control the timing of the other climbers in the team.

Alex and I had discussed the timings when we were in Tasch Dzom and had agreed that all climbers could not spend more than 10 hours ascending as this would mean at least another 5 hours getting down to high camp.

If climbers had ordered extra oxygen, they could use it to climb on a higher flow, but the time limit would be the same. Of course if someone would be 20 meters from the summit, then we would let them climb on, but in general the guides at the summit, would 'clear' the mountain, so that everybody would be safe down.

You know the summiteers list, in total 16 people from our expedition summited that morning and all got back to 7700m camp, a great accomplishment.

<b>"You should always fear the mountain"</b>

In ABC we were surprised by a visit of Simone Moro, one of the world's top climbers, who just traversed Everest but looked as he just came back from a week in Thailand. Still he remarked (we interviewed him for our documentary) that Everest should never be underestimated, you should always be afraid of the mountain, no matter if you summited before...

We left for North Col after posting some hasty reports of the Team A summits and together with the Australians we took off for the glacier. Richard, who had been coughing still, had gone ahead and would wait at the glacier entrance for his team. Pemba, Pasang, Thomas, Milan and I walked quickly and easily towards that point, when Lincoln passed us without his backpack. He told us that Chris had breathing trouble and that he was going to get Richard to discuss what to do. In the end they decided to stay in ABC, at least that day and decide on further actions the next morning.

Meanwhile we climbed up. I was feeling great and photographed and filmed a lot that day, while the rest slowly but steady came up through a light snow. Still we arrived less than 5 hours after leaving ABC, so that was ok. Alex arrived later that day, after making sure that Team A had come down ok. We (unfortunately not Milan, he was not going higher) slept on oxygen that night, both to safe strength as well as to test the masks and regulators.

<b>May 22: North Col - Igor</b>

The next morning we awoke fresh, and welcomed new 7summiteers Kirk and Henrik amongst others (see picture with fellow summiteers Alex and me). But soon there was panic in the camp about Igor Pkysuhkin, who was still at camp 2. He was in bad shape, though he was conscious and had talked on the radio and had drunk tea and taken oxygen, he was very weak while being in a tent at about 7800m.

As our Sherpas were fresh and strong, we would let them climb up and let them assist if needed, but it was not clear if it was needed. Then suddenly Igor just stopped breathing and all the care of the guides could not revive him.

This left us devastated and I discussed with Alex if we should abort the rest of the summit attempts. We agreed that the clients could decide, so I asked Thomas. He would like to continue. It was already quite late by then so we decided to stay one more night at North Col.

The Australians had decided not to let Christpher climb as his condition had repeated itself, so only Lincoln would come up, accompanied by the team's Sherpas. I talked to Lincoln and told him that if he came up today, he would be able to climb with us, which would be safer and more fun. He agreed and came up that same night and we had more interesting discussions until late at night in our NC mess tent.

<b>May 23: NC - 7700m, A perfect sunset over Cho Oyu</b>

Another great weather day and we went quickly to '77camp'. Thomas was doing well, and enjoying the climb over the snow. I felt strong and did a lot of filming, together with co-cameraman Pemba. Only Pasang was not doing well, he coughed a lot and arrived an hour later after us in camp.

The route was in great shape and it was relatively easy going. I interviewed Thomas and Pemba in their tent; they were both happy with the day and felt good. Lincoln, who had left a bit later and had climbed half the way without oxygen arrived soon after us and slept in the top tents with his Sherpas. A perfect sunset over Cho Oyu completed a nice day of climbing.

<b>May 24: 7700m- 8300m, part of the fixed lines was missing</b>

Again the weather was more or less great and we left at about 10.30 that day. On our way to the traverse we passed Igor Plyuskin's fresh grave, which made a big impression on me, as strong reminder of the dangers of Everest and high altitude, no matter how good the weather.

A part of the fixed lines was missing, but nowhere was it steep enough to become dangerous and we continued towards the final snow slopes and arrived in camp 3, 8300m within 5 hours, which is very good timing at that altitude.

I interviewed Thomas upon arrival and he mentioned that he felt good and that he was looking forward to finalizing the last part of the 'pyramid we had been building as a team the past months. He wanted to inspire people with a handicap and was confident about a successful summit day.

<b>It was exactly midnight, 25th of May had just begun</b>

Lincoln arrived an hour later, a bit tired but still happy. Soon after getting his tent ready, he came into my tent (I shared with Pasang, who was visiting Pemba and Thomas) and we discussed the oxygen systems, timings, the route and much more while passing my oxygen mask back and forth as it were a water-pipe.

Though Lincoln is my senior in climbing years, he is never afraid to ask about climbing aspects he does not know about, which makes him a great person. (That and the fact that we share a sick sense of language-jokes humor).

I told Thomas and Pemba and Lincoln to get awake and ready at 22.30, so we could leave an hour later. I did not sleep myself, but rested, called Romke to let him know that all was well and that I was feeling strong. As expected only Pasang and I were actually ready to go at the agreed time and before we actually took off, it was exactly midnight, 25th of May had just begun.

<b>May 25: Summit day</b>

It was a bit eerie, when Pasang and I had left the tent, so quiet was it outside. I was used to the howling winds which kept us in the tent and in high camp an extra day last year, but now it was completely still outside, no wind! I only wore my light TNF wind stopper gloves and had no problem with hands getting cold. I noticed that Lincoln was ready to go as well and I took the lead, followed by Pemba, Thomas, Pasang and Lincoln with his Sherpas. It was pitch dark, there was no moon and a bit of a hazy cloud below us, blocking some of the reflection of the snowy mountains.

Though we had enough oxygen to use 3 liters per minute constantly, I put our regulators on 2.5 l/m, just to be safe. We climbed steadily up through the snow gullies of the exit cracks and arrived at the summit ridge exactly 2 hours later, at 02.00. I was shocked to see that Thomas and I had used up 3/5ths of our first bottle in 2 hours, which meant over 4 l/minute! No wonder it went too easy, with the Sherpas breathing hard to catch up. I lowered the flow we continued along the ridge.

<b>David Sharp and Green Boots</b>

Soon we were shocked to see 2 legs lying on the trail, brand-new Millet boots - the same most climbers including us were wearing. It was the body of David Sharp, much talked about in the past days, by people both knowledgeable as well as people who have never been on a mountain. The realization that he was one of the new dead bodies came quick as I knew I was the first one of the climbers up this night.

Right next to David's body lay 'Green Boots', an Indian climber who died years ago, but still is there in his fetal position, with his green plastic boots directed at the trail. Somehow seeing these 2 dead climbers hit me much harder than a year before, when my mind was definitely less clear...

<b>Thomas ascended without any assistance</b>

The trail itself was wonderful, the snow from the past weeks made the going so much more easily than previous years. All the narrow, down sloping rock ledges were covered, and besides one small slip from Thomas, we found it very easy going.

That is, until you reach the 1st step! An upgraded climbing joke at sea level, it needs still quite a lot of effort at 8600m... But we went up quickly and Thomas ascended without any assistance. We rested a bit and slowly continued on the curving ledges, while Lincoln and his Sherpas had passed, just before the treacherous part leading up to the infamous 2nd step.

The section just before it has some rock ledges, where you need to down- and up-step a few times. Nothing too serious, but in a pitch dark night it can be quite unnerving to step even a little down into the dark, onto scratched ledges leading to nowhere.

<b>Huge drop to the side of the rocks</b>

Meanwhile Lincoln had started the tough ascent of the 2nd step with his Sherpas; we could see their headlamps slowly curling up the dark rock face, just ahead of us. As the climbers know, but many news sources get wrong: the ladder is not the problem of the 2nd step, it takes away the largest problem. The actual problem is getting to the ladder, or the bottom part of the 2nd step. The advantage of it still being totally dark was that we could not see the huge drop to the side of the rocks, nor the dead bodies below, sad results of lack of strength and experience.

I went first, pulled Thomas through the difficult sections, while Pemba pushed from below. Thomas still needed to take a considerable effort, but for once his long legs were an advantage.

Once we reached the ladder, we were out of the step in no time and walked a bit further until we found a resting spot. The wind had picked up a bit, but enough to chill you to the bone, and the warmer BD guide gloves were working hard to keep my fingers warm, while we drank tea to recover from the efforts of the 2nd step.

Meanwhile it was after 06.00 and the sun finally came peaking above the blanket of clouds covering Tibet and Nepal. Ahead we saw that Lincoln and his team were already at the 3rd step and they rested soon after.

<b>Thomas vision by now had deteriorated to seeing rough shapes only</b>

After our rest I checked if everybody was ok and we continued slowly along the easy track towards the 3rd step, the easiest of the 3 rock obstacles to the summit. With the fresh snow, it was hardly a rock step at all, more a collections of rocks on a snow slope and Thomas needed no assistance at all, though his vision by now had deteriorated to seeing rough shapes only, even when the sun was out.

Suddenly Pemba and I noticed Thomas swaggering and walking towards the edge of the snowy hill after the 3rd step. We pulled the rope tight, so Thomas could not continue; he was on his way - about a meter from the edge - to walk right off the Kanchung face of Everest!

<b>Marko on the final snow triangle</b>

We went to him to check was going on, and noticed a hole in the side of his oxygen mask, in the part at the bottom, where the actual oxygen comes in. Pemba immediately gave Thomas his own mask and Thomas became clear within seconds again. We rested and noticed that we were still making good time, even though after the efforts of the 2nd step we had slowed down a bit. It was not even 0800 and we were starting on the final snow triangle, normally it was less than 2 hours from here, so we would be within our fixed time limits.

We slowly went up, while enjoying the sun lighting the sides of Makalu and numerous other peaks in Tibet and Nepal. We passed Marko, our team member from last year, who died after summiting on the first day of the very bad season. He was still in the same position, forever frozen to the mountain he climbed.

<b>I asked him what he could still see and he said 'nothing'</b>

I actually got warm on the snow slope and we slowed down a bit. But just before we reached the rock traverse leading up to the summit ridge I noticed that Thomas was stepping off the well-defined trail.

I asked him what he could still see and he said 'nothing'. This was the basis of the expedition, so it did not came as a surprise and with 3 guides we could lead him towards the last 50 vertical meters to the summit. So while it was not useful, it was not unexpected.

But what was unexpected that Thomas was also suddenly totally exhausted and unbalanced, when just moments before he was going up the quite steep slopes unassisted and steady.

And worse, he did not listen to any directions Pemba and I gave him, even though they were simple, like 'stay on the track, do not move, we will take your carabineer' etc. I looked at Pemba and decided that under these conditions it would be too dangerous to continue onto the rocky and very airy traverse as well as to the final exposed snow slope.

<b>His body language convinced me more than his words</b>

Too dangerous for Thomas, but also for his team and the many other climbers that were passing us at that time, mostly from Scott Woolums/Jamie McGuinness' team, led by Scott. I am sure we could have taken Thomas all the way to the summit, where Lincoln by now was waiting, but I was not sure if we could have made it down again.

I did ask Thomas and he was actually quite clear again, said he felt better, that without goggles he could see more and that he thought we could continue as it was only such a short distance, but his body language convinced me more than his words.

So, about 50 vertical meters below the summit, something that would have taken between 20-40 minutes to climb I made the decision to turn our team back.

<b>Everest has a way of luring you into the last part and then trapping you forever </b>

I learned a lot from last year, and had promised many people that I would even turn back 5 meters from the summit if something was not right. Everest has a way of luring you into the last part and then trapping you forever and I was not going to get Thomas trapped. The mountain would still be there and we had already accomplished more than many people would have believed possible. We turned around at about 0900 and I called down to ABC to let Alex and the team knew about my decision.

Pemba and I short-roped Thomas from both sides down the steep snow and had to stop many times as Thomas was getting exhausted, something you see so many times with people descending, summit or not.

Though Thomas had been strong the past 4 days, now he seemed to be back in the slow rhythm he had shown at lower altitude. But then he could normally go on at a slow pace for a long time, so as long as he kept moving regularly, I could see him getting down to a good altitude without too much problems.

We had already agreed beforehand, that with or without summit, when we would go down, we would go down at least to 7700m, but preferably lower, even if it meant walking at night.

<b>Behind us we could see Lincoln and his Sherpas slowly make their way down</b>

But it was still early in the day and though we were descending slowly, we were going steady. Thomas could step down the 3rd step by just following my directions, at the bottom we stopped for a rest and some water. I walked ahead to the 2nd step to decide on the best way to help Thomas down, now we could see the passage in clear daylight. Pemba and Pasang were leading Thomas slowly towards the treacherous precipice, while behind us we could see Lincoln and his Sherpas slowly but surely make their way down the snow triangle.

Though it is mostly mental, one of the hardest parts of descending the 2nd step is getting back onto the ladder. When climbing up, you simply grab a bunch of old ropes, step on some crumbly rock and exit the rock, but the other way around is much, much harder.

But this was exactly why I had brought a thin 30m rope. I fixed it to some anchors, tested the strength and length and abseiled down the top part of the step, so I could easily step onto the ladder from the side.

As agreed, Pemba clipped Thomas in with his figure-of-8 and while I was keeping the rope tight while standing on the ladder, Thomas slowly abseiled down.

<b>Unfortunately the fixed rope is not that fixed at all</b>

The advantage of having someone at the bottom is, that even when the person abseiling gets hit by a rock, and loses grip, the bottom person can still control the speed of descent and even stop it. But Thomas came down all right on most of his own power and stepped onto the ladder above me and I brought him down and secured him to the fixed rope while Pemba organized the lowering of the heavy Sherpa-packs.

I showed Thomas which steps to make, so to avoid getting tangled in to the spaghetti of old ropes curled across the rocks. I told him which ropes to use while stepping down and which rope to take to do the last abseil to the bottom of the step. Pemba helped him with the abseil while I went a few meters ahead to secure his passage past a short but nasty section: there is a small rock that is overhanging over the narrow track, so that you must lean over the abyss and work your body around to stay balanced and not fall down there.

Unfortunately the fixed rope is not that fixed at all at that spot, at least, it is not tight, so holding on to the rope does not help. Especially when carrying a camera or anything on the front of your pack will get you off-balance.

<b>Thomas seemed to panic</b>

So I - after having trouble to pass myself, had to take my gloves off to get enough grip on the rocks to pass - went ahead and stopped right after the rock, holding the rope tight so Thomas could just follow it without losing his balance.

We had been going for 3 hours since turning around and I was happy that we had finished the most dangerous and tricky sections by now as he just came abseiling down the bottom part of the step.

Pemba helped him all the way, but could not prevent that Thomas got stuck in the ropes at the bottom with his crampons. Thomas seemed to panic and would not hold still, so Pemba had to cut the old ropes loose.

When Thomas finally stopped agitating and seemed to relax, I asked Pemba to check his oxygen as to my calculations it should have nearly been finished by now. Pemba agreed and said that only 10 bar was left, enough for 15 minutes only. Thomas was standing on a good spot, so I told him that Pemba would replace his bottle now and that he should not move.

<b>He closed his eyes and collapsed on the spot</b>

But just after Pemba took the bottle out of Thomas' bag, Thomas - standing about 4 meters away - looked at me in utter panic and after a few moments said right to my face: 'I am dying'.

Before I could answer or say anything he closed his eyes and collapsed on the spot and started sliding downwards. As he was already attached to the rope I was holding tight for him, he slid towards me, but also towards the abyss.

I managed to grab his down suit, but could not prevent his 90+ kilos from sliding downwards as I was barely in balance on the slope myself. I asked Pemba to help, but he looked at me and said: 'Thomas is dead' as it had been a well established fact...

I slowly released the tension on the rope, so I could leave my spot and slowly worked my way to the place where Thomas had come to a stop, a few meters down from the track, on a steep slippery slope. I contacted Alex on the radio and he asked if I could give CPR (heart massage), but Thomas was upside down in 2 ways and though I tried I could not get him upright, as I was almost sliding down the face myself and had no hold or grip and was only attached to the same rope.

<b>Scott Woolums from DXCP team came towards me and offered his help</b>

Meanwhile I could see his face was in a patch of snow, so even if he was still alive - which I doubted at that moment - he could not breathe. Scott Woolums, the lead guide from the DXCP team came towards me and offered his help (thanks again, Scott, you are great). Together we fixed a mini-rig to Thomas' pack and together we could pull him upright, while I moved his feet down, so we could see and touch his ash-grey face.

Just this action took us many minutes and we both had to stop a few times to get more oxygen, as it totally wore us out. Scott and I looked for signs of life like a pulse, breath, reaction of pupils, but could only determine that Thomas had gone, likely from the moment he collapsed, by then maybe already 10-15 minutes ago, time is moving fast up there.

We both made our way up to the track where I do not know how long I just stared into empty space, trying to comprehend what just happened.

<b>A hemorrhage or stroke, maybe</b>

Then Alex came on the radio again and mentioned that Lincoln was not feeling well and had trouble descending. I had still 2 Sherpas with me, so I sent Pemba - who was the strongest - up to help Lincolns' team, though at that time I did not know that it was that serious, but even if Alex had told me, it might have passed right through my current emotions.

Thomas must have had a hemorrhage or stroke, maybe caused by an oncoming cerebral edema, but the latter could never have caused such a sudden collapse, right after he got down the 2nd step mostly on his own power. Alex mentioned that photos were needed, so I climbed back down to the body that was still hanging in the rope and took some. I never have been more appalled at taking photos than at that moment.

<b>I told him I wanted to get off this damned mountain</b>

I climbed back up and sat down next to Pasang, who seemed more tired than surprised. People on the radio told me to get down as soon as possible so I would be safe at least and as in a dream I slowly stepped down the tracks. Pasang stopped many times and when we reached the crossing where the descent to Camp 3 started I told him I would go ahead.

I went straight to camp where I rested in the tent, thinking about what happened, sucking oxygen and waiting for Pasang. When he arrived, we made some water and I told him that I wanted to go down to North Col, maybe even ABC as I wanted to get off this damned mountain where so many people remain, people I shared laughter, food and water with. Pasang said he would come in a few minutes, so I went ahead and descended to camp 7700m in about one hour, while it started snowing.

<b>Every rock looked like a corpse</b>

I waited in camp for an hour, got my stuff I had left there and decided that I should go down ASAP and started the dreamlike descent towards North Col, in a snowy white-out. Every rock looked like a corpse and I heard voices mumbling strange sounds that I could not understand.

I was glad when I reached North Col, where my friend Doctor Andrey Selivanov had felt me coming as he came out of our warm mess tent and welcomed me. He told me that Lincoln had died. I was shocked. 2 people I got to know well perished within hours. I could not grasp it and Andrey gave me some herbal pills to make me sleep. But I could not. I hated this mountain, for causing harm to friends and family of the people I had to leave here. For luring me into making me feel so incredibly alive while climbing, while secretly stealing the lives of others as if it were a trade-off...

Warm regards and all the best to the friends and family of Thomas,

Harry

<i>Russian Alex Abramov and Dutch Harry Kikstra joined forces again this year. Guides included climbers such as Igor Svergun, 6 8000ers summiteer.

The team set up a full-service North Col Base camp with kitchen tent, dining tent, kitchen staff, altitude doctor Andrey Selivanov, radio station, electricity, and 2 web-cameras in BC and ABC. Together they assembled one of the largest Everest teams of the last few years: A total of 30 clients were catered to by a staff of 43 people, climbing on Everest North Col route.

Abramov offered a full service trip, but requested his clients be self-sufficient and well trained.

Harry Kikstra and two Sherpas climbed as special guides for Thomas Weber. Thomas had climbed Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Denali and 5 of the 7 Snow Leopard peaks in the Pamir Mountains.

Last year, the outfit lost one of its strongest climbers, Marko Lihteneker from Slovenia, who died high on the mountain in bad weather due to problems with his oxyen.

This year, the team lost Russian Snow Leopard Igor Plyushkin, 54, on May 22. Igor complained that he didn't feel well at 7800 meters. Guides administered supplementary oxygen and adrenaline shots in a struggle for his life that lasted 1,5 hours. Igor died at 1.45 pm local time due to AMS.

May 25, Thomas Weber, 41, and Lincoln Hall, 50, collapsed within a few hours of each other at around the same altitude, but Lincoln was later miracuously saved by the expedition and other climbers on the mountain.</i>
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