Cho Oyu update - SummitClimb on Miha's accident

Posted: Oct 08, 2008 04:17 pm EDT

( For the record, Gavin Turner offers the following debrief about the recent Cho Oyu fatal accident:

"I have just returned to Kathmandu after climbing Cho Oyu with Summit Climb. After leaving Camp 3 at 4am, I reached the summit at about 9.30am on Friday October 3rd, in the second of Summit Climb's summit parties."

"I want to comment on the death of Miha Valic. We were on exactly the same schedule as Miha and his two Slovenian climbers all the way from Kodari. In Nyalam they stayed at the Rat Hotel with us. At ABC he helped us out one evening with sleeping bags and mats when our yaks were detained at IBC on our way up to ABC. In terms of other teams on the mountain, we were most closely involved with the Slovenians and a small Italian team. It was a tragedy to hear of Miha's death."

"We were in our dining tent on Saturday the 4th discussing the tragic loss of Guy from the FTA team, when news came of a climber injured after passing out and then falling on the rappel above camp 1. Initially reports were that it was a porter, but it was soon confirmed that it was Miha. I had passed him on the way down from the summit at about 10.30am. He was on his way up and was by himself at the time."

"He seemed fine, but I was surprised that he was wearing his soft-shell pants on what was a chilly morning at 26,000 feet. He reportedly made the summit and returned to C2 that night. I returned to ABC that night by about 10.30pm. Reports are that Miha awoke from C2 with HAPE, but was moving okay and continued his descent."

"On the descent from C2, a couple of climbers - who I later spoke with at ABC - were behind Miha as he rappelled over the final ice cliff above C1. What exactly happened now is unclear but it seems as though he passed out and then fell down the fixed line (this was seen by the aforementioned climbers), hitting his head at the bottom of the fixed line. The two climbers performed CPR for sometime, but there efforts were to no avail. Miha passed away on the afternoon of Saturday, October 4th."

"This was a very sad and unexpected loss. Miha was a generous person and his sudden death was a tragedy."

"It was a difficult season on Cho Oyu. Extreme, hurricane force winds in mid-October at C1 resulted in dozens of tents being lost. Climbers have returned to Kathmandu with frostbitten toes and cerebral complications and the deaths of Guy and Miha within 2 days reminded many that there is no such thing as an easy 8000'er."

It is now confirmed that Guy Leveille has perished on the descent, reported FTA's HQ in Australia this past weekend. Guy and Stu Remensnyder, the team leader and head guide, were involved in what sounds to have been an epic descent after Stu summitted and then turned Guy around just 60m from the top at 3:45pm on Saturday."

"They were then caught up above 7500m for nearly 40 hours. Guy had weakened considerably during the long climb down, and at an as yet unknown point fell and slid away from Stu. Stu has then managed to stumble back into high camp alone and seemingly only just making it himself. It is also now confirmed that all members have returned safely to BC.

There were several dramas unfolding high on the hill during Friday and Saturday nights, involving multiple teams including that of the SummitClimb group, Dave Hancock added. Another climber had to be resuscitated with CPR after collapsing, and other climbers who resulted injured in long and dangerous falls have been evacuated.

The following Field Touring team members reached the summit: Lahkpa Sherpa (Nepal), Stu Remensnyder (USA), Italo Mazza (Italy), Rob Baker (Australia), Ryan Castel (Australia), Justin Moody (UK), and Guy Higgot (Canada).

IMGs Team 2s summiteers are climbers Karel, Nate, Chris, Louis, Ted and Paul; guides Mike Hamill and Greg Vernovage; and Sherpas Mingma Dorje, Karma Rita, Chhewang Lendu, Dasona, Phunuru, Tashi Tshering and Tseten Gyurme.

SummitClimb team leader Dan Mazur latest dispatched on Saturday. Four of our team members just reached the summit: Kurt Blair, Max Kausch, Erik Petersen, and Pasang Sherpa, Dan wrote. Apparently some climbers from another team fell from around 7600 metres on Cho Oyu on 2 or 3 October - we just wanted to extend our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues."


Slovenian Miha Valic was lost on Cho Oyu. File image of 30 years-old Miha courtesy of his website. <br><br><br><br>