Update on Lhotse accident - with Martin's corrections

Posted: May 16, 2006 12:58 am EDT

May 5, Pavel Kalny and Martin Minarik left Everest BC for Lhotse, hoping to set Camp 4 at the bottom of the Messner Couloir. 5 days later, Sherpas heading to Everest South Col found Pavel in the snow on the Lhotse face below the Yellow Band, at around 7800 meters. Pavel was reportedly barely alive and had severe frostbite after spending the night out in the open.

The Sherpas quickly administered oxygen to the Czech climber, and moved him to the fixed line where they were joined by a doctor from the Lhotse Chilean team. Together, the climbers proceeded to carry Pavel down to the tents at camp 3, but by the time they got him there, Pavel was pronounced dead by the doctor.

A fall

Martin Minarik is a seasoned Himalayan climber, while Lhotse was Pavel's first climbing experience at 8000m. The Polish Falvit expedition, currently on Everest summit push, have published on their website more details on what happened the day of the accident.

According to a translation of the report, the two climbers had not reached the summit and were descending together on May 9. Kalny suddenly fell about 200 meters but he was "good" and continued to climb down.

Martin climbed ahead for the tent at C3 (7200 meters) to prepare food and melt water for them both. They agreed that Kalny would follow in a slow pace. After a while in camp Martin realized that Pavel was missing. As night fell, Martin asked Sherpas and the Chilean Doctor to look for Pavel in the morning.

According to other reports from the mountain, the rescue team found Pavel still alive the next day, but couldn't save him. He perished at 1 pm Nepal time on May 10, just above camp 3. It's not clear if the climber died of injuries from the fall, exposure - or both.

Martin: First hand report next week to get correct info out

The Polish expedition BC was close to the Czechs, who visited the Poles almost daily to charge batteries and send e-mails. The Polish doctor Mrs. Jonetzko treated Martin's frostbite after he returned to BC.

Shortly after this story was published, Martin Minarik contacted ExplorersWeb stating that information in the various reports and dispatches is not entirely correct.

Martin says he will compile his first hand report about the accident next week for ExWeb, but wants to add that the Chilean doctor had asked him to remain in camp 3, due to his state of shock in having lost his friend of 17 years. With his radio batteries low on power, Martin climbed down to Camp 2 the next day (May 11), borrowed a sat phone from an expedition, and called Pavel's family.

Check also Martin's official website for his final dispatch (currently only in Czech).


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Image of Martin Minarik in Everest BC, hugging Martyna with the words "be careful" before she set off on her summit push Saturday (May 13). Image courtesy of Mounteverest.pl (click to enlarge).
Image of Pavel Kalny (left) and Martin Minarik in Everest BC before their Lhotse summit push, courtesy of the expedition's website (click to enlarge).