Everest, three alpinists die on black Saturday
On Saturday 19 May 2012 three alpinists - a German, a Canadian and a Korean - lost their lives on the South Face of Everest, in part due to a sudden storm. Another two alpinists are reported missing, while other alpinists in difficulty were rescued by helicopter from Camp 2. The first successful summit bids were carried out on Friday and included the talented Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck.
Three alpinists dies last Saturday on the South Face of Everest while another two, possibly Sherpa, are reported missing according to, amongst others, an LaPresse/AP news report today. Nepalese Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha stated that the dead climbers are 61-year-old German doctor Eberhard Schaaf, Nepal-born Canadian Shriya Shah and Korean alpinist Song Won-Bin who, according to Ang Tshering Sherpa of Asian Trekking Adventure, perished at the "The Balcony" just beneath the 8850m high summit.
The three were caught in a storm which raged on Everest Saturday afternoon but there are also reports of altitude sickness (for the German mountaineer) and exhaustion for the others. Simone Moro, the Italian mountaineer who is currently at Everest, reported that some alpinists had fallen behind schedule on their way to the summit that day. As all know, the clearness of mind for abandoning an attempt when the "ascent times" aren't being respected is one of the most important "rules" at altitude. In any case Moro played a key role in some helicopter rescues from Camp 2 which resulted in the evacuation of numerous mountaineers in difficulty. At least 6 people suffering from various degrees of frostbite...
Prior to this "black Saturday", Friday 18 May witnessed the the successful Everest summit of Ueli Steck. The talented Siwss alpinist, known above all for his extremely fast ascents in the Alps and Himalaya, reached the top of the world's highest mountain together with Sherpa Tenzing. The duo had set off from Base Camp on the Nepalese side last Wednesday and, after two nights spent on the mountain including one on the South Col, completed their ascent to the the 8850m high roof of the world. Steck had previously attempted Everest two years ago but had turned back just short of the summit due to frostbite on his feet. This is yet another demonstration of how, at those altitudes, knowing when to abandon an attempt does nothing to diminish the valour of an alpinist, on the the contrary, in many cases this can even save lives.