Everest oxygen failure accidents avoided
During an Everest summit bid members of a commercial expedition had to descend rapidly from circa 8500 meters when they experienced oxygen bottle regulator failures.
Drama on the the highest slopes of Everest this morning where, during a summit bid on the Tibetan side of the mountain, a group of mountaineers belonging to the Alpenglow expedition led by America’s Adrian Ballinger encountered serious issues with their supplementary oxygen regulators.
According to alpinist and mountain chronicler Alan Arnette, who year is following the events on the highest mountain on in the world this year for the US magazine Outside Online, at an altitude of 8500 meters 10 of the 39 regulators used by clients and Sherpa suddenly stopped working. Without the regular flow of oxygen and close to the famous Second Step, the climbers had no other choice but to descend rapidly. During the descent another 4 regulators failed but at 9 am all members were already at or below 7700 m.This is, as Arnette underline, an extremely rare occurrence which fortunately had no further consequences.
For the benefit of those who do not know, it’s worth noting that a malfunction between the bottle and mask and ensuing sudden lack of O2 can be extremely dangerous for those who are not acclimatised to those altitudes without supplemental oxygen.
The problems occurred during what is being described as the third "summit wave” of climbers pushing towards the summit in this pre-monsoon season, after the ropes were fixed from both the Nepalese and Tibetan sides of the mountain.
Of those who reached the top of the mountain this season, it’s worth mentioning Kami Rita Sherpa who has summited for a record 22 time. Ani Lhakpa Sherpa summited from the North and the 44-year-old has now set a new female record, beating the record she set a year ago.
Ani Lhakpa Sherpa from the north side. For the 44 year-old Lhakpa is the ninth time on the highest point of the earth, a female record that beats the record set by herself a year ago.
As day broke, we were two teams - one at 28,000 feet; the other at 28,500 feet. Our night had been perfect - still, warm, and with all 25 of our guides, Sherpa and members looking strong and confident. And then it happened - we experienced a systemic failure of our oxygen systems. Within an hour, almost 50% of our regulators had failed. And that's when Everest demanded everything we had. Climbers buddy-breathed with guides; our strongest Sherpa (those that still had functioning oxygen) handed off their oxygen systems to members and descended without; and everyone without question gave up on a summit to ensure our team got down alive. It's not the experience I wanted to have today. But I am so proud of our team. Thank you to Sherpa, members, guides and BC staff. You did it all right today. #Everest2018 #everestnofilter #Everest