KATMANDU, NEPAL - Words many were elated to hear from renowned climbing guide Dave Hahn: “We are ok. We are self-sufficient up here.”
Hahn, who`s known for having ascended Everest more than any other westerner, was in fact on the mountain when Saturday’s deadly earthquake struck Nepal. The resulting avalanches left over 200 climbers stranded at different stages of the climb.
In a message on RMI Expeditions' website, he said,”..resultant avalanches off of all the mountains around us. Our camp was in a good place. We got dusted...our concern is with our friends down at base camp.”
In 2006, Houstonian Robert Fickman ascended another mountain - Denali, attached to Hahn.
Fickman shares that Hahn, “…guides Everest, doesn`t just get himself to the top, he gets other people to the top. I`m pretty sure he got me to the top of Denali.”
Dave and his team had ascended higher than the worst of the avalanche that claimed the lives of 17, and injured 60. But the destruction at their backs left them stranded.
As Fickman described it, “It`s kinda like if you drove somewhere and you got to your destination and you wanted to go home, and you found out that the road that you used to get there had been wiped out. And that`s exactly what happened to the people on Everest.”
Courageous helicopter pilots braved high altitudes, with air nearly too thin to navigate, and saved the stranded climbers. Dave`s team is now safe at a bruised and beaten base camp at the bottom of Everest.
But for climbing enthusiasts, this doesn`t scare them into keeping their head out of the clouds. Fickman says, “If you`re a climber you understand there`s a lot of risk in climbing. And you respect the mountain, and what a mountain can do, the power of a mountain.”