KATMANDU, Nepal – An American climber said he fell into a crevasse on a Himalayan mountain in Nepal but managed to crawl to his tent despite broken ribs and an arm before being rescued the next morning.
John All of Western Kentucky University said Thursday he thought he was going to die after falling some 70 feet into the crevasse with no hope of rescue.
It took him six hours to crawl out of the hole and another three hours to reach his tent and spent the night in pain before rescuers reached him the next morning, he said in an interview in a Katmandu hotel where he is recovering.
All and his research team had moved to Mount Himlung in north central Nepal because the Mount Everest area was closed last month after the death of 16 Sherpa guides in an avalanche. One of those Sherpa guides was from All's team. They were planning to climb Mount Lhotse, a sister peak of Everest. Climbers attempting to scale both the peaks share much of the route.
"I thought I was going to die, there was no way out. I was alone," All said describing his first thoughts after falling into the crevasse on Monday. "I landed on an ice ledge probably 3 feet wide which saved me from falling further into the crevasse."
He broke five ribs and an arm, dislocated his shoulders, suffered internal bleeding and bruised his face and knees.
He crawled out of the hole using his ice axe but because of his broken ribs and right arm he could only move very slowly. His teammates were in lower camps and would take two days to get to him.
Once he got out of the crevasse, he did not have a radio to call for help so he struggled his way back to the tent and barely made it inside. He texted for help on his satellite messenger. His friends responded and arranged for a helicopter rescue.
"Because of bad weather the helicopter could not reach me on that day, so I knew I had to spend the night by myself," he said adding the he spent hours bleeding and shivering. He suffered from frostbitten fingers.
The rescue helicopter landed in a flat area near the camp at the altitude of some 19,600 feet Tuesday. The pilot and another rescuer dragged the 240-pounds, 6-feet 5-inches-tall All to the helicopter on a sleeping pad and flew him to a hospital in Katmandu where he spent the night in intensive care. He said he checked out the next day despite protest from doctors who wanted to keep him for a week.
All, from Bowling Green, Kentucky, plans to stay at his hotel in Katmandu for a couple of weeks to recover before heading to Peru next month for another climbing trip. He is an experienced climber who scaled Mount Everest in 2010. An associate professor of geography at WKU, All and his team were collecting ice and snow samples to study the level of pollution and rate of glaciers melting.