American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Khumbu Himal, Lhotse, Rescue

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

Lhotse, rescue. A rather dramatic rescue of a British climber took place on Lhotse’s normal west face route. The Briton was 19-year-old Thomas Moores, who was part of an American-led commercially organized expedition. He had reached the summit on May 21 with a Polish climber, Dariusz Zaluski, who was on a different permit. On the descent, close to the base of the couloir, Zaluski saw Moores fall ca 150 meters from an altitude of 8300m

The principal rescuer was Simone Moro, an Italian with another Lhotse permit, who was in his tent at 7950m making preparations for his own summit bid during the next day or so (Moro with the Kazakhstan mountaineer, Denis Urubko, had a permit to link the summits of Everest and Lhotse via the unclimbed north ridge of Lhotse, a much talked about Himalayan objective). At 6 p.m. he heard Zaluski shout about Moores’s fall. Later, back in Kathmadu, Moro reported that when he heard Zaluski, he immediately left his tent to rescue the fallen Briton. He said no one in any of the other tents at that camp on Lhotse’s west face would join him because they said they would loose their chance at reaching the top. So Moro went up alone. He found Moores at 7 p.m., lying on his back in deep snow, which Moro feared could avalanche at any time. Moores’s face was bleeding and he had lost a crampon but had been given more oxygen by Zaluski.

Moro, who has considerable experience on Nepal’s great Himalayan peaks, is reported to have hoisted the teenager (who weighed no more than 50 kg) on to his back, though other reports suggest he attached him to his own ice axe, then kicked big steps in the snow to help Moores reach Camp 4, which was situated left of a rock formation on the west face of Lhotse known as The Turtle. Back at Moro’s tent, the Italian provided water and first aid, then the following morning organized more oxygen and arranged for a couple of Sherpas from a different expedition to escort Moores down towards the Western Cwm. That day an exhausted Moro realised that he had sacrificed his own summit bid.

Moores was the only member of his expedition to make a summit attempt. The leader, the American, Gary Pfisterer, said later in Kathmandu that he had instructed Moores to spend only one night at the high camp (which had been left behind by a Korean group when they left the mountain) and then to descend. However, the young Briton stayed on for another day and summited without the use of supplementary oxygen. He was later evacuated by helicopter to Kathmandu, where he was found to have internal injuries and was sent on to hospital in Bangkok.

Elizabeth Hawley

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