American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Everest, the Rescue of Lincoln Hall

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Everest, the rescue of Lincoln Hall. At 7:30 a.m. on May 26 a team of four climbers comprising Andrew Brash from Canada, Myles Osborne from the UK, Jangbu Sherpa from Nepal, and I, an American living in Bristol, UK, were at 8,550m, about two hours from the summit of Everest via the North Ridge, when we rounded a corner at the “Mushroom Rock” and stumbled upon the Australian Lincoln Hall. He was sitting on the trail with his jacket around his waist, was wearing neither hat nor gloves, and was mumbling deliriously. He held his frostbitten fingers aloft like so many frozen, waxy, candlesticks. Our group found he was suffering from symptoms of cerebral edema, frostbite, hypothermia, and dehydration. He seemed generally incoherent in responses to offers of help and believed that he was on a boat ride. Apparently Hall had collapsed the previous day on his way down from the summit, and his commercially organized team, assuming he was dead, removed his oxygen, rucksack, and ice axe, taking it down the mountain.

We replaced the hat, jacket, and gloves that Hall had discarded, anchored him to the mountain, and gave him our own oxygen, food, and water. We then radioed his team and convinced the members that he was alive and must be saved. They took some persuading, which used valuable time, depleting our oxygen. Our team was small, compact, and lightweight with just one Sherpa. In contrast we discovered that Hall’s team had around 30 members and 20 Sherpas. It took several hours for the team to agree to send up some of its Sherpas to help with the evacuation. For four hours we stayed with Hall, not wanting to leave, as we were unsure whether we might have to carry him down. By the time the Sherpa team arrived and took over life support, it was too late for us to continue toward the summit. With another member of our expedition, Phil Crampton from the UK, coordinating our movements from his location at the 7,900m high camp, and Kipa Sherpa acting as liaison to Halls team at advanced base, we carried out the rescue. During the time we were trying to help Hall, several climbers passed by on their way to the summit. They declined to help in the rescue, saying they did not speak English. During the afternoon, as we worked our way down the mountain, we became engulfed by strong winds and a snowstorm.

Dan Mazur, AAC

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