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Everest Journal 2005.  #9

Kathmandu Guest House. 

April 21, 2005

By: Mike Swarbrick

My Nephew, Chris and I flew out of basecamp at 7 am. yesterday morning with Ben and Shaunna on a big Russian M-17 chopper. It was a bit of an ordeal getting Ben from the HRA (Himalayan Rescue Aassociation) tent to the newly flattened landing pad of rocks. Our Sherpa staff re-levelled the rocky pad the night before. I really wanted to help them but as it was, I was up untill 1:00 am. this night preparing photo's, new's releases and transmitting the video pieces Ben and I shot before and after the accident. Six of us carried the stretcher to the pad but at times there was only room for two in between the rocks en route.  He was in a lot of pain but stood up to it well.  He's always telling me that I'm tougher than a $2 steak. Well, If that's true, he's tougher than Yak horns.

 It took many Sherpa's about five hours to carry him down through the icefall on the 19th., over crevasses spanned by ladders and down very steep broken icy slopes with that broken leg flopping about. Later, in the H.R.A. he told Shaunna "It's just a broken leg. No big deal, It happens to people on the ski hills all the time" Well, last night I viewed the x-rays and I assure you  he was dealing with excruciating pain every step of the way. The break on the Fibula is at 45 degree's and jagged. Further up, the Tibia appears to be splintered. How he remained conscious and lucid is beyond me.

Ben has a deep pool of calm somewhere inside that he seems able to dip into at will. I've seen it before, during our river guiding years, it's a rare quality that very few people I know possess. 

We transferred him from the big Russian M-17 to a small chopper in Lukla and

waved so long from a safe distance.  Chris and I were scheduled to fly out of Lukla

with a fixed wing ticket on the 22nd, but Chongba Sherpa, the Yeti Airlines Manager, an

old friend of Ben's,  put us back on a giant chopper a couple hours later and without

added cost we  flew into Kathmandu without delay, every seat was occupied to capacity and the aisles full of potatoes, chickens and eggs. Thanks, Mr. Chongba, we are now at the Kathmandu Guest House and my filthy laundry is being washed by someone else for a change.

 Ben is getting around on crutches now and has a cast from his toes to his butt. He wisely chose not to have surgery here but will wait until he gets back to his own specialist in Toronto. The third world is not known for high standards in hygiene or bone reconstruction.

Shaunna is helping Ben every step of the way and when he leaves will head back to base-camp to give the mountain her best shot on her own.

Good luck and best wishes to both Ben and Shaunna can be sent via Algonquin’s web-site.



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