Dispatch 24: Rescue Effort on Dhaulagiri

Simone La Terra climbing with Nick in 2015 on Gasherbrum I

Today, I woke up to the sound of a helicopter flying over my tent. I went up to the helipad and we watched as the helicopter made trip after trip up the mountain to look for Simone’s body. We all hoped that by some miracle, he was still alive with maybe broken limbs that prevented him from contacting base camp. He was after all in his tent with a sleeping bag and stove, so there was some remote possibility that he may still be alive despite spending more than 24 hours injured on the mountain (think Beck Weathers on Everest). After a few trips, the helicopter dropped off his sleeping bag. The next time, it brought his very unique gore-tex jacket, which had blood stains on it. Finally, with Alex Gavan inside and with the help of a Sherpa, Simone’s body was brought down by helicopter. He was found just above the altitude of Camp I under a dangerous serac. Alex and I broke down momentarily as our hope of his rescue came crashing down. Alex contacted his wife and broke the news to her. We all returned to our tents as Simone’s body was taken down to Kathmandu in the helicopter. We ate lunch, and I spent the afternoon with Alex as he worked through the traumatic events of the day. He took an enormous risk exiting the helicopter underneath the very dangerous serac in order to recover the body of Simone, but we do these things for those we care about. Ryan and I kept ourselves busy in order to avoid having to feel the devastation of losing a good friend. We sorted through equipment for our next acclimatization cycle up to Camp III. The weather has been unstable, alternating between heavy snow and high winds, so we are working on a plan to get up high with as little risk as possible. Heavy snow began to fall in the afternoon and continued to fall all evening. We ate dinner in the mess tent, then I went over to Alex’s tent to work with him a bit. We pushed off our acclimatization cycle a day thanks to the heavy snow accumulation.