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Melissa Arnot and David Morton Assist With Rescues on Descent to Base Camp
Posted on May 25, 2010

By Melissa Arnot

Often the hardest part of a climbing expedition is never what you expect it to be. That was certainly true for David and me. After two months of climbing towards the summit of Mount Everest, on May 23, David and I were able to reach the top. That is only where the adventure began for us. While descending from 29,035 feet to the South Col at 26,000 feet, a fellow guide of ours alerted us to a rescue in progress at about 27,000 feet. We made our way down and attempted to assist by offering oxygen and equipment to a climber who was slowly making his way down. Everything seemed to be under control, but that incident slowed us down considerably, as we arrived back at the South Col almost 14 hours after we had started climbing. Tired, we tucked into our tents, now in the midst of a snow and windstorm that had suddenly come upon us.

After a few hours of rest, we woke to more wind and snow at 5 a.m. and packed up our things to begin to head down. The intention of arriving at Base Camp by mid-afternoon started to seem like a distant possibility as David and I made our way down the Lhotse Face in a crowd of people. Already tired when we arrived at Camp II, we dropped our packs and realized we were only halfway down. We decided to eat a quick bite and keep walking.

As we dug out our snacks and shifted our loads around to carry down, we were alerted to a climber who had fallen in a crevasse earlier in the morning and was still inside. David immediately took over communications as we tried to assess what was happening. Many people had summited the day prior and with most everyone tired, it was hard to get anyone to come down to help. There are a few guides who work here who always seem to be ready to help, and this was no exception. We gathered some rescue gear and medical equipment and headed down to the Icefall below Camp I, where we were told we would find a female climber who had been involved in an ice bridge collapse and fell about 30 meters.

We arrived around 5 p.m., 12 hours after leaving Camp IV. The other climbers who had come to help were already in the process of stabilizing the women and getting ready to move her uphill, where she would spend the night until a rescue could be completed in the morning. David and I helped where we could, setting up rope systems to move her, communicating with the doctors at Base Camp, and performing a medical assessment to see how stable she was. We eventually got her into a tent, ensured she was warm, and left her with one guide and one doctor, recognizing that we no longer had enough clothes to stay for the night. As dark approached, we made our way through the Icefall for our last time this season, with the moon above us and our headlamps lighting our way over the ladders. At 9:30 p.m.,David and I stumbled into Base Camp, barely able to take off our boots, but happy to be down. Today was an adventure, which started with standing on the summit of Mount Everest. Let’s hope our next adventure is a little less exciting.

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Author: - Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

  1. Esther Ochsman

    So glad/relieved to know that you and David summitted and are safely back in camp. We weren’t suprised to read that you risked your safe return to help another climber. It says so much about the integrity and training of you both.

  2. Vivian

    Melissa/David:Congrats on your summit. I have been following Melissa via SOTS as I am going in the fall. I am sure the families of the 2 people you both helped this week will be eternally gratefull you took the time. God Bless. Thanks to you I have First Ascent and I love my jacket works well in Canada and will serve me well at Kili.

  3. Jim Arnot

    Team Arnot/Morton. Nicely done. You guys are rock solid.

  4. Laura

    What a great accomplishment- Congrats….will you all trek back to Lukla or will you be flown out by helicopter?? Having treked that area, I’d opt for the free ride back if you can!!

  5. Michel

    Just had a discussion with my class on how difficult it can be to make ethical decisions in the midst of non-ethical considerations, like safety or pursuing goals. I will share both your successes with the kids: the summit and the rescue. Not sure which one I admire most! Congrats.

  6. Travis Bosworth

    Congratulations on both the summit and making the right call to jump in and help in spite of what must have been overwhelming fatigue…That was a chance to show your true mettle, and you did. We at Eddie Bauer are proud of both accomplishments…Come home safely!

  7. zhelko

    congratulations to both of you for successfully summiting and willing to participate in a rescue. you guys are such an inspiration!

  8. Lew Smith

    Melissa and Dave,
    Congratulations on an incredible accomplishment! The decision to assist fellow climbers in need in the midst of such an accomplishment is a testament to your professionalism and humanity. Your rescue efforts may seem to both of you as “just doing what needed to be done”, but when others were asked for help, there was refusal. Not with the both of you. Your selfless attitude is another example of the American way of taking action in times of need and only compounds your memorable climbing achievement!

  9. Nancy

    Many congratulations on your summit! What an incredible accomplishment! And to answer the call for help of another climber in trouble, you have my utmost respect. Well done!

  10. J Kipper

    Well done!

  11. nyima tsering sherpa

    congrats to both of you.
    rescuing someone while you yourself were exhausted is some great work you guys have done.well done.

  12. barbara

    You are the best for helping others in need… Thank you for keeping the faith, you are an inspiration.

    Stay healthy Michael Brown… :-)>

    (fan of Michael and Dave H. from Everest 2000)

  13. Rob Rowley

    Dave & Melissa: Congratulations on your climb and kudos for assisting in the rescues. You both have my admiration and respect. Have a safe trip home. Namaste
    Rob “The Ice Ax Man.”

  14. Mailerum Perumal

    Very happy to read that you guys were able to provide some kind of help to the victims in spite of being very tired. Great!

  15. Martin Raphael

    Dave and Melissa — I met you both at Dhukla when you were on your way for a rest at Pheriche. I was on my way to basecamp, having been inspired to do this after reading your posts from previous years. Congratulations on your successful climbs, and especially for stopping to aid your fellow climbers. Great job!

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