My phone rings in my pocket. I'm informed Mingma Tenzing, one of our Sherpas passed away at Kathmandu hospital today.
Mingma was working at Base camp with the rest of the team organizing base camp when he complained of not feeling well. Tashi Tunde Sherpa, our Sirdar, sent him him down to Pheriche to the HRA clinic but he only went to Lobuche. The doctors there determined he had severe HAPE - high altitude pulmonary edema. Now too dark for helicopter rescue, he was kept at the clinic under the care of the medical team. He was lifted by helicopter and flown to Kathmandu. Karsung Sherpa our base manager met him at the airport and took a video of him walking with the oxygen bottle to the ambulance and showed this to me at the Ministry office. My first thought was one of relief, he can walk! He waved at Karsung taking his picture, he'll be okay!
A few hours went by with the formalities and I get a call that Mingma Tenzing Sherpa from Namche Bazaar had passed away. They could not control the fluid that kept building in his lungs no matter how hard they tried.
We are in complete disbelief. This reminds us once again just how serious AMS - (acute mountain sickness) is. Even with all the knowledge, medicene, clinics, awareness, conditioning and helicopters, you cannot guarantee no one will die from the affects of altitude.
I've yet to talk to Tashi or Mingma's family. We fly to Lukla tomorrow morning where we can meet in person.
Our team is overwhelmed with sadness for his family. Ours prayers go out to them at this extremely difficult time. Tea lights have been lit, we hang my heads in sorrow.
This is really difficult as our Sirdar Tashi Sherpa had hired him for the first time. I had not even had the opportunity to meet him.
Tim & Becky and team