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Climber recalls horror descent from ‘killer mountain’
February 02, 2018
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Sallanches: A French mountaineer who was rescued in a dramatic night-time operation on Pakistan’s “killer mountain” has told how she had to leave her weak and bleeding climbing partner and descend the peak alone in darkness.

Elisabeth Revol, speaking exclusively to AFP from a hospital in France’s Haute-Savoie region — where doctors are assessing whether she will require amputations due to frostbite in her hands and left foot -- said rescuers urged her to leave behind Tomek (Tomasz) Mackiewicz, a Polish national.

She earlier described the decision as “terrible and painful”.

It was Revol’s fourth attempt, her third with Mackiewicz, to scale the 8,125-metre (26,660-foot) Nanga Parbat during the winter season, when they ran into trouble amid frigid temperatures and high winds.

An elite group of Polish climbers managed to reach Revol but were unable to get to Mackiewicz, who was stranded further up the mountain.

Revol, who weighed just 43 kilogrammes (95 pounds) following her ordeal, left France on December 15 and began her adventure with Mackiewicz on January 20.

A few days later, as they approached the summit, she says they “felt good”. By early evening they finally reached the peak — making Revol the first woman to scale the mountain in winter, without oxygen or sherpa.

But their joy was shortlived.

“Tomek told me ‘I can’t see anything any more,’” Revol recalled.

“He hadn’t used a mask because it was a bit hazy during the day and by nightfall he had ophthalmia (an inflammation of the eye). We hardly had a second at the top. We had to rush to get down.”

Mackiewicz clung to Revol’s shoulders and they began the long, difficult descent in darkness.

“At one point, he couldn’t breathe,” Revol said. “He took off the protection he had in front of his mouth and he began to freeze. His nose became white and then his hands, his feet.”

They huddled overnight in a crevasse, trying desperately to shelter from the biting wind. But Mackiewicz no longer had the strength to continue the descent and by sunrise, his condition had deteriorated further.

Revol recalls that he had “blood streaming from his mouth”, a sign of oedema -- a buildup of fluid in the body and the ultimate stage of acute mountain sickness, which can be fatal without urgent treatment.

Agence France-Presse

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