Rescue on Khan Tengri ridge

While we were going down from the summit of Khan Tengri we often had to wait for less experienced climbers blocking fixed ropes and slowing us down.

Around 8 PM when it was getting dark at around 6700 m altitude we came across an Estonian, who seemed clumsy. He was trying to clip into rope multiple times and starting again trying to select a good one or a better knot. We got rather annoyed by wasting the time, however after a few minutes realized he must have been suffering from altitude sickness and first symptoms of High Altitude Cerebral Edema.

We gave him medicine and last drink of our tea. He was very tired, making short breaks quite often. He did not have any descender device and in the state he was in did not know how to use backup techniques.

To increase his safety my partner Stanislav lent him his figure 8 device and watched him use it or often clipped it into ropes for him to avoid any mistakes. We were moving very slowly. Every now and then we had to encourage disoriented and exhausted Estonia to carry on.

Around 4 AM at 6150 m we reached a lone tent on a small ledge not in a place of standard camps. Thanks to the help of Turkish group we stayed there for a few hours sitting on our backpacks cramped inside with no sleeping bags or sleeping mats.

At 7 AM we continued. Not sure if it was due to altitude sickness or frostbitten finger, but the sick climber was not able to put on his harness or crampons on his own – we had to help him. Luckily the hardest part was already behind us. Around 10 AM after over 30 h, exhausted we were back in Camp 3

On lower altitude and with next dose of medicine Estonian felt better and was able to go down to BC on his own a few days later.

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