Date of Incident
We were descending from the Sherpani/West Col having crossed from Makalu BC and were heading for the top of the Hongu Valley. We had done the long abseil, using our own ropes set up by the climbing glide and were descending the final rock band to the glacier. The guide had led my wife down and she was sitting safely on the glacier about 10m below me. The abseil ropes had been left in place above us for the porters to descend and we had no more rope of our own to abseil with. There was a rope that had been fixed by a previous party protecting the wall and I was clipped into this. I was trying to use the rock and not rely on the rope, though it appeared to be well anchored. There was an awkward section that required me to downclimb traversing. The holds were poor and after trying to make the moves and getting legs and arms tangled I decided to use the rope to pull on with the encouragement of the guide who was watching below. I made the move with one hand on a hold and one hand using the rope. A foot slipped off the little ledge and I was flying head first backwards off the face. I saw a patch of rock below and thought: "This is going to be bad". I landed on my back head down on the ice rather than the rock and lay there wondering why nothing seemed to be hurting. Later I discovered that I had broken a metal internal strut in my rucsac. As I had landed on my back my rucsac had taken the full force and protected me. (I was using a Crux AK 70). I wriggled round to get upright. I was till attached to the rope which was anchored at the end and which had saved me from scooting off down the glacier to a crevasse which is what happened a little later to one of the porters' loads. I also discovered I had snapped one of the clips on the leg loop of my harness, a Petzel Altitude.
It was getting late and so we did not dwell on the incident as we needed to get off the glacier before dark (we didn't).
It was a very remote location, a serious injury here would have had major consequences. We avoided thinking about what these might have been
In these situations where there are fixed ropes sense tells you not to rely on them but the practicalities of the day - in the Himalaya on steep ground you are often using rope fixed by other parties maybe several days previously. Guides and trekkers generally rely on these rather than each group fixing their own new ropes for practical, money and time reasons. 90% of the time it is fine to rely on them but only 90%....
Rescue Services Involved?
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All reports are self-submitted and have not been edited by the BMC in any way, so please keep an open mind regarding the lessons and causes of each incident or near-miss.