An Avoidable Tragedy

Everest Spring 2016 | A story of Betrayal, Bravery and Brotherhood

Dream Wanderlust

Category: Featured Article
Date of Publication: Jan 12 , 2017Vol-03 Issue-02

In May 2016, a team of four climbers from West Bengal, India, took part in the Everest Expedition via South Col, Nepal. The team faced terrible situation while making their final summit attempt from Camp-4, which led to the death of three climbers. The lone survivor, Sunita Hazra was rescued by a British climber from another team (Leslie John Binns) and her dreadful experiences have been retold several times. The weather was moderately good for climbing on the days linked with the catastrophe. Tourism department of Nepal has declared this tragedy as manmade. This article is based on some recorded interviews and emails of climbers or persons who were associated with the ill-fated climbers or were linked to the accident. The objective was to figure out the situation that the climbers might have faced during their expedition. The timeline of summit push from Camp-3 onwards has been highlighted here.

We assume that all who have helped us with their inputs, have done so to the best of their knowledge. All interviews and correspondence were exhaustive and extensive, and only those comments that are pertinent and relevant to the issue have been included below. Dream Wanderlust undertakes no responsibility on the authenticity of the statements given. Some observations have been highlighted based on the available data. It is difficult to find out the exact causes of the events or to draw any direct conclusion on what led to the disaster. However, the readers can always form their own opinions or inferences. We have put all statements/comments from the climbers/persons who have been interviewed chronologically, mentioning the actual/approximated time and place.

The ill-fated team: Goutam Ghosh, Subhas Paul,Paresh Nath and Sunita Hazra
Sherpa: Beer Bahadur Gurung (Bishnu), Mingma Tamang, Pasang Nuru, Lakhpa Sherpa and Thile Sherpa
Agency: Trekking Camp Nepal (Loben Agency)

We are thankful to: Indian Army, NCC Everest Team, Climbers from IMG, Sherpas from different agencies, Himalayan Rescue Association, YSD (WB), Climbers from Seven Summit Trek, Leslie Binns and Family members of the ill-fated climbers.

Image-1: The Team


Highlights
- The team started their final summit push on 17th May, 2016 from Base Camp to reach the summit on 21st May, 2016.
- Team (all four) left from South Col on 20th May at 19:30hrs.
- They (Sunita, Goutam and Paresh) reached Balcony at around 5:00 hrs in the morning of 21st May.
- These three members lost contacts with Subhas and his Sherpa before reaching the Balcony. And a Sherpa was also found absent at Balcony.
- Sunita, Paresh and Goutam with Bishnu (Sherpa) and Pashang Sherpa, after waiting for around 2 hours for Subhas and Paresh's Sherpa took the decision to continue to summit without one Sherpa (Mingma Tamang).
- After sometime, Paresh was advised to return to Camp-4 alone.
- A few meters above the Balcony, Pashang Sherpa disappeared.
- Sunita, Bishnu and Goutam continued to approach the summit.
- While returning back from the Summit for some reason Lakhpa left Subhas.
- Other climbers on 21st May had seen Sunita, Goutam and Bishnu near south-summit making their way up to the summit.
- Sunita, Goutam and Bishnu Reached Summit (only Bishnu has photographic evidence)
- On their way down from South Summit they (Sunita and Goutam) found Pashang Sherpa on the South East ridge.
- On their way back to Camp-4, at Balcony, Bishnu left the team and after some time Pashang Sherpa too left them.
- From Balcony onwards, Sunita, Goutam were descending without supplementary oxygen.
- Sunita found Paresh (without his Sherpa) while descending below the Balcony and overtook him.
- Goutam stayed alone just below the balcony (somewhere on the triangular face) self-anchored and probably passed away during the night.
- Sunita was rescued by Leslie John Binns at around mid-night from above the south Col. Leslie John Binns with his Sherpa brought Sunita to the Camp-4 abandoning their summit bid, but was unable to bring Subhas down.
- Paresh stayed just above the South Col, severely affected by altitude sickness and tiredness but was alive even without oxygen.
- Several teams crossed Paresh seeing him in near-dead condition at the time of their ascent to the summit that night.
- On 22nd, May morning climbers from IMG brought Subhas down to South Col
- Leslie John Binns and IMG team treated Sunita and Subhas at south Col.
- Sherpas from Sunita's team found Sunita and Subhas and brought them to the tent.
- Sunita descended mostly down alone from C-4 to C-3. Her fingers were already frostbitten and during her descent she slipped down several times which caused a fracture on her wrist. No Sherpa helped her down that descent. Still she fought and could reach the Camp-3 alone.
- One of their Sherpas informed Sunita near Camp-3 that Subhas had stopped at Zeneva Spur, and could not continue down.
- However, Paresh was still alive on 22nd May. NCC team on their way down found Paresh surprisingly alive till then (evening). They took him to the South Col camp.
- Sherpas from NCC team informed on 23rd morning to others that Paresh passed away in their tent.

Timeline

18 APR 12:00
Sunita Hazra

Basecamp

"We reached Everest Base Camp (5365m )."

17 MAY 02:30
Sunita Hazra

Basecamp

"We left BC for Camp-1 for final summit push at 2:30am on17th May."

17 MAY 11:00
Sunita Hazra

Camp-1

"Reached Camp-1 at around 11:00 am with Subhas, Paresh and Pashang Sherpa. Other Sherpas would catch us at Camp-2. Paresh, Subhas and I decided to stay at Camp-1 for that day. Goutam along with Pashang moved ahead towards Camp-2."

Image-2: Everest Route via South Col


18 MAY 06:00
Sunita Hazra

Camp-1

"We left for Camp-2 around 6 o'clock in the morning. We met other three Sherpas of our team on our way towards Camp-2."

18 MAY 11:15
Sunita Hazra

Camp-2

"Reached Camp-2 around 11:15 am. There we were united with our team. "

18 MAY 11:45
Debasish Biswas

[Climber from Bengal attempting to Lhotse] (Camp-4 Lhotse)

"I was on my Lhotse expedition. At around 11:45 am, when I was in Camp-4 (on the Lhotse route) an accident took place there which caused a disruption in opening up the route to the Lhotse summit."

19 MAY 07:00
Sunita Hazra

Camp-2

"Around 7:00 am we started ascending. I left the camp with Bishnu and Goutam followed by Paresh, Subhas and other Sherpas."

19 MAY 07:45
Sunita Hazra

Towards Camp-3

"We met NCC team while approaching Camp-3. One of their Sherpas helped me by adjusting my personal gears. And I moved rest of the way almost alone. Bishnu with Goutam were ahead of me."

Image-3: Towards Camp-3 [Courtesy: Sunita Hazra]

Image-4: Reaching at Camp-3 [Courtesy: Sunita Hazra]


19 MAY 15:00
Sunita Hazra

Camp-3

"We reached Camp-3 around 3:00 pm. Goutam and Bishnu reached before us. "

19 MAY 16:00
Debasish Biswas

(Camp-3)

"At around 4 pm we decided to return back to the Canp-3. When I reached Camp-3 (around 5:30pm), I found Malay's team there preparing for the summit bid. [Camp-3 is common for both Lhotse and Everest summits]. I was busy in preparing myself for re-attempting the summit of Lhotse if everything goes all right."

20 MAY 02:45
Rudra Prasad Halder

[Climber from another team from Bengal (Summit day 21st May)] (Camp-3)

"We left camp 3 at 2.45 am."

20 MAY 03:00
Ramesh Ray

[Climber from another team from Bengal (Summit day 21st May)] (Camp-3)

"We left C-3 at 3:00 am. We were there with Sunita and others till Camp 2. We had reached Camp 3 together. Goutam was with us till 1:00 pm. Sunita and other three members reached camp-3 later. The interim time during which we were getting ready for South Col, we had not heard of Goutam or any of his team members. I called out Goutam da's name multiple times on our way to south Col but there was no response. So we are not sure when they started for and reached South Col."

20 MAY 03:00
Pemba Sherpa

[Sherpa from another team from Bengal (Summit day 21st May)] (Camp-3)

"We left Camp-3 around 3:00 am for Camp-4. I didn't see any light in their tent."

20 MAY 03:30
Debasish Biswas

(Camp-3)

"On 20th May, at around 3:30 am Malay, Satyarup, Rudraprasad and Ramesh left Camp-3. I didn't enquire about Sunita's team."

20 MAY (NA)
Col. Gaurav Karki

[Climber, Indian Army, Leader of NCC team (Summit day 21st May)] (Camp-3)

"At Camp 3, one of the persons called my name and he informed me that he is Mr. Ghosh from Bengal. He also wanted to set out for the summit with our team."

20 MAY 04:30
Sunita Hazra

Camp-3

"We started ascending towards Camp-4 around 4:30 am. We also started using supplementary oxygen on the way. Goutam, Bishnu and I were followed by Subhas, Paresh and Sherpa."

20 MAY 05:00
Col. Gaurav Karki

Camp-3

"Bengal team (Sunita's team) left at around 5:00 am from Camp 3 and our team left at 6:00 am."

20 MAY 05:00
Major Deepika Rathore

[Climber, Indian Army, from NCC team (Summit day 21st May)] (Camp-3)

"Yes, I did meet them. When we were in Camp 3, their Camp was right in front of us. I spoke to the lady climber. She informed me that she was the lone female climber in her team along with three-four male climbers. I remember, I offered a glass of warm water to her. And there I met Mr Ghosh and Paul too.
They left Camp 3 quite early. I think it was around 5:00 am."

20 MAY 08:30
Debasish Biswas

(Camp-4 to Camp-2)

"20th May around 8:30 am I left from my tent to go down to Camp 2, waiting for the next summit bid for Lhotse.
I then found a person inside Goutam's tent. He said that all the climbers are fine and on their way towards Camp-4."

20 MAY 10:30
Sunita Hazra

(Yellow Band)

"We had to wait because of traffic jam.
We met Debraj, Pradeep Sahoo and Chetna Sahoo and Rafik from Bombay."

Image-5: Approaching Yellow Band [Courtesy: Sunita Hazra]

Image-6: Before reaching Camp-4 [Courtesy: Sunita Hazra]


20 MAY 12:00
Malay Mukherjee

[Climber from another team from Bengal (Summit day 21st May)] (Camp-4)

"Reached Camp-4 by 12:30 hrs. Can't say about the members from other team."

20 MAY 13:00
Rudra Prasad Halder

(Camp-4)

"Reached Camp 4 by 1:00 pm"

20 MAY 13:00
Pemba Sherpa

(Camp-4)

"Reached Camp-4 at 1:00 pm"

20 MAY 13:30
Sunita Hazra

(Before Genva Spur)

"I was climbing ahead of my group, following the trail of one foreign climber and a Sherpa. That (unknown) Sherpa helped me by checking my oxygen level before Genva Spur and then I continued to climb towards Camp-4."

20 MAY 14:00
Debasish Biswas

(Camp-2)

"I had walkie-talkie with me, around 2:00 pm got the news that Malay's team is steady and about to reach South Col. Then I moved to the Loben Agency's tent to enquire about Goutam and Sunita. A person from kitchen confirmed me that they were steady."

20 MAY 14:20
Sunita Hazra

Geneva Spur

"After crossing the Geneva spur, there is a steep ridge where the NCC team overtook me. I had a little chat with them."

20 MAY 14:45
Sunita Hazra

Geneva Spur

"Then I saw Seema Goswami and Narinder Sing (climber from Haryana) descending down. She was ill that time. She greeted me and wished me luck."

20 MAY 15:00
Sunita Hazra

Camp-4

"Reached Camp-4 between 3:00 - 3:30 pm alone, waiting for my team to come in. It was windy at Camp-4. With much difficulty I found my tent. All climbers and Sherpas were busy at Camp 4. I saw Pemba (The Sherpa from other team from Bengal) once from a distance."

20 MAY 15:30
Sunita Hazra

Camp-4

"Other climbers of my team came after half an hour. We took tea there.
My Sherpa announced that 7-8 oxygen-cylinders had gone missing from Camp 4.
At Camp 4 It was decided that Goutam would climb with Bishnu, Mimgma Tamang with Paresh, I would go with Pashang and Subhas would climb with Lakhpa Sherpa.
Our Agency had promised us to provide minimum 5 cylinders each for individual climbers and 3 for Sherpas. But actually we got 6 (instead of 8 for me and my Sherpa) from which I had already used one during my climb from Camp 3 to Camp 4. So for my case, I took 2 cylinders in my sack and Pashang kept 3."



20 MAY 15:30
Col. Gaurav Karki

Camp-4

"We reached Camp 4 at 3.30 pm."

20 MAY 16:00
Pemba Sherpa

Camp-4

"I think, I saw them (Sunita's team) at Camp 4 at around 4:00 pm. We left Camp 4 at around 6:00 pm."

20 MAY 16:30
Naba Kumar Phukan

[Climber from Assam (Summit day 20th May)] (Camp-4)

"I summited Everest on 20th May. On my way back I met this Bengali team at Camp-4 at around 4:00 - 4:30 pm. I had lost my sleeping bag at the summit camp. I came to Goutam's tent and asked him, "Can you give me one sleeping bag please?" Then Goutam replied from inside the tent, "How many do you need? Please take as much as you need...". Then I took one from him. On asking about their summit attempt he replied that they were almost ready to leave. Their health condition seemed perfect to me."

20 MAY 16:30
Debasish Biswas

(Camp-2)

"Around 4:30 pm when I met that same person who was base camp manager from Loben Agency. To my surprise they didn't give any news about Sunita's team. Seemed to be careless about tracking the news of their client. I noticed a miscommunication between their support staff."

20 MAY 18:15
Rudra Prasad Halder

(Camp-4)

"On 20th, we left at 6:15 pm from Camp 4 for the summit. Pemba was my sherpa."

20 MAY 18:30
Satyarup Siddhanta

[Climber from another team from Bengal (Summit day 21st May)] (Camp-4)

"We left from Camp-4 at around 6:30 pm. Rudra from our team was trying to figure out their (Goutam's team) tent but could not locate."

20 MAY 19:00
Col. Gaurav Karki

Camp-4

They (Sunita's team) left Camp 4 at around 7 pm on 20th May. We left Camp-4 at 9:00 pm for the summit. We crossed them en route to the summit. On the way we crossed 15-20 climbers. I couldn't identify them as everybody was in their head gears. So it was difficult to make out.

20 MAY 19:30
Sunita Hazra

Camp-4

"We left Camp 4 around 19:30 - 20:00 hrs. We saw NCC team preparing themselves for the summit push outside the tents."

Image-7: South Col [Courtesy: Sunita Hazra]



20 MAY 21:00
Major Deepika Rathore

(Camp-4)

"On 20th May, we left South Col at around 9 pm. The team (Sunita's team) from Bengal had left around 7:00 pm. We crossed them at a place one hour before the Balcony at around 1:30-2:00 am."

Image-8: Everest Summit Route from Camp-4 [Courtesy: Dipankar Ghosh]


21 MAY 05:00
Sunita Hazra

Balcony

"Early in the morning, we (Sunita, Goutam and Paresh) reached Balcony with Bishnu and Pashang. We waited for a long time for the other members (Subhas, Mingma Tamang and Lakhpa) to come. At that time, we didn't know that Subhas (with Lakhpa) was way ahead of us. As far as I remember, we wasted around two hours. The simple reason for waiting for such a long time was to move together as we had less Sherpas with us."

21 MAY 05:30
Rudra Prasad Halder

Summit

"Satyarup and Malay were the first ones from our team to reach the summit. They reached around 5:25 am on 21st.We reached the summit few minutes from their summit."

21 MAY 07:15
Debasish Biswas

(Camp-2)

"Next morning at Camp 2, I was still struggling with my Lhotse bid. At around 7:15 am, Pemba Sherpa gave the news of their summit via walkie-talkie. Then I asked him (camp-2 Manager) about Sunita's team but he didn't have any news by that time. I moved to the Loben's tent and asked that person if he has any news. He replied me casually saying he has no news."

21 MAY 08:00
Sunita Hazra

Balcony

"Sherpa (Bishnu) had assured us the possibility of making it to the summit. We then decided to continue without Subhas and others. I changed my oxygen cylinder with the new one leaving the fully empty or partially empty cylinders at Balcony. When we finally moved from the Balcony, I was carrying one cylinder and Pashang was carrying two."

21 MAY 08:00
Sunita Hazra

Balcony

"Strangely Paresh was climbing without his Sherpa Mimgma Tamang. I do not know why Mimgma did not come with us. He must have stayed at South Col."

Image-9: Before leaving Balcony (07:45) [Courtesy: Courtesy: Sunita Hazra]

Image-10: Goutam Ghosh (Yellow Jacket) climbing towards South Summit, Above Balcony (09:59) [Courtesy: Sunita Hazra]



21 MAY 09:00
Sunita Hazra

Above Balcony

"Pashang left us from just above the Balcony. Paresh, Goutam, Bishnu and I were together then. While ascending, I was in the front, Goutam was in the middle and behind us Paresh as climbing with Bishnu. Pashang had disappeared with my two oxygen cylinders."

21 MAY 09:30
Ramesh Ray

(Hillary Step)

"On our way back from summit on 21st, after crossing Hilary Step, we met Subhas around 9.30-10:00 am. He seemed normal."

21 MAY 09:30
Emily Johnston

[Climber, Doctor from IMG, Summit day 21st May] (Summit)

"On the night of May 20, my party left the South Col heading for the summit. The last of my group summited on May 21 at around 9:30 in the morning."

21 MAY 09:30
Malay Mukherjee

(Towards Camp-4)

"On my way back from the summit, I was bit slow as I had problem with my eyesight. I found Subhas around 9:00-9:30 am. I wished him luck, he was steady and energetic."

21 MAY 09:30
Rudra Prasad Halder

(Near South-Summit)

"While we were heading to south summit, we came across Subhas Pal at around 9.30 am. He had just set out for the summit. He informed us that Sunita and Goutam were also coming behind him. Paresh would not come. It was difficult to make out Subhas's condition. He didn't seem unwell to us."

21 MAY 10:00
Sunita Hazra

Above Balcony

"Bishnu advised Paresh to return back to Camp 4. (Possibly because of his slow pace and climbing without the support of Sherpa). We hadn't seen his Sherpa Mingma Tamang anywhere above Camp 4. I came across Mingma after two days, when I returned back to Camp 3 on 23rd May. That time he had come from Camp 2 to help me out. So, he must have descended back to Camp 2 leaving Paresh alone.
Unfortunately, Paresh had left us from a ridge located above the Balcony and started descending alone."



21 MAY 10:23
Paul Pottinger

[Climber, Member of IMG Hybrid Expedition (Summit day 21st May)] (Below South Summit)

"At 10:23 AM on Saturday May 21, 2016. Subhas was climbing the Southeast Ridge and I was descending after having reached the summit. Based on my GPS tracker, I estimate the elevation at our meeting spot to be 28,400 feet (about 300 feet below the South Summit)"

21 MAY 10:45
Paul Pottinger

(Bellow South Summit)

"I met Sunita and Goutam 20 minutes later, at 10:45 AM on Saturday May 21, 2016. They were climbing the Southeast Ridge while I was descending. Based on my GPS tracker, I estimate the elevation at our meeting spot to be 28,270 feet.
I was working hard climbing down, and they were working hard climbing up. We exchanged a few words as we passed each other on the lines, as climbers often do, but nothing more than that. I did not know their names or even see their faces because we were all wearing oxygen masks. I did speak with the support climber accompanying Subhas, who asked me what time it was. I checked my watch and told him 10:20 three times to ensure he could hear me (it is difficult to talk up there with masks and with our headgear on). There was a support climber with Subhas and another one with Sunita and Goutam. I do not know whether these were ethnic Sherpa climbers, but they did seem to be support climbers from their expedition. "



21 MAY 11:00
Pemba Sherpa

(Near Balcony)

"On my way down, I saw Sunita and Goutam near balcony at around 11:00 am. I feel Subhas and his Sherpa were ahead of them. I could not recognise them (Subhas and his Sherpa). Goutam's Sherpa (Gurung) told me that their supp. oxygen was limited and he also asked me to make Goutam convince to get down to camp-4. I didn't do that as he was not our client.
I saw Sunita after that, didn't talk to her."

21 MAY 11:00
Sunita Hazra

(Below South Summit)

"Around 11:00 hrs we saw Ramesh (Ramesh Roy) and Rudra (Rudra Prashad Halder) coming down after their summit. We exchanged a few words. We were worried about our summit bid. They encouraged us to move ahead with faster pace. I asked them for extra oxygen if they had keeping in mind that we were quite late which may lead to a catastrophe. But, they couldn't help us. They gave us some water (my water bottle was inside the sack)."

21 MAY 11:00
Sunita Hazra

(Below South Summit)

"We two (Sunita and Goutam) were moving with Bishnu. One Sherpa (on his way down) agreed to give extra oxygen but Bishnu refused to buy. Later, on clarification he said that he refused it to avoid extra luggage. But,I could carry it without much difficulty as I already had been carrying 2 cylinders till the Balcony."

21 MAY 11:20
Sunita Hazra

(Below South Summit)

"We encountered NCC team who had summited on that day. They were on their way down. They cheered me up."

21 MAY 11:20
Major Deepika Rathore

(Summit)

"I was the first one to reach the summit around 10.20 am. By 11.20 am all the members of our team had reached. By 12:00 -1:00 pm everyone started to descend."

21 MAY 11:30
Ramesh Ray

(Below South Summit)

"We met Goutam and Sunita around 11-11.30 am. From there it would take four to five hours to reach the summit.
Goutam asked if we had spare Oxygen. We replied that we didn't have any spare oxygen. Goutam was followed by Sunita and Sherpa. Goutam enquired about the amount of time it will take to reach the summit. They all seemed fine but their pace was very slow."

21 MAY 11:30
Malay Mukherjee

(Camp-4)

"Around 11:00-11:30 am, I saw Goutam and Sunita somewhere above the Balcony. I saw them climbing in very slow pace. Talked to Goutam. I asked him to climb with faster speed to reach the summit. He asked me if I had extra oxygen."

21 MAY 11:30
Debasish Biswas

(Camp-2)

"At around 11:30 am, I again met that person (Camp-2 manager) at Camp-2 and asked about the summit news from Sunita's team. Surprisingly he had neither summit news nor any information about their current location. I was angry at him because weather was clear and walkie-talkie should work ... and how come someone is so inactive! There were other tents from different agencies as well but he didn't call anyone to assist him about the news."

21 MAY 12:00
Ramesh Thapa

[Sherpa from NCC team (Summit day 21st May)] (Near South Summit)

"I saw that Bishnu Sherpa (Sunita's Sherpa) at 12:00 pm near south summit saying that the lady was unable to climb and still she wished to continue the climb."

21 MAY 12:00
Major Deepika Rathore

(Below South Summit)

"I first met the female climber (Sunita) again 10-15 minutes below South summit at around 12:00 -12:15 pm. She asked me how far the summit is. I remember her very well. She was the first person I interacted with after my summit.
I informed her that it would take around one and half to two hours if a person keeps walking at her normal pace. Summit was one and a half hours from there. Though she was walking slowly alone, she was full with enthusiasm. So I am sure she must have made it to the summit. I saw two more climbers (male) 15-20 min below her."

Image-11: Sunita Hazra encountering NCC team near South Summit [Courtesy: From Goutam's Camera]


21 MAY 12:00
Sunita Hazra

(South Summit)

"We (Sunita, Goutam and Bishnu) reached south summit around 12:00 hrs."

Image-12: Sunita Hazra near South Summit [Courtesy: From Goutam's Camera]

Image-13: Goutam Ghosh at South Summit (possibly) [Courtesy: From Goutam's Camera]


21 MAY 12:30
Dipankar Ghosh

Climber, YSD Representative for rescue (Kathmandu)

"Around 12:30 pm Loben Sherpa informed me that Goutam, Sunita, Paresh reached south summit."

21 MAY 13:00
Col. Gaurav Karki

(Summit)

"I reached the summit at around 1:00 pm on 21st. After spending one hour at the top we came down by noon.
Since I was myself feeling very dizzy, I didn't notice anyone anywhere. I cannot recollect having seen anyone. We reached Camp 4 at 6.00 pm. We came to know about the missing members on reaching the Base camp on 23rd. Three out of four members from Bengal were missing."

21 MAY 13:00
Pemba Sherpa

(Camp-4)

"I came to Camp 4 by 1:00 pm."

Image-14: Subhas at summit of Everest (Around 13:20 hrs) [Courtesy: From Subhas's Camera]


21 MAY 13:00
Satyarup Siddhanta

(Camp-4)

"I was the first from my team to reach Camp 4 (at 1:00 pm). On my way back I was focused on my climbing... so I couldn't recognise anyone from their team. Malay da caught snow blindness in both eyes. He reached Camp 4 by evening."

21 MAY 13:30
Sunita Hazra

(Hillary Step)

"It took around one to one and half hours to reach the Hillary step. We didn't find any climber out there."

21 MAY 14:00
Sunita Hazra

(Above Hillary Step)

"We didn't find any fixed rope at the ridge which leads to the summit."

21 MAY 14:00
GCI Dolyne

[Climber, Indian Army from NCC team (Summit day 22nd May)](Camp-4)

"We Reached Camp 4 on 21st in the afternoon around 2:00 pm (Summit on 22nd)."

21 MAY 15:00
Sunita Hazra

(Summit)

"Weather had deteriorated by then. I was the first (among three) to reach the summit around 2:30-3:00 pm. The reason I couldn't take my summit photo was my camera got locked (one camera was lost with Pashang). Fearing for the shortage of supplementary oxygen and bad weather, I started descending immediately from the summit point.
And I was the first to have started descending. Then I saw Bishnu and Goutam following me. Without wasting much time, I continued to descend."

Image-15: Bishnu Gurung at the Summit of Everest (15:45 hrs) [Courtesy: From Goutam's Camera]


21 MAY 15:00
Trishala Gurung

[Climber from NCC team (Summit day 22nd May)](Camp-4)

"We reached (ascended to) Camp 4 on 21st around 3:00 pm. (Summit on 22nd)"

21 MAY 15:30
Sunita Hazra

(Hillary step)

"When I came to Hillary step, I felt that my oxygen supply had reduced."

21 MAY 15:30
Major Deepika Rathore

(Camp-4)

"We reached (returned back) Camp-4 roughly around 3:00 - 3:30 pm."

21 MAY 16:00
Sunita Hazra

(Above South Summit)

"My oxygen was fully exhausted. This was the same bottle I had been using since the Balcony."

21 MAY 16:00
Ramesh Ray

(Camp-4)

"We reached South Col around 4:00 pm. On our way back from summit after having reached South Col, the weather was fine. After sometime the weather had turned for worse. Strong winds started blowing and there was slight snowfall."

21 MAY 16:00
Debasish Biswas

(Camp-2)

"Around 4:00 pm I didn't find anyone (from support staff) at their tents at Camp 2."

21 MAY 16:15
Sunita Hazra

(South Summit)

"Reached south summit."

21 MAY 16:20
Sunita Hazra

(Below South Summit)

"Strangely, I found Pashang just below the South Summit. Pashang appeared for the first time after he left us from above the Balcony. He might have climbed alone... But, I don't know why. Then he (Pashang) gave me a used bottle of oxygen."

21 MAY 16:20
Sunita Hazra

(Below South Summit)

"The sequence of descent was Bishnu first and then Goutam, I and Pashang followed him. Tried to put our best efforts in descending fast."

21 MAY -
Major Deepika Rathore

(Camp-4)

"She was all alone. I met the female climber Sunita twice-thrice in the entire expedition. She was alone all along, not accompanied by anyone...neither a male member nor a Sherpa. She was climbing alone. When I saw her below the south summit at that time also she was climbing alone. But since she descended without oxygen from balcony onwards, it is very lucky on her part to have survived."

21 MAY 16:30
Debasish Biswas

(Camp-2)

"Around 4:30 pm from seven summit's tent one update came saying that all four climbers went missing. By that time, we started receiving the bad news about Seema Goswami, Naba Kumar, an Australian climber and so on who were required to be rescued. At Camp 2, a mini-hospital has been set up temporarily. Received the news about sad demise of Rajiv Bhattacharya at Mt. Dhaulagiri."

21 MAY 18:00
Sunita Hazra

(Balcony)

"The sun set. It was windy. Could not find Bishnu at Balcony."

21 MAY 18:05
Sunita Hazra

(Below Balcony)

"Goutam had just stopped and was standing in front of me and ... then I sat down. My system wanted to take some rest for a while...Goutam was calling for help from Pashang...but unexpectedly Pashang didn't respond and went away."

21 MAY 18:05
Sunita Hazra

(Below Balcony)

"Goutam said that his hands were about to freeze. I was trying to convince him to go down as soon as possible because if he didn't move soon his body would have collapsed. Meanwhile I feel asleep for a sometime."

21 MAY 18:15
Sunita Hazra

(Below Balcony)

"After some time I overtook Goutam and asked him to follow me. Weather had started deteriorating. It was snowing with high wind. "

21 MAY 18:30
Sunita Hazra

(Below Balcony)

"After some more time I was surprised to see Paresh (alone) over there. I asked him what he was doing here since morning. Because he left us from Balcony and was supposed to reach Camp 4. Paresh didn't reply to my question. He didn't move but said that he would try to come. His oxygen was finished long back."

21 MAY 19:00
Lt. Col Vishal Ahlawat

[Climber, Indian Army, Deputy Leader of NCC team (Summit day 22nd May)](Camp-4)

"We had planned to leave for summit at 7:00 pm on 21st evening from Camp 4. But some members didn't have sufficient water with them. So we got delayed by one hour in the process of arranging for the water supplies. Finally, we set out at 8 pm from Camp 4."

21 MAY 19:30
Sunita Hazra

(Below Balcony)

"I then overtook Paresh and started descending down on sitting posture. I could see some light coming up from head torches from down. Yes, those climbers were on their summit bid for 22nd May. I thought all of our Sherpas left us because they would arrange some oxygen from Camp 4 and would come back for rescue."

21 MAY 20:00
Kumari Nutan

[Climber from NCC team (Summit day 22nd May)](Camp-4)

"I was in team 2 of the NCC Everest Expedition. We left south Col on 21st. Summited on 22nd morning. We left Camp 4 at 8-8:30 pm."

21 MAY 20:00
Vishnu Rana Sherpa

[Sherpa from NCC team (Summit day 22nd May)](Camp-4)

"We left Camp 4 at 8 pm on 21st May."

21 MAY 20:30
Trishala Gurung

(Balcony)

"We started at around 8.30 pm on 21st night for the summit. We reached Balcony around 1.30 am on 22nd."

21 MAY Night
Sunita Hazra

(Below Balcony)

"My fingers were freezing as I had to change my anchor several times with bare hands taking off mittens.
I then started sliding down along the fixed ropes. Can't remember for how long I did so. Climbers on their way up were crossing me and each time they called me saying 'Wake up!', 'wake up!'. I could only recognise a few girls from NCC team...and every time I had to change my anchor to give them way to move up. Someone encouraged me saying "think about your family and go down!" "

21 MAY Night
Lt. Col Vishal Ahlawat

(Below Balcony)

"It was a moonlit night. The weather was not very good. So visibility was not very clear. We were following the footsteps of the people who were ahead of us. But we did come across two members, one female and the other male. The female member was sitting. The female member was Indian, most probably a Bengali. I asked her if she needed any help. She said she is too tired to walk. I told her to somehow walk down to Camp 4 as it wouldn't be possible for her to survive in these high altitudes for long.
But I am not sure about the nationality of the male climber, who was most probably dead as he didn't respond."

21 MAY Night
Sunita Hazra

(Below Balcony)

"I can't remember the sequences of events because I was losing my consciousness. I remember I asked for help from almost everyone who was passing by."

21 MAY Night
Trishala Gurung

(Near Balcony)

"I met five climbers... four were males and one was female. They were on their way down. Maybe they had reached the summit on 21st. They were quite late."

21 MAY 22:00
Lt. Col Vishal Ahlawat

(Below Balcony)

"I can't recollect the exact time but it was approximately after walking for around two hours from Camp 4 on 21st night (10:00-10:30pm), as we had taken a break after walking for an hour. It was slightly windy initially. When we had started out, strong winds were blowing. Light snowfall was there. But the weather conditions gradually improved with ascent.
We found her (Sunita) before reaching the Balcony."

21 MAY 22:30
Sudeb Hazra

[Sunita's husband] (Kolkata)

"Loben Sherpa called me saying "She is no more! ... We have tried our best ... but couldn't save her!""
Dipankar Ghosh (YSD representative for rescue operation at Kathmandu) also talked to me from Kathmandu. He said "There is no hope! Nothing left ... Can't give you false promises ...it's all finished! ""

21 MAY -
Kumari Nutan

(Below Balcony)

"On our way to the summit, we met one person before the balcony. He was lying on the rope and didn't have his gloves and oxygen mask on. Maybe his oxygen was over and therefore unable to breathe. He was taking his last breath. His jacket was orange/yellow in colour (possibly Goutam)."

21 MAY 23:00
Trishala Gurung

(Below Balcony)

"On my way up, first I met a male climber. I think it was around 11:00 pm much below the Balcony. He was digging something in the ice."

21 MAY -
Vishnu Rana Sherpa

(Below Balcony)

"I first came across a lady climber [Sunita], who appeared very tired. Then I came across another climber in her vicinity clinging to the rope [Subhas]. Below the Balcony I met another climber, who was in his last stage [Goutam]. Any moment he could pass away."

21 MAY 24:00
GCI Dolyne

(Below Balcony)

"We first came across a man, who was lying (around 12 am) much below the balcony. Initially I had thought he was lifeless. He didn't respond to anything but after that I observed him moving. He was almost about to breathe his last and probably he was on his way down from the summit. Yes, he was in a yellow jacket." (referring to Goutam)

21 MAY Night
Kumari Nutan

(Below Balcony)

"Yes, she (Sunita) was alone. She asked Vishal Sir to help her to descend. Vishal Sir sent a Sherpa to help her. I don't know what happened after that"

21 MAY Night
Lt. Col Vishal Ahlawat

(Below Balcony)

"She was alone. I don't remember having seen anyone with her. I felt she will be able to make the journey down to camp 4 by herself as the distance wasn't much and it was completely on the down slope."

21 MAY Night
Sunita Hazra

(Below Balcony)

"I lost my all energy to move a bit. I just gave up and was lying down. I remember I was much below the balcony and was close to Camp 4.
Finally, someone who was climbing up came to me and gave me his oxygen mask. He pulled me up and helped immensely to make me climb down. His Sherpa too helped a lot!
After some time, Subhas was found and that man helped Subhas to anchor him with me.
And I was not sure how long we continued. But I can remember we were searching for our tents."

21 MAY Night
Leslie Binns

[Climber from UK attempting Summit on 22nd May](Below Balcony)

"When I first encountered Sunita Hazra, I think she was being clipped in by one of the Sherpas. I believe she was trying to climb over an obstacle. I only saw a silhouette, as it was dark, so I don't really know what caused the next thing to happen.
Suddenly she comes sliding down the mountain towards me. It was a good job that I had clipped in just beyond anchor point. She is coming down towards me with no control over her descent.
Initially I wanted to try and help her, to get herself down the mountain on her own but a niggle in my head said that she was never going to be able to do to that. She had already undone her jacket (a common sign of cerebral oedema (CO)) as she thought she was red hot and overheating. Her gloves had come off her hands. She had these mittens on, but I am not sure whether she had taken them off to sort her carabiner out or taken them off. I zipped up her jacket, put her gloves back on, gave her some of my own oxygen, as her tank was registering empty. This seemed to pull her round. I clipped into her abseil device and we tried to set her off, on her own, down the mountain to camp 4 (7,950m (26,085ft). So I decided to wait there and see how well she did. The time now was around midnight. She was on the verge of collapsing and hitting the side of the mountain."

21 MAY Night
Leslie Binns

(Below Balcony)

"I was thinking, "Do we sit here until the storm passes. Alternatively, am I going to clip out of my carabiner and go and have a look around?"
The Sherpa is saying go one way and I am saying we should go the other. It was really dangerous out on that mountain that night.
And then the next thing I see is a figure in the distance, about 100 metres further down the mountain waving at us. "Fantastic."
"We can't be too far from the camp and this person is one of the rescue party."
So we pointed out feet down the mountain in his direction and using our crampons climb down to him.
It turns out he is in trouble too. He does not know where he is, where to go, he too is suffering from cerebral oedema, but I didn't know that at the time. The Sherpa had checked him out and he had a supply of oxygen. His name was Subas Paul.
So we scoop him up and all clip in together."

21 MAY Night
Trishala Gurung

(Below Balcony)

"After 11:00 pm on 21st night, I saw a female climber followed by a male climber and a Sherpa. [Leslie and sherpa] They were all on their way down."

21 MAY Night
Leslie Binns

(Below Balcony)

""Enough was enough," I said myself, "Binnsy, you have got to help her now. There is no way she is going to get down.".
That was when I abseiled down to her and made the decision to help her. There was at least a couple more hours of climbing down to get to the camp 4.
So I abseiled down to her. Got her oxygen off her and gave her a new tank from my supply. I sorted her out and turned the oxygen flow to 3 litres a minute. (Normally you climb at 1.5 to 2 litres a minute). The higher flow helps prevent frostbite. At this time, my Sherpa was with me.
So I clipped one carabiner into the fixed climbing line and one carabiner into Sunita. My Sherpa clipped into her as well. As we move down the mountain, it is hard going. It is like getting somebody home drunk from the pub. The only difference is that you are just doing it down the side of the mountain now in the pitch dark. We get so far down and the fixed line suddenly stops. We are facing an open traverse of about 30m where there is no fixed line. Then the fixed line starts again.
At this point, a near white out snow storm blows in making visibility almost impossible. The only way I can gauge my descent is by looking across to Lhotse which is about 8500 metres and judging my descent by that.
This spurred me on."

22 MAY 01:00
GCI Dolyne

(Below Balcony)

"As we continued further upwards we came across a lady (Around 1:00-2:00 am). She was on her way down. She was sliding down and didn't have any Oxygen with her. She was accompanied by a climber."

22 MAY Pre-Dawn
Leslie Binns

(Below Balcony)

"There is me leading, then Sunita, followed Subash and then my Sherpa. Subash is wailing and flapping his arms about. He was not taking his mask off to speak. He was going crazy.
So I thought to myself, "He is in trouble here and has cerebral oedema. We need to get him sorted fast".
Sunita and Subash kept on collapsing and we kept on trying to get them to stand up and keep moving.
It was extraordinarily tough and dangerous. There were these 4-5ft crevasses on our route down in the dark, which I kept dropping into up to my chest. It must have happened four or five times. It was so exhausting. I was verging on anger because of it, but that was fuelling me on. It was like there was another entity trying to stop me.
So I stopped for a minute to have a think and a rest. At which point, there is a break in the weather and my Sherpa decides to unclip and traverse across the slope to where the fixed rope should be 20-30 metres away. He leaves us to traverse across. He gets across, clips in and then stays put. I am shouting at him asking him to help us, but he does nothing. In the end, my Sherpa decides to descend on his own to Camp 4, leaving me on my own with these two very sick people. Bearing in mind, I have very limited climbing experience.
I decide, I am going to unclip us all now and get myself across the traverse to see if I could pull the fixed line over to the group. I do the traverse, but there is no flex in the rope at all when I get across to the other side. If I kept pulling, I was concerned I could snap that line and put everybody on the mountains lives in danger.
So I try different combinations with my harness and ropes to see if I could stretch across to the two ill climbers and clip them in. But there is no way. So I unclip and stagger back over the traverse to Sunita and Subash.
Suddenly we all slip and start to slide rapidly down the mountain. This was when I thought, "This is the end of you Binnsy, you have had it".
I could not see anything as I was falling. Sunita is falling, as well as Subas.
"That's it, wait for the silence as you fall over the edge of a cliff" I was thinking.
"That's it your life is done."
I was angry with myself that I had let myself into that situation.
I just remember screaming, "No, No, No, this can't be happening"."

22 MAY Pre-Dawn
Lt. Col Vishal Ahlawat

(Below Balcony)

"After that we crossed three climbers en route who were on their way back after summit. I don't know from which countries they belonged. We just exchanged a few pleasantries and continued along. We were using Oxygen while walking. So our speech was barely audible from outside. When we reached the balcony, we changed our oxygen cylinders."

22 MAY Pre-Dawn
Leslie Binns

(Below Balcony)

"I was thinking, "I hope to God that the others have stopped as well".
I picked myself up and looked up. Sunita had managed to stop 50m above and to the left of me and Subhas had his descent stopped by falling into a crevasse up to his waist. He was above and to the right of me. Both were about 50m away. Once I had dusted myself off it took me 5-10 minutes to climb back up to them.
I thought that this is the point that I have to choose who I am going to save. Who can I get down the mountain, as I cannot carry both down?
Subas was in such a state by now.
I went to Sunita first. She was nearest to the fixed line.
"Use your brain. Get her to the fixed line first."
Sunita could move. Poor Subash was lying on the ground, waving his arms about like a small child having a strop. I knew he had his downsuit on, he had oxygen and he was shouting and screaming, so I thought he wasn't as bad as Sunita if he still had the energy in him to scream and shout. He still had a chance.
I went back to Sunita and gave her the biggest telling off in my life. I slapped her about her legs. I picked her up, shook her. Anything to get some life into her. I reminded her of her family. I didn't know if she had kids.
"Think of your children."
If this didn't inspire her, I told her, "That I had a small daughter at home and was not going to die because of the situation we found ourselves in, because you can't put that little bit of effort to get off this f***king mountain".
She did register it for a few seconds. She stood up and traversed across to the fixed rope. The jubilation was unbelievable. We clipped in and she put her arms around my shoulders like a 'piggyback' and started to try to get her down the mountain.
I sadly left Subash. I was so exhausted by now. Bear in mind, I was still in the death zone on Everest. There was nothing more I could do for the moment.
We were coming down the mountain. I could see the end of the fixed rope I could see the camp. It was like Butlins it was that enticing.
I took a couple of gulps of oxygen and took my mask off. I am screaming for help, hoping that somebody from the other tents at Camp 4 would appear. I put the mask back on, took more oxygen and then took it off again to scream for help. Nobody came.
We are still slightly disorientated due to the darkness and poor visibility. I could still hear Subash up the mountain screaming his lungs out. I take Sunita to where I thought our tents were, which I had finally recognised from the organisation's badge on side of the tent.
I then scream out for my Sherpa who had left us up on the mountain. I assumed he went down to get help or did not think we were going to survive. I was really angry with him at the time and could not understand how he could leave us.
I got her into our tent. Took off her crampons and put her in my sleeping bag. It might sound stupid and I may have been too much of a gentleman, but I didn't think I should get into the bag with her. That might sound a bit crazy, but I didn't want to offend her and her culture. She was an Indian woman."

22 MAY Pre-Dawn
Sunita Hazra

(Camp-4)

"It was snowing at South Col which made it difficult to find out tents. The person who had rescued me and Subhas left us (possibly for searching his tent). I don't remember how long I was waiting out there... and I don't know why that time Subhas was not with me.... or I might not be able recognise him properly due to my unconsciousness. Finally, he came and took me to his tent. To my belief, Subhas got a shelter by then..
Inside his tent I found his Sherpa working hard to take care of me. They were doing their best to keep me warm, giving oxygen etc. My hands were frostbitten. I still didn't regain my consciousness. I don't remember what had happened exactly."

22 MAY 04:00
Paul Pottinger

(Camp-4)

"I never met either of them at the South Col after they returned. I think I was sound asleep in my tent when they came back. In the late afternoon or early evening I did hear a woman cry out in a foreign language several times from within camp, but she stopped soon thereafter, and my sense was that her cries for help in a tent were being answered. Then, much later, starting at approximately 4 AM, I heard a different voice cry out. A male voice, speaking a short sentence over and over, about once every fifteen seconds. It was a foreign language that I guessed was Hindi. I interpreted it as someone calling out to a friend. Because the voice sounded so close, I assumed it was an expedition member or guide from a different team calling out from camp to a friend in the night, guiding someone back in after a late return. It never occurred to me that this might in fact be a climber trying to make it back to camp that is how close he sounded. He (Subhas) continued to call out, again and again, hour after hour."

22 MAY 05:00
Pemba Sherpa

(Camp-4)

"Bishnu Gurung (Sunita's Sherpa), around 5:00 am at Camp 4 came to me and said that three of his clients had gone missing. Bishnu said, "We had to return back leaving them behind to open the down route.""

22 MAY 05:00
Paul Pottinger

(Camp-4)

"After sunrise, when I prepared to leave Camp 4, stepped outside the tent and realized that this was in fact a climber lying on the ice shelf immediately above camp, to climber's right of the route. My heart sank... This was someone who needed help! I saw someone there with him, whom I did not recognize, trying to assist him. I spoke with our guides from IMG and offered to assist with the rescue (I am a doctor and wilderness EMT), but they absolutely refused, and insisted that I descend with my Sherpa climbing partner Pasang Kami, and other teammates as previously arranged. I was so exhausted that I did not put up a fight."

22 MAY 05:00
Emily Johnston

(Camp-4)

"Most of our party slept at the South Col after summiting. I slept very soundly, and woke relatively early on the morning of the 22nd. My tent-mates and I noticed occasional shouts that were rhythmic and unintelligible, that sounded like they were coming from the other end of camp. Initially, it sounded like a party shouting to each other. As we got our food and tea, and began organizing for the descent, we listened more carefully. We noted that the shouts sounded like a single voice, and then they stopped. We got out of our tent to investigate, and saw what looked like a person lying in the snow about 150 meters outside camp, towards the triangular face. We geared up and walked over to investigate, bringing a first aid kit, and some oxygen. We found a man (Subhas) lying on his back on the ground, still attached to a fixed line, with his oxygen mask off. As we approached and called out to him, he began speaking in a language that I did not understand. His speech was slurred, and halting. We gave him medication for altitude sickness, and slid him as far as we could towards camp. When it flattened out and got rocky, we couldn't slide him anymore. With the aid of four people, we supported him, and walked him to his tent. I don't know when he came down to the point where we found him, but he was almost certainly out all night." (refer to Image-17)

Image-16: Paul Pottinger descending towards the top of the steep section of the Geneva Spur, just around the corner from the South Col. Steven Hess captured this image where two black spots have been captured in the background. [Courtesy: Steven Hess]

Image-17: A rescuer working to help bring Subhas back to Camp 4 (Zoomed view of the previous image) [Courtesy: Steven Hess]


22 MAY 05:00
Pemba Sherpa

(Camp-4)

"One Sherpa came to me and asked me, "Who is from Loben Expedition here? One lady called Sunita has been rescued to Camp 4". After indicating to their tent, I returned back to my tent and started descending with my team (Rudra Prasad Halder, Ramesh Roy, Satyarup Siddhanta and Malay Mukherjee)."

22 MAY Morning
Emily Johnston

(Camp-4)

"When we had headed out to check on the figure in the distance, our friends in camp began asking around to see who this person might be. They found his climbing party, and in the process, they came across Sunita Hazra. We brought the man to his tent (Image 19-24) where his guide and two sherpas had arranged sleeping bags for him. We all helped move him into the tent and get him in a sleeping bag. They had food, fuel, water and oxygen. One person was in the tent with him. We gave them medication for altitude sickness, and instructions on how to use it. We discussed the need for him to go down as soon as possible, and they agreed. They indicated that they had the resources they needed to help him. As it turned out, this man was Subash Paul."

22 MAY Morning
Sunita Hazra

(Camp-4)

"I came to learn that the person who had rescued me is from UK. His name is Leslie John Binns. In the early morning, they gave me hot water, tea, medicine etc.
After some time, a lady doctor came to the tent and checked my condition. She treated me with vital medicines. She gave me one bottle of oxygen too."

22 MAY Morning
Emily Johnston

(Camp-4)

"After getting him settled with his party, I went to Leslie Binn's tent and talked with Sunita Hazra. Mr. Binns had turned back on his own summit to help Sunita descend. He gave her oxygen, food, tea and gear to help save her. I talked with them, gave her medication for altitude sickness, and instructions on how to use it. We also discussed how important it was to go down as soon as possible. She was alert and interactive, sitting up, and asking appropriate questions. Mr. Binns was very attentive, and they appeared to have what they needed.
It's hard to do a complete examination in that environment, but it's likely that Subhas had high altitude cerebral edema(in addition to other problems) which was very dangerous. Sunita seemed alert, and appropriate, and given her symptoms it didn't seem as though she had cerebral edema, but she was definitely in danger. Leslie Binns almost certainly saved her life."

Image-18: Early in the morning Bishnu Gurung was seen sitting outside of Sunita's tent while NCC team leaving south Col to descend down to Camp-3 [Courtesy: A still from a video captured by NCC cadet]

22 MAY Morning
Sunita Hazra

(Camp-4)

"With much difficulty, IMG climbers and the Lessie's Sherpa together could find out our tent. I went to my tent... and found Subhas was inside the tent lying down. My Sherpa (Lakhpa, Pashang and Bishnu) got literally speechless on my appearance. They didn't expect me to be alive.
The condition of Subhas seemed unwell to me. Among the Sherpas,Lakhpa seemed to be ill."

22 MAY 06:30
Trishala Gurung

(South summit)

"We reached south summit around 6.30 am and on 22nd we reached summit around 8.30 am."

22 MAY 06:30
Debasish Biswas

(Camp-2)

"On 22nd, in the early morning, news came to Camp 2 that only Sunita is alive and was in critical condition, has been rescued to Camp 4."

22 MAY 07:30
Dipankar Ghosh

(Kathmandu)

"Buddhi (Basecamp Manager) called us saying two climbers (one male and one female) have reportedly been brought to Camp 4. Buddhi seemed to be confused that time. He even said that Goutam and Paresh too were coming down to Camp 4. Later he changed his statement."

22 MAY 07:30
Malay Mukherjee

(Camp-4)

"In the morning, we tried to find them (Sunita's team) out at South Col. But, unfortunately, we didn't see anyone from their team out there."

22 MAY 08:00
Vishnu Rana Sherpa

(Summit)

"I reached the summit on 22nd May at around 8 am."

22 MAY 08:45
Ramesh Ray

(Camp-4)

"By 8:45am we started to descend. We saw 4 foreigners trying to rescue someone. He was Subhas and he was not even in a condition to stand on his own feet. After having reached Camp 2 on 22nd, we got the news of his demise".

22 MAY 08:45
Rudra Prasad Halder

(Camp-4)

"By 8.45 am, we had left summit camp. We saw 6 foreigners carrying a man who seemed to be Subhas."

22 MAY 08:30
Malay Mukherjee

(Camp-4)

"I was preparing for my descent to Camp 3. Suddenly we saw a climber being brought to the camp. I started recording (photograph) that from distant (Refer to Image 19-24). I saw after a few moments that a portion of Indian national flag peeping out from his jacket (Refer Image-22).
I then recognised the climber as Subhas. He was in his last stage. I didn't see any other from his team. Moment after this incident I started descending down towards Camp 2."

Image-19: Subhas has been rescued to Camp-4 (8:53:38) [Courtesy: Malay Mukherjee]

Image-20: Subhas has been rescued to Camp-4 (8:54:14) [Courtesy: Malay Mukherjee]

Image-21: Subhas has been rescued to Camp-4 (8:54:54) [Courtesy: Malay Mukherjee]

Image-22: Subhas has been rescued to Camp-4 (8:54:58) [Courtesy: Malay Mukherjee]

Image-23: Subhas has been rescued to Camp-4 (8:55:38) [Courtesy: Malay Mukherjee]

Image-24: Subhas has been rescued to Camp-4 (8:56:28) [Courtesy: Malay Mukherjee]

22 MAY 10:30
GCI Dolyne

(Summit)

"By 10:30 am on 22nd May, we were split into two teams. The team in which Trishala was present had reached the summit earlier."

22 MAY 10:30
Sunita Hazra

(Camp-4)

"It was close to noon.
I was rationing my oxygen keeping it in mind that we might have to stay at Camp 4 for that night.
I requested Bishnu to send a rescue or arrange a team for searching Paresh and Goutam. Bishnu said that was impossible."

22 MAY 10:30
Sunita Hazra

(Camp-4)

"I tried once to go outside of my tent taking off the oxygen mask. I discovered one of my legs was not moving.
Meanwhile, communication to Basecamp was made and order came to come down to Camp 2 as early as possible. I don't know from whose walkie-talkie the communication was made. Bishnu said "We have to go down now."
I replied, "How can we move in this situation?" ... I was not in a position to walk even. The condition of Subhas was very serious. It was 1:00 pm already and weather had started deteriorating by then. The Sherpa team were certainly not going to help us in the route.
I argued with Bishnu to stay there for that night as we had some spare oxygen to survive there. I communicated with even the basecamp manager Buddhi explaining the situation. Buddhi was not in a position to listen to me and understand the situation. He said we had to descend as soon as possible. He did not assure any help from Base camp or any other camps.
I then had no option other than descending down ... and was wearing gears. It was around 1:30pm. Subhas started crying and was helpless. I was trying to convince him that Sherpas will take care of him."

22 MAY 11:00
Sudeb Hazra

(Kathmandu)

"Reached Kathmandu (With Joydip and Kingshuk) in order to bring the body of my wife.
But after reaching there, I realized that there was no valid information available to Loben Sherpa Agency from Basecamp about Sunita and her team."

22 MAY 12:30
Dipankar Ghosh

(Kathmandu)

"After several confusing news, first we had the clear news around 12:30 that Subhas and Sunita are alive and they are at Camp 4."

22 MAY 13:00
GCI Dolyne

(Above Camp-4)

"We first met a foreigner just below the Balcony. (Midway between Balcony and Camp 4). His oxygen cylinder had got trapped between the rocks. I helped him out and continued downwards. Next, we came across a lifeless body (around 1:00 pm). He was wearing a yellow jacket." (Goutam)

22 MAY 14:30
Sunita Hazra

(Camp-4 to Camp-3)

"At around 2:30pm, we started descending towards Camp 3. Weather was bad. I overtook Subhas (who was accompanied by Bishnu Gurung and Lakhpa) after some time. It started snowing just before the Geneva Spur. All the ropes were buried into the snow. I used my crampon to dig out the ropes to descend. For safety reason I used double anchor.
My hands were frostbitten. I Was exhausted since I had not taken food for last two days. To make the situation worst, I suddenly fell down from the rope and my wrist got broken. What else I could do! But, I Know, I have to be alive. I had to do it for my son!
Pashang was behind me. He was in a hurry. I let him to go down...and he just got vanished. To my belief he thought that I would die within hours. I found nobody out there. I cried, tried to motivate myself by continuously shouting at me... It was a battle... and I have to win it... don't know what would come next... and I was ready to face that. Those who know Camp 3 route near yellow band can only understand the situation."

22 MAY Morning
Lt. Col Vishal Ahlawat

(Below Balcony)

"On the way down I found one climber (Paresh) lying on the snow but not along the track. He was lying 20 metres away from the track. He wasn't a very tall guy and was thin. His height was around 5 feet 5-6 inches. It is very unfortunate that no one stopped to ask him if he needed any assistance. I decided to go and check on him. He was in a partial sitting position when I found him. Yes, he was alive. I went and talked to him. He said his legs were very weak and partly senseless and not in a position to walk. He also informed that he is from Bengal. I told two of my Sherpas to go and assist him. They carried him over to one of our tents in Camp 4."

22 MAY Afternoon
Trishala Gurung

(Above Camp-4)

"On 22rd, on my way down, I met just the 5th person. He was dead. [Goutam]. I didn't find the 4th one, the lady and the Sherpa by then.
1st person (who was digging something on the ice) was still there. He was alive. We tried to bring him down but he could not walk. He was already struck with snow blindness and frostbite. We asked some Sherpas help him. Sherpas went up and brought him down to South Col."

22 MAY Afternoon
Kumari Nutan

(Above Camp-4)

"On our way down, we met a climber few metres above south Col. He was affected by altitude sickness."

22 MAY 12:30
Dipankar Ghosh

(Kathmandu)

"Loben said that, Subhas and Sunita were on their way to down Camp 3."

22 MAY Evening
Vishnu Rana Sherpa

(Below Balcony)

"While descending I again met the climber below the Balcony. He was dead [Goutam]. I came across another climber, whose Oxygen supply was almost exhausted. Dr. Rastogi of our team was attending to many of the fatigued climbers. He was affected with snow blindness and frost bite. (Most probably Paresh). I along with the help of another Sherpa brought him down."

22 MAY Night
GCI Dolyne

(Above Camp-4)

"When we were about to reach Camp 4 on 22nd, we saw a climber sitting slightly upwards. He was behaving very weirdly, trying to dig something in the ice. Our Sherpa brought him to our camp and gave him soup. Our Sherpa informed us that he was affected by snow blindness as a result of which his eyes had swollen to a huge extent. He was not even able to hold on to the bowl of soup and it fell from his hands."

22 MAY -
Trishala Gurung

(Camp-4)

"No I didn't have any information about her (Sunita) when we reached Camp 4."

22 MAY Night
Sunita Hazra

(Camp-4 to Camp-3)

"Moonlight came. It was continuously snowing and my fight was still on. I was staggering ... there was no energy left in me. My oxygen had finished long back.
Once my descender had gone. Then I was sliding down...sometimes crawling to cross Yellow Band.
I kept using my crampon to arrest myself from sliding. I only know I have to be alive! Somehow extra snow helped me to cross the rock surface at yellow band!
I found lights from Camp 3. I slowly was approaching our tents.
Suddenly there was a call from behind!
I turn around and saw Bishnu (with Lakhpa) to come alone.
I stood up ... was shattered ... slowly I went on asking "Where is Subhas?"
He replied "Shubhash stayed back at Geneva Spur ..!"
My system was stopped for a while! I was shocked... devastated! After some time, he asked a question "Where is Pashang by the way?"
I murmured... saying "He left me long back!"
When I finally got inside the tent saw Pashang was lying down there. I was not angry on him! Rather bit of sympathised on him...I thought he has reason to left me as I too was about to die and he is a human being.
That night was a painful night! With heartfelt pain it was difficult to accept what I have went through...didn't have the answer was it necessary to come back alive leaving other three behind! Broken absolutely!"

23 MAY Morning
GCI Dolyne

(Camp-4)

"At South Col, the person (Paresh) who has been rescued was not even able to hold on to the bowl of soup and it fell from his hands."

23 MAY Morning
Trishala Gurung

(Camp-4)

"We had given him (Paresh) soup and coffee and within minutes he passed away."

23 MAY Morning
Vishnu Rana Sherpa

(Camp-4)

"Due to paucity of Oxygen he passed away the next morning."

23 MAY Morning
Lt. Col Vishal Ahlawat

(Camp-4)

"On the morning of 23rd they informed me that he (who we had rescued last night) had passed away in the night." [Paresh]

23 MAY 05:30
Sudeb Hazra

(Kathmandu)

"News came from Basecamp that Sunita is alive. I am told that health condition of Sunita is severe! She neither talked nor walked. At any moment she can expire!
Rescue helicopter was ready from BC. Then I was asked to give the permission to them to winch her. And I gave the permission
."

23 MAY Morning
Sunita Hazra

(Camp-3)

"In the morning I saw Mingma Tamang (Paresh's Sherpa who had no trace beyond Camp 4) coming out from Camp-2. I was told to go down quickly to the crampon point (The point where climbers start using crampon to climb towards Camp-3) so that rescue heli can winch me. But I refused. Though my hands had almost stopped working, I couldn't rely on any Sherpa anymore!"

23 MAY Morning
Sudeb Hazra

(Kathmandu)

"After half an hour, I am informed that Sunita herself refused to be winched. I was stunned! How come a person in that state (severe condition) was able to take such decision! Later I learned that she wanted to climb down (alone) to Camp-2 at her own risk."

23 MAY Morning
Vishnu Rana Sherpa

(Camp-4 to Camp-3)

"On 23rd May, on the way down from the Camp 4, I came across a climber, presumably Subhas."

23 MAY Morning
GCI Dolyne

(Camp-4 to Camp-3)

"While descending on 23rd from Camp 4, we came across another dead body which was completely covered in snow."

23 MAY Morning
Sunita Hazra

(Towards Camp-3)

"Lakhpa and Pashang had gone first. I was descending through blue ice. I started realizing the current state of my family and the families of those who won't comeback alive!"

23 MAY Morning
GCI Dolyne

(NA)

"While coming down from Base Camp, I did hear a Nepali man from our team asking a Nepali man from the Bengal team's agency about the reason behind the tragedy. The man, Bishnu Bahadur from our team seemed quite displeased with the man from their agency and held him accountable for the damage."

23 MAY -
Major Deepika Rathore

(NA)

"Sherpas had claimed that all the climbers were walking very slowly. Their pace was not up to the mark. I think the Sherpas were not supportive at all because of which they might have deserted the climbers."

23 MAY Morning
Lt. Col Vishal Ahlawat

(Camp-4 to Camp-3)

"In the morning, I wasn't feeling very fit myself as I had completed the ascent and descent without oxygen since having crossed the balcony. On 23rd morning we reached Camp 3. A blood clot had formed in my vein due to lack of Oxygen. Since I had stopped using the Oxygen cylinder after having crossed the balcony, my body didn't get sufficient time to get acclimatized to breathing in such low Oxygen conditions. From yellow band I had to be rescued and brought down to Camp 2. Very next morning I was flown to Kathmandu via helicopter and from there to India."

23 MAY Morning
Sunita Hazra

(Towards Camp-2)

"Just before Camp-2, rescue heli came and took me to the basecamp."

23 MAY -
Naba Kumar Phukan

(Basecamp)

"One Australian informed me that four Indians were sleeping near balcony without any Sherpa. And I'm quite sure that the disaster had occurred due to the negligence of the Sherpa. I had a long chat with Goutam at camp-2 on 18th morning and I learned from him that they were worried about their Sherpa staff."

23 MAY -
Paul Pottinger

"Although I never properly met these climbers, I feel so sorry for their loss. I sense that their deaths could have been prevented, but at this point it does not matter."

Presently:
Goutam: Somewhere on the Triangular face below the Balcony, anchored to the rope.
Paresh: South Col (Possibly inside a tent).
Subhas: Remains were recovered and brought home after post-mortem at Kathmandu and cremated.
Sunita: Lost the terminal phalanx of the left little finger and has re-joined her job.

Note: Loben's Agency (Trekking Camp Nepal)
   (1) Loben was interviewed (But he was based in Kathmandu)
   (2) Buddhi (Base Camp Manager) was also interviewed.
   (3) Other four climbing Sherpas could not be contacted in spite of repeated attempts.

Image-25: At the Base camp (20th April, 2016)

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