after the avalanche, Dr Goh (standing in front) and the Sherpas are
running downhill. (The arrows indicate the direction of the avalanche.)
Picture by Edwin Siew
3 man Singapore
Expedition without oxygen expedition (Climbers
Robert Goh, Lim Kim
Boon and Edwin Siew)
Everest Base Camp (5,400m) 7 May
Singapore Mountaineer Dr.
Robert Goh narrowly escaped with his life yesterday morning when an avalanche
crashed down on him at 6,800m.
He and team mate, Singaporean
Everest summiter Edwin Siew, were climbing during their final acclimatization
cycle before their bid to summit Everest without oxygen. The men are part of
the three-man team on the Premier Taxis Singapore Everest Expedition 2005
The incident happened when
Dr. Goh, 39, reached the bottom of the Lhotse Face, a steep 800m-high slope of
blue ice covered by snow after four days of heavy snowfall.
“I heard a rumble and when I
looked up at the Face I saw a curtain of snow and ice falling right on me,” he
said. “I immediately crouched down and tucked my head in. Luckily, I had my
helmet on because I felt several knocks on the helmets, which were probably
chunks of ice.
“In a minute or two, I was
half buried up to my chest. I knew that if I did nothing, I’d be buried alive.
So I jumped up and ran downhill with the flow of the avalanche, which was one
of the ways of avoiding being buried.
“I ran for about 20m which
was really tough because I was wearing crampons and we were at high altitude.
I didn’t dare look behind until the rumble died down.
“Only then did I stop running
and took a peek behind. I saw a big pile of snow which filled up a huge
crevasse, and the Sherpas running away from the avalanche.”
He then saw that Mr. Siew,
35, who was some distance downhill putting on his crampons, was unscathed and
video-taping the aftermath.
Some of the Sherpas who were
higher up the Lhotse Face also took a direct hit from the falling snow. They
would have been swept away had they not been clipped into the fixed rope.
Dr. Goh, a research
scientist, and Mr Siew, head of training at Outward Bound School, then
descended to Camp 2 where they are now resting.
“We are waiting for suitable
conditions before going up again to acclimatize up to Camp 4 without oxygen,”
said Dr. Goh. “Once we have done that we will be ready for the summit bid.”
As for the near-death
experience, he said: “I was quite shaken after it happened. Ed and I were
speechless for the rest of the day. But these things happen in mountaineering.
I have to push it out of my mind and not let it distract me from the task
Crossing the Khumbu Icefall, Nepal
National University of Singapore
2005 Everest Expedition team. Click the picture
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