In General

Endearing Tale of a Failed Mt.Everest Attempt

I’ve looked on with pride at Gautam Patil’s attempt of climbing the top 7 highest mountains in the World. When I heard that his Mt.Everest attempt failed because of a rib fracture and blindness in one eye, my heart went out to him.

I got this communique from Gautam’s team and well worth a read.

Gautam Patil, returned home from the UN endorsed Everest Peace Climb. With the death count on the North Side at an all time high, taking the lives of 9 climbers, the Everest Peace Climb successfully summited 10 of the 22 members. Patil wrestled Mt. Everest for two grueling months and reached a high point between Camp 4 & Camp 5, 23K & 25K feet respectively, but was forced to return due to severe trauma.

Patil became cursed with the “Khumbu cough,” a dry high altitude cough that was so violent it left his ribs cracked. He may have infuriated the gods some more and wound up with retinal hemorrhages in both eyes. In his right eye, a rare injury affected the macula and blocked central vision. Despite these injuries, he continued his tenacious battle, day in and day out, up to 25K feet in the biting -40C temperature of Mt. Everest for 7 weeks.

He reached a high-point between Camp 4 & Camp 5, 23,000 & 25,000 feet respectively but Doctors from two other teams – a British Team and an Indian Army Team, persuaded Patil to call it off. The British Doctor Jonathan Salter said, “Imagine this – you lost vision in your right eye, what if you had gone higher in these conditions and lost vision in the other eye too?” Apart from a possibility of losing vision, the fractured ribs made it too painful to continue above camp 5 where, armed with oxygen tanks, one must pull on ropes to ascend. Several options were discussed including the usage of Codeine to numb his body from the pain but none seemed tenable.

Patil is now looking forward to his continued recovery and getting ready to deliver motivational talks at various corporate venues including Franklin Templeton. He is an unlikely mountaineer for he is a genetic carrier of Beta Thalassemia Minor ? his blood carries less than normal oxygen. So when he says about high mountains “If I can do it, anyone can,” he means it.

As India’s leading mountaineer, Patil has racked up several firsts. Patil has not only climbed six of the seven summits ? Mt Kosciuszko (Australia 2006), Vinson Massif (Antarctica 2006), Denali (North America 2003), Aconcagua (South America 2001), Elbrus (Europe 2000) and Kilimanjaro (Africa 1998). He is India’s first to have climbed Vinson, Denali, Aconcagua, and Elbrus.