Members of the Belize Disaster and Rescue Response Team are fighting to save lives, at 18,000 feet on the glacier leading to K2, the World’s most dangerous mountain in northern Pakistan.
Walter Santos and Lynwen Griffiths, both members of the Belize Disaster and Rescue Response team, were selected to join a multi national medical response team to escort a National Geographic / NASA science team to K2, located in the Himalayan Mountain range in northern Pakistan.
On their trek up the glacier to the K2 range, they found themselves, as well as up to 12 other international expeditions engulfed in one of the most fierce storms of the decade. Reports from the expedition via satellite phone have informed us that up to 100 persons have died this season during attempts to reach the mountain. Many of these deaths have been caused by altitude sickness and sudden storms, with temperatures during the day reaching close to 100°F. and as low as minus 20°F. at night. High temperatures during the days have caused many of the ice walls along the glacier route to collapse into the valley below were the expeditions are trekking causing havoc and mayhem.
“There is a constant cracking of ice all around us, day and night. I am awoken many times throughout the night to the jolts of the ice cracking. We are waiting for the moment that we are simply swallowed by the cracking glaciers, expecting to disappear forever, it’s horrifying,” says Walter Santos via satellite phone.
The medical team, while trapped by the storm, has been reaching out to other expeditions much worse off than themselves. At last report, The Belize Disaster and Rescue Response Team members are responsible for administering life saving medical attention, saving dozens of lives of other international expedition members.
“We have come across some expeditions who are already low on food, we have been sharing some of our own food with them to bring them back to health. Many members of other expeditions have suffered from altitude sickness and we have utilized our equipment to save their lives” Walter went on to report.
One piece of this equipment is the Gamow Bag used to wrap up the persons with altitude sickness, then pumped up the device to bring their bodies back down to a lower altitude pressure. The bag can simulate altitude down to 6000' by the pressure it provides. This device was purchased by our Medical team in case of altitude sickness for themselves, but has been used instead to save the lives of over 40 others suffering from altitude sickness and trapped in the storm.
Every Member of this 15 member Medical Rescue Team has been trained by the Belize Disaster and Rescue Response Team.
Reports are that almost 100 persons have died altitude sickness and in the storms this year alone but right now, Belize is there saving lives.
This K2 expedition has been sponsored in part by Ian Anderson, Belize Diesel (Toyota), The Belize Tourist Board, Caves Branch Jungle Lodge, N.A.S.I.G., AdventuresInBelize.com and various individual donors, however, any other donations to support our team would be gratefully received. Contact via email: [email protected]
(Story submitted by Ian Anderson from Caves Branch Jungle Lodge.)