Americans rescue Spanish climbing team while ascending Lhotse

Posted By: The Ski Channel on June 21, 2011 10:58 am

Nepal’s Lhotse Peak, the fourth-highest mountain on earth at 27,890 feet, is one of skiing’s last great unclaimed prizes. Jamie Laidlaw and Kris Erickson’s attempted first descent of Lhotse Peak this spring did not yield the history they hoped it would.

On May 25, before ascending Lhotse, Laidlaw and Erickson were invloved in a draining rescue of a Spanish climbing team.

“We both knew it might have a serious impact on our trip, but we had to do it,” he said of rescuing the Spanish climbers, who were climbing without oxygen. Patagonian guides Willie and Damian Benegas helped collect the Spanish members, and Laidlaw and Erickson made two trips to meet and transport the men, according to ESPN.

Then, while they rested at a camp roughly 25,250 feet in altitude, Laidlaw realized that his cough had transformed into  high-altitude pulmonary edema, or H.A.P.E., a potentially fatal condition that he had faced in 2007. Although Erickson was still healthy, he and Laidlaw descended Lhotse almost immediately. Laidlaw and Erickson had skied almost the entire Lhotse Face, starting from higher than 24,000 feet. This would be the second time Laidlaw was forced to abandon his attempt to ski Lhotse; his first attempt was in 2007. Laidlaw is unsure whether he will return to Lhotse for a third attempt.

For a video and complete story on ESPN.com, click here.

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