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German doctor wants to help Sherpa families in the long term


Matthias Baumann in the Khumbu Icefall

Matthias Baumann in the Khumbu Icefall

18 April has changed many things: on Mount Everest, in the lives of the families of the 16 avalanche victims – and also for Matthias Baumann. The 42-year-old trauma surgeon from the German town of Esslingen was the expedition doctor in the team of the Argentine twin brothers Damian and Willie (Guillermo) Benegas and actually wanted to climb Everest in his second attempt, on the Nepalese south side. In 2011, his first attempt on the Tibetan north side had failed at 8600 meters: When he wanted to change his oxygen bottle at the Second Step, the key point of the normal route, Matthias realized that his Sherpa had packed an empty instead of a full bottle.

Three years later, this spring, Baumann climbed through the Khumbu Icefall, on the day before the avalanche. “I knew that avalanches had been coming down from the West Shoulder of Everest for four or five years. Up there, the seracs are threatening”, Matthias told me. Even if the fun at climbing gained the upper hand, the respect remained. “I was always looking up to the seracs.” On the following day, the Khumbu Icefall became a death trap for 16 Nepalese climbers. With other physicians, the German doctor took care of the injured climbers who were brought down to the base camp. After the end of the expedition Matthias visited almost all the families of the Nepalese who had lost their lives – and launched a fundraiser for them.


15. May 2014 | 14:49



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