Big thanks to Backcountry Access for sponsoring this avalanche education content. Check out the additional plethora of avalanche safety resources on their website.
I was saddened to hear just a short time ago that the Dynafit Double8 expedition has experienced a grievous tragedy. Two of the climber/skiers were making a summit attempt and were caught in an avalanche yesterday (Sept 24). Sabastian “Basti” Haag and Andrea Zambaldi were killed. Expedition members Benedict “Beni” Bohm and Ueli Steck are fine; they were not caught in the slide.
I’d skied a bit with Basti a few years ago during a Europe trip, and seen him a few times since. He was always a happy and spirited guy who seemed to love just being out in the mountains. Our hearts go out to Basti’s good friend Beni, and Basti’s family. We do not know Andrea but of course offer our sympathies nonetheless.
Dynafit offical information from their website, lightly edited and condensed.
“The afternoon of 23.09.2014 at 16:30, Benedikt Boehm (37) and Ueli Steck (38) started from Basecamp (5.600m) for a summit attempt of a speed ascent on Shisha Pangma 8013m. The plan was to reach the summit in the morning of the 24.09.2014, together with the team mates Sebastian Haag (36), who was starting from Camp 1 (6.300m) and Andrea Zambaldi (32) who started from Camp 2 (6.800m).
Benedikt and Ueli met Basti Haag at C1 (6.300m) as planned at 20:00 and paired up. At the same time Andrea Zambaldi left from C2 (6.800m). All climbers paired up below C3, at approx. 7.100m at 01:00 on 24.09.2014, reaching C3 (7.300m) at exactly 02:00.
The team had to continuously break trail through rough conditions. At 06:50 the team was only one hundred vertical meters below the summit. At 06:55 Sebastian and Andrea were caught in an avalanche at 7.900m, 100m below the summit and were dragged for 600m vertical, over steep glaciers, into another section of the mountain.
Benedikt and Ueli immediately called basecamp for help and assistance, while descending to C3 in order to traverse to the avalanche zone and search for the two climbers. They tried to reach the avalanche deposition for more than four hours, but turned around due to there being no access. Sebastian and Andrea disappeared with the avalanche and their bodies could not be found.
Our deep sympathy is with the families and friends of Sebastian and Andrea.”
|Myself with Sabastian “Basti” Haag (right) in Austria, 2008|