Tragedy at Camp 3

On Sunday morning as I was preparing to descend from a sleepless night at Camp 3 I was faced with a horrible tragedy that has left me angry, scared and confused. Da Rita Sherpa, a father of two from Phortse with an infectious smile, passed away despite our desperate attempts to save him. Although initially I was convinced that it was a result of pulmonary edema, the rapid onset suggests that it was more likely to have been a heart issue.

From IMG’s Eric Simonson,

"IMG has lost a member of our Sherpa family today. DaRita Sherpa from Phortse reportedly spent the night at Camp 3 without any problems. In the morning he was up, had breakfast, was fully dressed, boots on, preparing to descend back down to Camp 2 when he suddenly felt dizzy. He lay down in the tent and stopped breathing, and despite CPR efforts by his teammates, died. The HRA doctors at Base Camp think that this was probably either a sudden cardiac or cerebral event.

His remains were evacuated by sked stretcher by the IMG Sherpa team to Camp 2, from where they were flown by helicopter to Base Camp. At Base Camp his father-in-law Dasona and brother-in-law Mingma Tsering got onboard the helicopter and flew with his remains to Phortse, where the family will do the puja for him. Da Rita was 37 years old and is survived by his wife and two children. He was an Everest summiter and veteran of many expeditions including three with IMG. The whole IMG Team is very sad today after the loss of our good friend and great teammate.”

At this point I don’t have much to say regarding the situation other than the fact that over the past few days I’ve come very close to calling it quits. It could have just as easily been me, and for what? These Sherpa risk their lives everyday so assholes like myself can search for meaning and self-worth in one of the most dangerous environments on the planet. It’s pathetic. And despite knowing this and hating every ounce of it, I’m going to continue on. I’m afraid that if I run away now I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. The pull is just too strong.

So here we are back at base camp, getting our minds and bodies situated while we wait for the jet stream to lift off the summit of Everest enabling us a short window to “ring the bell.” I was informed yesterday that I’ll be a member of the first summit team, meaning that I will likely be leaving sometime in the next few days to get in position. In the meantime I’ll be obsessively finagling with my gear and oxygen systems. Much love to you all from EBC.


***At some point over the next week IMG will be setting up a donation page for Da Rita’s family. I’ll share this with you all once it is made available.