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Another failed rescue attempt on Kangchenjunga
11:51 a.m. EDT May 26, 2003
Today a chopper reached Kangchenjunga BC only to fly in circles for a few minutes and then head back to Kathmandu. The spark of hope faded as the climbers saw the helicopter disappear in the clouds. The Russian pilot later said that it was some kind of technical problem that prevented him from landing. Once again it was a civilian helicopter that tried to evacuate the injured climbers, instead of a more capable military chopper. It was never dispatched because of unfinished paperwork! Meanwhile, Carlos Pauner is in grave danger of losing fingers to frostbite if he doesn’t make it to Spain immediately – time is running out. Doctors had given him a previous deadline of Sunday to get back to Spain for there to be a chance of saving his fingers.

This afternoon a military chopper was finally cleared to take part in the rescue and will take off tomorrow morning at 4am. Military choppers are much more rugged than the civilian ones and stand a better chance landing in difficult weather conditions. Now another problem has arisen, locating the climbers. At 2pm local time the climbers stared to go down the glacier leaving all their equipment back in BC. They are trying to reach a shed (yak house) located outside the small village of Ramche where it is easier for the chopper to land. Carlos is in bad shape and will have to be carried.

From the time when they left BC there has been no communication with the team. The prepaid card on their sat phone has run out meaning they can only receive calls. Thuraya has been contacted, however, they said it takes three days for the money to go through to recharge the card. Despite being told of the rescue situation, they refused to give an advance. This must be Thuraya’s way of pushing traffic to its competitors.

Idel, Silvio's wife has been trying to reach the team every 5 minutes the last six hours without success. They are probably out of coverage on the glacier, she says, but if they reach their destination the helicopter will find them. If not, the chopper crew might have a difficult time locating them.

Carlos Pauner and Silvio Mondinelli summited Kangchenjunga on the 20th, but Carlos disappeared while descending, never arriving back in Camp III, 7600m. Just when all hope was lost, Carlos arrived in base camp after being at high altitude in bad weather for three days without shelter, food, or water. He survived, but has severely frostbitten fingers and is in danger of loosing them if he doesn't get back to Spain immediately. Silvio Mondinellie also had frostbite, but not as severe as Carlos’


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