Monday, July 21, 2008

Rescue on Broad Peak

A bunch of new dispatches coming this week from Dave Watson and the K2 Tall Mountain Expedition in Pakistan. The wires have been quiet for a little while following a scary fall and injury to Dan McCann, one of the skiers on the trip. Dan is safe and healing following a rescue pretty high on the mountain by the rest of his teammates. We’re wishing safe travel in the mountains for all of them. Here’s the July 6th post from Dave on

On July 3, Linda received a call from Chuck about 11 am EST. “How’s it going?” she asked. “Not good,” he responded.

They were at base camp and in the middle of a rescue scenario. Dan McCann took a fall on Broad Peak and sustained serious injuries. He fell about 500 m (1,500 ft.) and stopped on one of the few patches of soft snow on the mountain – 50 m (150 ft.) from a 3000 ft. drop off the side of the mountain. Chuck, Dave and Andy managed a high altitude rescue of Dan, lowering him some 3000 ft off the mountain, no small feat, when every snow anchor has to safely sustain a working rescue load. The accident happened around noontime, and they were back in base camp by about 7pm.

There, they were met by a doctor from the Iranian expedition who helped to take care of his injuries. It appears that he has injuries to his arm and ankle and possibly some ribs, lacerations on the face and arms, but no life-threatening injuries. A helicopter airlift was scheduled for the next morning to evacuate Dan to Skardu.

The team was up again after a few hours sleep to prepare the Landing Zone for the helicopter and share some time together while they waited for the helicopter to arrive.

The logistics for the evacuation couldn’t have gone any better. He was off the mountain and on his way to more medical help in less than 24 hrs. The Global Rescue Service, with help from Karakorum Magic Mountains, managed to get him on one of the two flights each week (weather permitting) out of Skardu and then the same (or next) day on to Islamabad, where he received more medical assistance at a hospital. The last news was that flights were being arranged back to the states for the following day.

After a day of packing Dan’s personal belongings to send out with porters for shipment back to the USA, the team was formulating plans for their next steps. Another day of rest was needed by all, so the plan was to go back up Broad Peak the day after that, weather permitting. They have established an advanced base camp at Camp 1 with the help of the high altitude porter. They will climb toward Camp 2 (6,200 meters) and then return to Camp 1 to spend the night to acclimatize and start to work their way up the mountain. If the mountain doesn’t feel right, they will retreat to base camp and move on to K2. If everyone feels strong and the weather cooperates, they will continue the climb on Broad Peak.

At Chuck’s request, Linda contacted Brian Block, the fifth team member planning to join up for the K2 portion of the expedition, to inform him of the situation. He expressed his concern for Dan and also confirmed that he will not be joining the team due to exciting work opportunities. At his point, he would have to fly on the 5th of July and return by August 4th for a work commitment, leaving only12-14 days on K2, which… would be nice for trekking but not realistic for climbing the peak.

Click on the K2 Tall Mountain label to see all the dispatches from Dave's trip:

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1 comment:

Josh Rose said...

On behalf of the team at Global Rescue, we are glad that Dan is doing well. Dan became a member of Global Rescue after learning about our worldwide response capabilities. Global Rescue provides field rescue and medical evacuation services to individuals, families, corporations, associations, sports teams, and government agencies around the world.

We were first contacted by Sat phone just after Dan fell. Our Operations Hotline is staffed 24-hours a day by experienced paramedics. The rest of Dan's team, in conjunction with a physician from another team, did an excellent job getting Dan back to Base Camp where he met the helicopter Global Rescue sent for him.

In addition to utilizing a local helicopter service, Global Rescue also dispatched one of our field paramedics to meet Dan in Islamabad, based on the description of Dan's injuries. We knew right away that Dan had suffered a serious fall and had the potential for some serious injuries requiring both immediate stabilization and continued in-patient care. The field paramedic we dispatched happened to be a former Navy SEAL / military 18-Delta combat medic very experienced in mountain rescue. The paramedic was to serve as an on-the-ground liaison for Dan in Islamabad, overseeing the initial care while Global Rescue made arrangements for the medical evacuation home.

As you've probably heard, Dan is a lucky man and his wounds were superficial. Dan actually met up with our paramedic in Pakistan and decided that our services were not necessary, choosing instead to return home on his own. It's important to note that if Dan did require hospitalization, Global Rescue would have provided a complete medical evacuation, via medically-equipped private jet if necessary, back to Dan's choice of hospital within his home country. Our members have the benefit of fully-paid field rescue, medical evacuations, and best-in-class medical advice from experts at Johns Hopkins any time they are more than 160 miles from home.

For mountaineering enthusiasts, a Global Rescue Membership is just as critical a piece of equipment as crampons or an ice-axe. That's why Global Rescue is the official emergency evacuation provider for groups such as the American Alpine Club and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Teams.

To learn more about Global Rescue and enroll in a membership, visit us online at, or call us at 1-800-381-9754.

Safe Travels,

Josh Rose, Director of Member Services
Global Rescue