Tough as nails


This is the wife of a tough man. She is pretty tough herself.

The photo is a rushed shot as I was basically late. The helicopter took two days to come, but I was late when it did. So, a snap of a tough man’s wife in her waiting position with two flasks of tea. In the background, a helicopter taking off with a ‘kitchen boy’ (perhaps in his late 40s) with broken ribs and a 65000 dollar paying client with a couple of frost bitten digits.

The shadow lurking in the background is Dr Jeph, the doctor of the two patients’ expedition.

I have forgotten the name of both patients. I think the man who broke his ribs is called Tsorten or something similar. He was working as, tells Jeph, a ‘kitchen boy’ – his reverse pejorative term – and I guess it means general all rounder with a large bias towards load carrying. With such a load, a big one, he was decending to basecamp through the ice-fall. On bending down to clip into the fixed (safety) rope lying on the snow, his overly tall load toppled him into the crevasse infront of him before his clip was on the rope. He fell 20-30m and landed on his back on a snow bridge. Subsequently rescued he was carried down to basecamp in a basket, although the story goes he got out to walk the last 3 minutes to save face – same on leaving basecamp, painfully walking until the tents were out of view.

For a couple of nights he stayed in the lodge waiting for a helicopter to take him to hospital, pneumonia was a worry. It was interesting to watch him sitting snoozing in a corner of the warm room in the lodge. As breath went in and out of his mouth, his left side remained still, not lifting. A respiratory limp I suppose. Although pain would come with every chest movement, even although he’d been given a good amount of morphine, he never complained or showed the pain on his face.

I am sure I saw his wife wipe a tear away as the helicopter rose above its dustcloud – such injuries would normally be very serious in a remote environment. But now the client and the employee were safely off to Kathmandu to get repaired and both, with time, will be ok.

Oh, and this ‘kitchen boy’ has reportedly summitted Everest several times as well as other high peaks in the area. Tough as nails. 

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