Accident and successful rescue on North Shukpa Kunchang glacier

This is an update about the accident and successful rescue of Mr. Andy Parkin, member of the Indian British joint expedition to the Eastern Karakoram, sponsored by the Himalayan Club.

The expedition began from the Nubra valley in the last week of July 2013 and entered Sakang Lungpa valley. Subsequently they followed Sakang glacier and crossed Sakang col (6100 m) located on the southern flanks of Plateau Peak and descended to North Shukpa Kunchang glacier in the Shyok valley. They were attempting various peaks in the area.

In the early hours of 15 August 2013, an avalanche hit their high camp on the glacier. Andy Parkin’s tent was uprooted because of the force created by the wind blast and it was carried inside a nearby crevasse 30 m deep. Fortunately Andy could extricate himself and called for help. Unfortunately he received back injury and several other injuries. His team mates pulled him out and gave him possible first aid.

In the afternoon of 15 August 2013, we received the first call from the team asking for air-evacuation of Andy as he was not in a position to walk because of his back injuries. Crossing back over the Sakang col with the casualty was out of question as the route includes scaling an almost vertical wall 450 m high.

We (me, Motup and Yangdu) immediately started the necessary procedures. 15 August being national holiday, we could not reach any Indian Officials to facilitate the process. We contacted our President Brig. Ashok Abbey to help us in our efforts.

On 16 August by late evening we could complete all the formalities. By the time the weather turned bad and the helicopters were not able to take off. By this time Andy was brought down by his team mates to a campsite at 5600 m located on the North Shukpa Kunchang glacier.

On the 17 August weather cleared up in the late afternoon. Two helicopters took off from Leh and reached the campsite where Andy was placed. The rescue mission was led by Wing Commander Abhyankar and Wing Commander Shekhawat of the Indian Air Force. Andy was brought down to Tangtse at the local army brigade HQ as the weather again turned bad and it was not possible to cross over to Leh. The doctors attached with the brigade examined him and gave him necessary treatment.

Finally on 18 August Andy Parkin reached Leh in the afternoon and then was admitted to the Civil Hospital. He is out of danger but suffering from his injuries. From 19 August onward he shifted to Hotel Kanglachen near Motup’s office and now visiting the hospital everyday for further checkups and treatment. He is otherwise keeping high moral and have decided to wait for the main team’s return to Leh (expected by end-August) before flying back to his country. I am in touch with him on telephone.

He is appreciative of all the efforts put in by various individuals and organisations in this successful rescue mission. Here we would like to specially mention all the support we received from our President Brig. Abbey, Wing Commander G. Pawan Kumar from NDA, Colonel Samsher Singh of the Army Mountaineering Institute at Siachen Base Camp, Lt. Col. Manoj Tripathi and Lt. Col. Ramit Kapoor of the Indian Army, officials of the British High Commission, MEA, MOD, MH and the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (Mr. Vinod and his colleagues) and last but not the least, Wing Commander Abhyankar and Wing Commander Shekhawat of the Indian Air Force. They once again proved that miracles can happen even today.

We will circulate further details after the team returns from the mountain.

Rajesh Gadgil 23 Aug 2013