But his ninth summit turned challenging later that morning when he discovered a female climber who had been abandoned near a feature called the Balcony at 27,000 feet. Hahn, who already has received the Sowles Award from the American Alpine Club for a rescue he made on the North Side of Everest in 2001, was faced with another life or death situation. Despite having just climbed the highest mountain on earth, he had to deal with the prospect of putting together a technical rescue, in the dark, from an altitude where any rescue at all is very rare.
Together with other International Mountain Guide expedition members, Casey Grom and Mike Haugen, the impromptu rescue party managed a technical lowering over the Geneva Spur to get the stricken climber down to Camp III, where British doctors from the Everest Xtreme expedition took over her care.
Almost unabelievably, however, Hahn watched an even greater tragedy unfold. During the rescue, he saw a climber fall from high on Lhotse, out of the Lhotse Couloir, fall more than 3,000 feet to her death. The rescuers in fact had to descend with their incapacitated climber very near where the body lay. As Hahn summed it up:
Well, that was certainly on our minds as we were working down eventually as we were lowering our victim through the Yellow Band we were only about a 100 feet from the remains of the woman who had fallen from the Lhotse Couloir. So it seemed like a pretty grim day to us. And with that we didn't finish with our litter case until well after dark. So trying to do the lowering on the Lhotse face with belays and lowering in the dark seemed pretty dangerous to us about then. We were able to get our victim to Camp III - our patient to Camp III, where she made a pretty good recovery with the help of the doctors that were there overnight. And we had already ducked down to Camp II getting there about 10:30 in the evening. And as I mentioned before we were pretty exhausted by then. Well that's a little bit about what's gone these last couple days. It's been a full few days.
For the full story of both the triumph and tragedy of the 2007, check out Dave Hahn's first-hand live reports on GreatOutdoors.com. Hahn will continue to call in reports as he treks back through the Khumbu and eventually arrives in Kathmandu.