Broken ankle ends summit dream
A Canmore woman who embarked on the journey of her dreams to summit Island Peak in Nepal has been plunged into a nightmare situation.
On Oct. 18, a mere 100 metres from the 5,900-metre summit, Deborah Ariss broke her ankle in the snow, shattering a journey 15 years in the making.
According to peakfreaks.com, Ariss caught her crampon, twisting her ankle awkwardly. Four of her expedition mates had to lower her to a safe spot on the mountain where a helicopter rescue could take place, while three more continued to the summit. However, Arris’ troubles were just beginning.
High winds whipped around the peak and a rescue helicopter struggled at 6,000 metres. The fuel gauge lit up and the Fish Tail Air helicopter returned to the base of the mountain, awaiting more fuel. For four hours, it awaited fuel. When it did arrive, the helicopter battery malfunctioned.
The hours crawled by on the mountain. The team had hiked for two weeks to reach the mountain, and supplies were not readily available. Guide Tim Rippel gave Ariss his down jacket and some oxygen to keep her blood circulating, but during the wait, the jacketless Rippel began to suffer hypothermia. The three climbers returned from the summit and supplied Ariss and Rippel with extra clothing, while the Sherpas began to hug and slap the mountain guide to warm him up.
Finally, five and a half hours after Ariss originally broke her ankle, a helicopter managed to pick Ariss off the mountain. She then had a four-hour helicopter ride to a Kathmandu hospital where she was initially treated. Her leg had swollen to twice its normal size and on Saturday (Oct. 20) she was still awaiting surgery and was unsure when she’d be able to return to Canada.
According to sources close to Ariss, she’s in pain and will require a metal rod to be inserted into her foot, but is in a ‘good facility’ in Nepal. The rest of the expedition was scheduled to return from Island Peak on Tuesday.
Ariss is an experienced climber and the accident is being described as a fluke. She was attempting to summit the peak to raise money to combat drug and alcohol abuse after a family friend died from a drug overdose. The 55-year-old was the last woman left in the Island Peak expedition, and reportedly wants to return and claim the summit.
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