FORTY-FOUR-year-old Kishore Dattatraya Dhankude, who scaled Mount Everest from the south side (Nepal) on May 20 and become the first person from Maharashtra to scale the world’s highest peak from both north and south sides, has returned home to a hero’s welcome. In 2014, Kishore, a resident of Bhusari Colony, Kothrud, had scaled the Everest from North (China) side. He revealed how he managed to overcome the dangerous challenges in a section where deaths are routine.
Stating that the Everest summit from Nepal side was the tougher one of the two climbs, Kishore said, “Between the two, scaling Everest from Nepal side was more challenging. It was technically challenging, steep and had highly unpredictable weather.” Busy attending functions in his honour, Kishore spoke to Pune Newsline on Monday about his latest adventure that earned him worldwide fame, but could have easily proved disastrous for him. Revealing the horror-filled moment, Kishore said after scaling the Everest, when he started to climb down, a mishap at treacherous Khumbu Icefall could have proved costly.
“The Khumbu Icefall is between the Base Camp and Camp One. As I reached near the Khumbu Icefall, I put my feet on a mass of ice and slipped. I lost my balance and would have headed into the Khumbu had it not been for the accompanying sherpa who pulled me back just in the nick of time,” he said, recalling the scary moment. “The mass of ice had melted because of the bright sunshine in the previous two days. I had reached the vicinity of Khumbu fall in the evening of May 21. I did not realise that the ice had loosened up,” he said.
Kishore said had the sherpa not been able to rescue him, he would have hung by the rope. “The sherpa quickly jumped and caught hold of me. My one leg was in a falling position in the Khumbu while the other one was entrenched on one of the glaciers. I would have hung by the rope but don’t know if I would have managed to save myself as it becomes difficult to keep your mental balance in such a situation,” he said.
Kishore said the Khumbu Icefall is the most treacherous part on the Everest route and is known as the ‘Ballroom of Death’ among mountaineers. “It is so steep that it seems to have no bottom. Several deaths have taken place in this section,” he said. He said last year, 16 sherpas were killed after they came under the collapsing ice columns. “It was the deadliest incident in the history of Mount Everest, which led to the shifting of the climbers’ path towards the glacier’s central section,” said Kishore.
However, Kishore said the risk has not eased much. “In the central part of the icefall, though the risk of avalanche has lessened, the danger still remains. It requires great skill and courage to negotiate the icefall section,” he said. Kishore said the Nepal side was less organised than the Chinese side. “Compared to the Nepal side, the China side had only one-fifth of the climbers.” Kishore was part of the six-member Satori Adventure Club. The other members were all foreigners. While ascending, it took Kishore five days. “And we descended the Everest in barely 12 hours,” he said.
Anjali Kulkarni, a mountaineer, said, “Khumbu Icefall is indeed the most dangerous section of the Everest. Of the total deaths on Everest, 90 per cent occur in this section.” She added that Kishore’s feat “is unique in the mountaineering history of the state.” On the way down, Kishore saw the bodies of two mountaineers, one of which was apparently of Goutam Ghosh, who died last year. “We were later told that the Nepal government had removed both the bodies,” he said.
Rahul Dhankude, elder brother of Kishore, said, “I was fully confident that my brother will overcome all the obstacles and return home triumphant. This was because of the way he scaled the Everest the first time. There was no trace of fear in him.”