Man Sacrificed Life to Save 20 in Himalayan Blizzard

Hikers say porter Pasang Tamang gave them 'second lease [on] life'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2014 8:20 AM CDT
Man Sacrificed Life to Save 20 in Himalayan Blizzard
In this Oct. 16, 2014, photo provided by the Nepalese army, rescue personnel carry a victim of an avalanche before they airlift the body from the Thorong La pass area in Nepal.   (AP Photo/Nepalese Army)

An amazing tale of sacrifice out of the Nepal blizzard that claimed at least 29 lives in the Himalayas: A group of Israeli trekkers who were rescued on the Annapurna Circuit tell the Himalayan Times that porter Pasang Tamang saved their lives, and the lives of many others, by directing them through the snow. But he lost his own life while doing so, having opted to stay on the trail to assist arriving hikers. "Our porter rescued more than 20 people. We all got a second lease [on] life," says one of the hikers to which Tamang was assigned. Another hiker earlier described a Nepalese guide who saw her stuck in waist-deep snow and "dragged me, really dragged me to the tea shop." The hikers say they spent Tuesday night at the tea shop, huddled on top of each other in an attempt to keep hypothermia at bay, before trekking five hours to an area where their cellphones worked, allowing them to call for help, reports the Nepali Times.

One climber says, "I saw many hikers crying out for Pasang’s help. They also offered him financial reward." And indeed, the body of the 46-year-old father of two was found with more than $400 worth of Indian rupees on it, plus $100 US; the managing director at the company the Israeli trekkers used says the cash was from the hikers he saved. As for the hikers who spent the night at the tea shop, it appears they may have made a wise decision. One of them tells the New York Times that only about a dozen climbers decided to stay—the other 40 to 50 members of their group decided to leave with the owner of the tea shop, who promised to lead them to the nearest town if they paid him about $10 each. After they left, the hiker says, "we don't know what happened to them." (A man who died in the Himalayas in 1968 was finally brought home last year.)

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