#200- Going pear shaped in Pakistan

Welcome to the 200th show of the Cloudbase Mayhem! And this week we’ve got one heck of a story that honors that number. Pilots and friends Pierre Carter, Jeremy Holdcroft, Scott Baker, Richard “Barbs” Barber and legendary mountaineer Andy De Klerk set off this June to attempt to break the altitude record by flying up the Baltoro Glacier to K2 in Pakistan. Everything was going well…until it wasn’t. Andy suffers a heart attack (in the air!), and Scott breaks the rule of not making a tricky situation worse by blowing a landing on the wrong side of the river and suffers a broken ankle and leg, which turns into an epic on its own. A wild story from a wild part of the world and we break it down into everything that went right, everything that went wrong, and lessons we can all take on board to help our community be safer and more prepared in the mountains. This is also a great primer on best-use practices for the Garmin InReach. Mandatory and entertaining listening!

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Speaker 1 (0s): Hi there, everybody. Welcome to the 200th episode of the Cloud-based Mayhem, the bicentennial, I think you would call that. We've been at this for 10 years, give or take a couple months. And it is all because of you. I have you to thank and you to be grateful for. Thank you for making it happen. Thank you for supporting the show in whatever way you can. And thanks for thanks for the education to all the amazing guests we've had on the show and the amazing guests yet to be on the show.

It has been a ball, it has been a joy, it has been a pleasure, and I'm excited to really put a lot more energy into it going forward. I've been wrapped up in this house build in the kinda last year and a half and always feel like these are kind of, oh, we gotta get into the show out. And I haven't been able to put the energy. I like to, I've got a whole huge folder of suggestions from those of you who have reached out over the months and years, and I promise to bring those shows to you. We have a lot of legends out there to interview a lot of hang gliders and hot air balloon people that I don't typically have on the show and should, it's been one of those I need to do for a long time, and I promise I will.

But what I can say about this show, I'm kind of happy that it just happened to fall on the 200th, is this one is very special. One is the first time we've ever had so many people in a single recording. I had three of the expeditions, five on this one. We've done live shows with more than that, but I had to get these guys in South Africa and London to come on the show. And that was all thanks to Barbs, Richard Barber. So thank you, sir. But this was, this was a real treat to talk to a climbing legend, Andy De Klerk.

And we didn't have Pierre Carter and Jeremy Holdcroft. We were two of the expedition members on, on this one. You know, know, probably recognize those names, but certainly Pierre Carter. He flew off Everest last year and has partook in the Red Bull X Alps back in the day. And a couple of those, and some great stories from that. And I will get him on and just independently on the show as soon as we can Take those two things align.

But in this show, I talked to Scott Baker and Andy De, Klerk and Richard Barber, Andy, De Klerk. You all might recognize those of you with mountaineering background, legendary climber climbed with Alex Lowe and Conrad Anchor and many others was on Everest and a fateful John Krakau story. And as many hundreds of first descents in his home of South Africa and many around the world. He's been at it a long time, but he's also a skydiver and a base jumper and a true pioneer in flight.

He's been paragliding since it started and hand gliding before that. But it was just fantastic to have him on my screen and, and get to share in his joy of the mountains. These five guys went off to Pakistan this summer to try to break the altitude record. They have been inspired by all the amazing stuff that's gone on in Pakistan. Of course, Brad Sander was one of the first out there who I've been some flying with and haven't seen him in an awfully long time.

But he was one of the original pioneers. And then in the last few years, we've seen some amazing things by Antoine Gerard and Damien Laika and Fatty Buell and Aaron Dur Gotti's, incredible huge triangles out there last summer. And then most more recently, raio Laurens and, and Tom Dedo Lado. We've both been out there several times, but they made their incredible film of flying out to K two along the Baltoro Glacier this last year.

And that film is absolutely amazing. I'm sure many of you have seen it. If you haven't, make sure to do so. The, the link to that film will be in the show notes, but these guys are more humble, I think, and they're flying endeavors. And certainly Andy is the, the B M F when it comes to mountaineering and climbing experience. But, you know, they'd seen this stuff and thought, why can't a group of just blokes from South Africa and, and get out there and, and go big as well?

So they did. They went out there and soon after arrival, they did their acclimatization and the hanza and, and then made their way up to the kind of the launch point to get out to K two and flag on the Baltoro. You hear all about that. But on the first flight of that series, things went epically sideways. And this is their story of what went right, what went wrong, which was quite a bit. And the, the learning and the education that came out of it, they're all, as you will hear, still very good friends, and they have plans for the future.

But this was a lot of fun. And it's sometimes pretty riotous and, but a great education for all of us, especially when heading off to remote big places like Pakistan. It's the highest mountains in the world. So enjoy this bicentennial episode of the Cloud-based Mayhem with all these fine gentlemen and enjoy their story. Cheers.

All right, well, gentlemen, we've never interviewed this many people at one point, and you're spread all across the world. South Africa and Cape Town and, and Barb's, you're in London. I guess that's, that's

Speaker 2 (6m 8s): A, well, I'm in Nottingham today, but yeah.

Speaker 1 (6m 10s): Ah, you're Nottingham today. All right. And I'm over here in, in Sun Valley, so welcome to the Mayhem. It's, it's cool to have you guys on the show. Barbs, I appreciate you keeping me updated both before and after. Why don't we start by just a very quick, quick introduction from the three of you on who you are and your climbing and and flying background, and then I'll ask you about the mission. But why don't we, why don't we start Barbs why don't you start, and then we'll go around my clock here and then we'll go to Andy and then we'll go to Scott.

Speaker 2 (6m 44s): Okay, cool. So, Richard Barber, I've been flying since 2004. Before that, I did my pipes license in 2008. Within a year, I lied about my hours, went to South Africa, to the Northern Cape, to a place called, flew over a hundred Kss quite quickly. Went back the next year, flew a hundred K in a little over two hours, using half breaks most of the time, and sort of scaring myself, stupid.

Gave up for a little while while I was married, then got divorced, so I didn't have any responsibility, so I took up the sport again. And then since then, it's just been a, a continuous rise with paragliding taking over more of my

Speaker 1 (7m 30s): Life. Nice and Andy.

Speaker 3 (7m 34s): Oh, that's great. Cool. So I, in South Africa, I would be known as a Buly, which is an old man, an old guy. I started flying in 1984, actually in the, in the very early days, you know, prior to actual paragliders being made, we used to take the pilot shoots off our skydiving canopies and, and, and then run off Hills. Started in the early days, sort of up to about 1990 was, was the, was sort the part of the early wave of flying in South Africa.

And then I stopped and went off to pursue my alpinism and the, and the sort of rock climbing. I, I actually lived in Seattle for 10 years. I climbed all over the world, Denali, Patagonia, a few tips to Himalayas before, and while this was going on, I was always, you know, busy with the second sport of skydiving and then later base jumping. So I'm, I've kind of been around the block, been around the block climbing.

And then about five or six years ago, I decided I was gonna get back into para. I probably had about three hours up 2017, and that's when I got back into it properly. And I'm really enjoying the aviation aspect. So in a way, with the rise of paragliding, I got off just when all the experimental stuff happened and then joined again when it was nice and safe. And, and well, miss Tab married God man, we Cape Cape Town.

Speaker 1 (9m 16s): We, we gotta do three podcasts just with you, but go ahead. There's, there's a lot of history there. I would just die to dig into, but yeah. Okay, go ahead. Sorry.

Speaker 3 (9m 26s): Yeah, yeah. And then basically, basically married with four kids in Cape Town and run a cabinet and making business. So that's me.

Speaker 1 (9m 36s): Do your kids fly?

Speaker 3 (9m 38s): My youngest son does, yeah. He just started about a year ago. Very good. And, and the others don't like paragliding?

Speaker 1 (9m 46s): Probably better.

Speaker 3 (9m 47s): Probably.

Speaker 1 (9m 50s): And Scott.

Speaker 4 (9m 52s): So I've been flying far less of illustrious career, I suppose, in flying, in aviation terms. I've been flying since 2019. I've come from a bit of an outdoor background at a lot of freestyle and whitewater kayaking was my thing for many years, kind of in my youth, little bit of rally biking, so used to being, to a degree out in the exposure thing, but not, not as wild as Andy's Andy's previous career.

And also live in Cape Town. I work in the film and media production industry and service, strangely, mostly fashion and luxury brand. But I, I organize things for a living is my and, and make, make good tea. That's my, yeah, that's my life.

Speaker 1 (10m 46s): Mm. I always find it really interesting, the kayaking flying connection. And there seems to be a, a very much similar mindset in the, in those groups of people. That was, you know, certainly my background was, was in paddling before flying. And it seems to really connect a different one is, is you Andy, you know, will Gadd always told me that it made him nervous when climbers would, would go to flying because it was, you know, flying is very much a gravity sport.

It's a flow sport, you know, so he's, he finds that kayaking, skateboarding, mountain biking, these kind of sports where you're dealing with a lot of gravity. You're dealing with gravity, obviously climbing, but climbing is more precision slow. It's not so much a flow sport. You can get in the flow state of mind, of course, which we talk about a lot on the show. But it, it interesting that you, you actually sounds like you went the other way. You, you started with flying and then you went to climbing, is that right?

Speaker 3 (11m 48s): Not exactly. I've been, I've basically been climbing since I was a very young kid. And the, how shall I say, the, the, you know, the combination of base jumping and climbing works very well together. And that was something that I always wanted to do. So I started skydiving first and, and, and then in the early days, paragliding, but it was mostly to get into base jumping so we could climb things and then jump off them.

And that's kind of what we did.

Speaker 1 (12m 22s): So you were the original Dean Potter, you, you probably gave him the idea

Speaker 3 (12m 27s): Pretty much,

Speaker 1 (12m 29s): And you're, your, your, your partners were no strangers to the, the Alpine world, Alex Lowe and Conrad. And you're, you're being quite humble. You've, you've climbed a lot of big stuff.

Speaker 3 (12m 42s): Yeah, well, very interestingly, I met Conrad at the, at, at the 7,000 foot Hiner base camp in Alaska on his very first season. Really. He was a young show with a huge crop of blonde hair. And then more sadly enough, we were in, in 1999, we were trying gas four, and Alex Lowe was in a, he was on an expedition to ship and spy, and he came out for a few days. I think he had, he was sick or something. And that was sadly the last time I saw him, because later that year he was killed in that avalanche.

And ang So it's, it's, it's, I have, I've met a lot of interesting people. I've always kept under the radar and not sort of sprouted about it, but both the paragliders and the, you know, and the climbers are amazing tribe really

Speaker 1 (13m 32s): Speaking of the tribe of the two, you know, you're, you're, you've pushed into two sports who take a lot of us, you know, mountaineering certainly as enormous risk. Usually not so much dependent on the people, but the, you know, the a the mountains themselves. Same with flying often. It's not, you know, it's not the gear, it's, it's off, it's sometimes the decisions. But we get in the, the problem with paddling and flying and climbing is you can get into places where you can't stop.

You can't just hit the eject button, I guess, unless you've got a base rig on your back and then you can, but which one? This is a hard question, but which one has taken more friends?

Speaker 3 (14m 21s): I would say on balance, more people get taken paragliding than climbing. But I, I've just been climbing a lot longer, and so there's been a lot of people from climbing, yeah, most, more, especially from Alpinism, you know, in the mountains, not so much rock climbing. But again, it's just got to do with numbers. I mean, there's, I mean, there's a lot more people that basically paraglide, I think. And, and I think paragliding is a far more dangerous sport or activity than mountaineering and climbing, as you said, it's, it's, it's a lot more dynamic.

Speaker 1 (15m 2s): It's a lot, it is very dynamic. Yeah, for sure. It's a,

Speaker 3 (15m 4s): It's a difficult question to answer, but on balance, I'd say paragliding.

Speaker 1 (15m 9s): Interesting. Hadn't planned on going there. Just caught me as an interesting question. Barbs, you reached out before you guys went, and you and I had, you had said, Hey, we gotta get Pierre on the show, which I still need to do. And I was hoping he could join us for this, but those of you listening, that's Pierre Carter who competed in the X Ops a couple times, and legendary South African pilot and animal. And so tell me, the original expedition, I assume was a bit inspired by to De, do Lado and what those guys did in the Baltoro or no, was this something you had dreamed up and then they went in there and, and got into it.

But tell us what was planned and, and the team, a little bit about the team and, and what, what the mission was.

Speaker 2 (15m 55s): Sure. So I'm never good when I'm bored and Covid was rubbish, particularly, particularly to start with. I, I was, I was furloughed for a little while and that was June, 2020. And so I started looking for, and I'd sort of started in May, even just looking for convergence lines and high cloud bases around the world. So I, I played on Windy, just looking, looking for convergence, and then also looking at Cloudbase.

And so the two which I found were the, the convergence that sets up over the Atlas. And also then I found sort of the, the, the karakorum from that. I was also already aware of the Karakorum because of John Sylvester. Like you, I went with Sky Safari's, Jim, Eddie lf Fox, who I think at some point you'd just gotta get on the makeup.

Speaker 1 (17m 2s): Oh, for sure. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (17m 4s): And, and obviously John Sylvester as well. And then sort and I'd watched Birdman of the car quorum. And so I had a sort of bit of it. And, you know, having seen this thing for Pakistan, I then contacted Andy. It was like, Hey, Andy, I've, I've seen the Karakorum and I also watched a program with a David Attenborough program at the same time, just happen happenstance where it talked about Concordia and Concordia. You've got the, the view of Broad Peak.

You've got K two, you've got the gas brums, and you've got Maher Bros, the South. And he called it, I think, the value of the Gods. And I was like, okay, gotta do this. So got in touch with Andy, I said, Hey, Andy. And he chuckled and sent me his goals and paragliding and his ultimate goal in Paragliding was to fly the al tore. Hmm. So, so that was 2020. And then 21 I sort of started, started really sort of looking at it a bit more then 2022.

Yeah, 21. I started planning for 2022, but couldn't get it organized. And actually thank goodness, 'cause I'd have gotten nowhere because I didn't have the right contacts. I didn't realize quite how difficult trying to organize the logistics of something in Pakistan would be. So, so that was where it all came from, I guess. And then Tom, can, can

Speaker 1 (18m 34s): You give us a, can you give us a couple minutes on, on what is involved? I, I just had four buddies take off and go there to, to fly. And I, I don't know that they did anything. I think they're just going out there and seeing what happens. I don't think they have a necessarily a mission. They just want to be in the care quorum and fly, and they know that there's oxygen. That's kind of it.

Speaker 4 (18m 57s): Oxygen is a hard one. Oxygen. That was my, that was my portfolio. Make sure we have oxygen.

Speaker 1 (19m 5s): Ah, okay. All right.

Speaker 2 (19m 8s): I, I offloaded that particular one to Scott. Yeah, I offloaded that pretty fast. When Scott joined the trip, I was like, Scott, you, I've been in touch with Brad Sand and I was like, Scott, you can look after oxygen. So that was, that was that problem. But no, I, I think first of all, you've gotta get permits. Now you, you've had Aaron on, on the show in the past who talked about ending up in jail in Hunza. 'cause he hadn't sort of got that bit sorted out in advance.

Now all these things can be sorted out with time. Yeah. If you've got the time, it's not a problem. You can speak to the right people. You get when you get there. People, the Pakistani people are the most friendly, helpful people anywhere on Earth, as far as I'm concerned. I've been to a lot of places that they really were outstandingly brilliantly helpful and wonderful. But you've got the, in the, for the Bator specifically, it's, it's a military, it's a militarized zone. The only helicopters that can fly there are military helicopters.

So you've gotta get a bunch of different permits. You've gotta get treking permit, first of all, from the, from the government. But actually it, do you get a tracking permit or do you get a tracking and mountaineering permit? And if you don't have that, you can't go in there. If you don't have an expedition partner that's a local partner, you can't go in there. If, and then on top of that, you then need to have a permit to go flying. Now, fortunately, Tom and Horatio and Tom, we spoke to, to through Xag, they put me in touch with Tom and Tom.

He was moving from Belgium to the Azos and he's like, okay, I'm gonna have an hour on this day at this time. I can talk to you guys.

Speaker 1 (20m 58s): Yeah, he's a busy man. And

Speaker 2 (21m 1s): Yeah, but he gave, he gave that full hour and gave us total undivided attention. What he didn't tell us was that he was moving house from, from Belgium to OSAs. He was editing the flying between Giants movie, which anyone who hasn't seen is an absolute must for anyone who para Yeah, that's amazing. The cinematography is excellent. He and the ratio just awesome. The, when Morales got caught, caught up at Basecamp and seeing his face sort of having walked for two days back, it's the whole thing's priceless.

Yeah. So, so there was just, and, and, and Tom put us in touch with Jasmine tours, which to be honest with probably the most important thing out of everything because they, they are, they've been established for over 20 years. They know everyone. They know the commissioners, they, they know sort of everyone that's needed. They, they know the military people, they even have a deal with the military for the helicopters. So that everyone, any other group that goes there, they have to put down a 10,000 pound deposit or $10,000 deposit of people's own money beforehand to, so if they're gonna get a, a helicopter Hmm.

Now we, we didn't have to do any of that because Jasmine's so well established and Jasmine does all the checks to make sure that we had the appropriate insurances and stuff, and that the military wasn't gonna be sort of left, left short. Mm. If, if they did things. So, so that, that was super important. But, you know, I also WhatsApp Antoine Ard, because I found his number somewhere and had a WhatsApp conversation with him. I found out that a guy called Shaw was the head of the Pakistani Paragliding Association, got in touch with him.

And he said to me, look, if you want to go to the Val Glassy, you need to have a, what's your mission going to be? And so it's like, ah, okay, we need a mission. Oh, well I guess we're gonna go for the record then. And so that's how it went from just wanting to go and fly in the Baltoro and flying around amongst the Tango towers and fly to Broad Peak to, actually, let's see if we can break a record.

Speaker 1 (23m 14s): Hmm. Okay. So the, the mission was to just break the record, go, go higher than anybody else gone. The,

Speaker 2 (23m 18s): The record was to, to fly onto K two ideally. Yeah. And to break the altitude record. And so all the preparation really from, certainly from my side, was to make sure I was in the best possible condition to enable me to do that safely.

Speaker 1 (23m 36s): And how was the team chosen? And, and we've got a couple people missing here. So fill in quickly, who's the team? How was that chosen? What was, what were the different roles?

Speaker 2 (23m 48s): Sure. So Andy and I had been talking about this for a couple of years, and one of the things I've been doing was looking at weather. I've always been a bit of a weather geek. 'cause I don't have that much leave. So I'm forever, and I've got access to staff travel. So I, I bounce for, for day trips to the outs. And not desperately unusual for me because if, if it's good, then I'm, I'd very happily spend twice as much on a plane ticket then I would on a train in the uk.

And so, so Andy and I were absolutely down for it. And at the same time, Pierre Carter and sort of, I guess his, his other, his psychic chap called Jeremy Holcroft up in Joberg who, and he flew off Everest last year. He was the first person to do it legally. They were also looking at Pakistan and what could they do. And so, so we had a call between us and I didn't really, I'd never met Pierre at this stage. And it was like, look, do we think we can, we can muddle along and that, you know, we, we are going keep each other safe.

And it seemed like, yeah, this, this, this could work. And it was sort of gonna be Andy and I as buddies and then Pierre and Jeremy as buddies. And then the autumn, I was in South Africa and I got to know Scott a bit. And then at Christmas spent more time with Scott. And, and Scott was like, I'd really like to come on this. It's like, eh, you got the experience so slightly unsure. And then we had had more chats. And then Scott proved incredibly useful when, sadly a pilot in South Africa crashed.

He didn't end up making it, but Scott did a hell of a lot in terms of trying to do logistics to try to give him the best possible chances. And, and then we sort of, we had another discussion like that we think Scott could, could be good. And Andy sort of broached that with Pierre and Jeremy and they said, yeah, yeah, he, he's welcome. And

Speaker 4 (25m 59s): I got in under the, under the guise of organizing things for a living is what I do. So I can organize. Yeah, I can organize, I can organize things.

Speaker 1 (26m 9s): You, you need that, you need that person on a team.

Speaker 4 (26m 12s): I can fix, I can, yeah, I can, I can fix is my, that's my gig.

Speaker 1 (26m 17s): You're a fixer.

Speaker 4 (26m 19s): I'm a fixer. Yeah. I'm a fixer.

Speaker 2 (26m 23s): So, so I, so I threw oxygen at, at Scott then the, everyone else decided they would go to Hunza for two weeks before going to the bal tore. I just simply couldn't do that with work. So I got an altitude tent instead. So, so every morning the daily standup would start with, so what altitude were you sleeping at last night? Did you get any sleep? My very first night, I may not have read the instructions quite as well as I should have done. And I woke up after two hours sort of going holy, I feel I don't feel very well.

I, so I sort of opened, opened the tent and she was there and I discovered that I'd gone straight to 6,000 meters.

Speaker 1 (27m 11s): Perfect. So Climatizing an evening.

Speaker 4 (27m 14s): So while, so while Barbs was sitting in an altitude tent in London, Andy myself, Pierre and Jeremy went to Hunza for 12 days was our major acclimatization time was 12 days prior in Hunza Andy. And we, we coined the house thermal, Andy's thermal because from pretty much the first day Andy used to would launch, go straight into the thermal and be close on 6,000 meters, sort of 20 minutes later, all in one climb.

Whoa. It is

Speaker 1 (27m 51s): How high is

Speaker 4 (27m 53s): So I mean,

Speaker 3 (27m 54s): 3000 meters. Yeah,

Speaker 1 (27m 56s): 3000 meters. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Wow.

Speaker 4 (27m 59s): That's a take off. 3000 meters Andy. What was the floor? The floor was the bottom of the, the, the, the designated landing was about 2,200, I think. And the mountains up the back of Hunza. Who topped out there the most was a Jeremy, but well over 6,000.

Speaker 3 (28m 20s): Yeah, we about six five. So

Speaker 4 (28m 22s): Six five.

Speaker 1 (28m 24s): You just take a house thermal to 6,500. That's not bad.

Speaker 4 (28m 29s): Yeah.

Speaker 1 (28m 31s): Wow. So

Speaker 4 (28m 31s): Andy's Yeah, Andy's Thur, Andy's, we named it Andy's Thermal and it was the day's, the day's mission was to try and chase Andy in his first thermal of the day up to the top. So some,

Speaker 1 (28m 41s): Some quick math there. That's 11, 12,000 feet over the valley floor no more. 13, 14,000 feet over the valley floor. That's a, that's a spectacular, that's that's

Speaker 4 (28m 53s): Pretty, it's quite something. Yeah. It's quite something

Speaker 1 (28m 56s): Amazing. So on these kind of altitude, you know, getting adjusted flights, were you pushing into the big terrain? Were you kind of, okay, let's, let's go for some little xc or were you guys literally just, you know, taking what you could and, and getting some altitude and getting some, some time under your belts?

Speaker 3 (29m 15s): Well, I'll answer that. We, I mean, the flying hose is really good. We did in all those acclimatizing and training flights there, I mean, pretty much every day we did triangles. So anything from a 60 k triangle to a hundred K triangle, we found that when we got there, there was a lot of snow from the winter, which hadn't cleared off earlier. And actually in the beginning of June, beginning

Speaker 1 (29m 45s): Of June Okay.

Speaker 3 (29m 45s): The, the beginning of June. And, and, and, and so we found on the snowy side of things, on the Rahi side, there was a lot of downdraft atic winds. So we, so we pretty much stayed on the other side, which would be the, which would be the, the southeast side. And we found that, you know, we could still get pretty good, pretty decent climbs there. So it was basically, you know, 12 days of just really nice cross country flying big triangles and, you know, just testing out all the warm gear and the oxygen and all that sort of stuff.

Speaker 1 (30m 25s): Hmm. What would be involved in going from that, you know, 60 a hundred K triangles to the mission? What, what, what needed to happen for those like me who haven't looked very closely at maps of this area in a while? What do you, what, what needed to happen on the day, on the day that you're gonna try to do it?

Speaker 3 (30m 49s): You mean on the record breaking day?

Speaker 1 (30m 51s): Yeah. What, what would, what would have to, what would be involved in making that obviously good weather, but what would, what, what does that route look like? How long is it, how, how much time would it take?

Speaker 3 (31m 2s): W Well, I mean, flying from in the ura flying from where you take off in Pyo to K to up to K two isn't very far. It's about 50 Ks. Oh, okay. But so it's 50 Kss there, 50 Ks back, but it's in that entire flight, there's nowhere to land. It's as, as you know, as Tom said, the Baltoro Glacier, you gotta think of it as lava. I mean, you could land there, but you'll crash and you will get injured badly. So it's, it's, so, it's highly committing.

Basically you're flying over this river of ice with boulders and rocks and lakes and all sorts of things. So the transition from Hunza to the altoa, the, the flying is very similar. I mean it's, you know, you, you find a nice so rocky, sunny face and there'll be a climb there and you, you know, you just bounce from thermal to thermal and peak to peak and so on and so on. But the difference between Hunza and the Baltoro is the level of commitment in, okay, I mean, in hunza there's, there's fields to land on anyway.

You just one glide away from a landing in the Be Toro, there's nowhere that,

Speaker 1 (32m 11s): Yeah, okay. Big difference. Barb, you look like you want to talk, you keep putting your hand up there. Yeah,

Speaker 2 (32m 15s): No, just, it was just, I think, so obviously Hunza is about 130 kilometers away from the Baltoro Glassier. Okay. So, so, so the, the, those guys spent two weeks in, in Hunza. Then they spent a day in a sort of, in, in the back of Land Rovers sort of being driven from Hunza Toka, which is sort of the staging post, if you like, the city that's closest to the Baltoro.

Okay. And, and then you have a day's drive up to a place called Kodi. And on that journey, depending when you go, depends on how, how sketchy that drive is on the way up. It was still early enough that there wasn't that much water coming down. But by the time I came out in a vehicle, there were a few landslides that had been down. There was so much water coming down the portable rivers that they were no longer affordable.

So you had sort of one Land Rover and then another Land Rover. You, you'd walk over a dodgy little couple of pieces of wood to get across the, across this raging tort over the top of the Raging Torrent. And then you get into a different Land Rover and then go down the next bit across another one and then down the next bit. And so, and so what a company like Jasmine Tours does is they organize to have these cars which are doing shuttles between affordable rivers.

Wow. And then once you've got to akoi, you then have a two day walk into to get, to pay you. You can can do it in a day, but even if you can do it in a day, your kit and everything else isn't gonna do it in a day. 'cause that's what the porters, and there's only so far, when they can walk, when they're carrying all this kit at 2,800 meters, it's 25 degrees in the valley. Absolutely scorching. It's amazing how strong the sun is.

Speaker 4 (34m 25s): And these, these guys are carrying 50, 50 kilograms, they're carrying 50 kilograms per person. So they'll, they'll carry two, two glider bags, for example, quite comfortably when they walk in. I think the, the, the, the logistics smoothed over by someone like Jasmine Tu is, is is quite substantial. It's quite rough logistics. But I think Gavin, your actual question was, was, was towards, what were the weather conditions like?

As in, when would you call it was?

Speaker 1 (34m 58s): No, not yet. Let's, let's get to that. No, I, I'm trying to understand the logistics. So the, the, you can't then, you can't start at Hanza and do this mission. You've gotta, you've gotta do these overland things to get into a better zone. You can't fly from Hunza and, and fly to schoolI for example. Or Pi Piu was the other one, the Piu. And you can't, you can't do it by air. So the

Speaker 4 (35m 21s): Yes and no, I mean you well it's all driven. It's all driven. Okay. So you fly from, so our and India and my logistics were, we fly into, we flew into Islamabad, we flew from Islamabad to Gil Get, which is a commercial flight, beautiful through the mountains. And then from Gil you take, what was it, a two hour car drive to Hunza. Okay. Then we were based in Hunza. The, the logistics in Hunza are amazingly easy. It's a little town. You can get oxygen at the local welding shop.

And it, it all takes a little bit longer than you would expect or than you might hope. But it's all manageable and it all, it all happens. We stayed in, in a really nice hotel called the Hard Rock Hotel, which is a 20 minute walk from launch, which was absolutely amazing as well. A 20 minute walk up to launch. They've got a nice set of five flags outside. You can see all the wind direction Absolutely perfect. And then flying in Hunza, as Andy was saying, is relatively easy.

You've got plenty of places to land and there's plenty of big flying there. Okay. We then drove with Pier and Jeremy up the Carrum highway, which is spectacular in itself. And that we did in a minivan, perfectly comfortable, lots of rockfalls along the way. And then we got through Toka and Skidoos that town that's like the base of operations for all of the mountaineering and all of the big treks of people going to going into the Baltoro K two and all of the peaks you were talking about earlier.

And then it's a day's Jeep Drive on the scariest road I've ever been on. It's carved into the side of scree slopes. Like you just, like the, the ground that the road is on is the same as the ground that's that's ground down the mountain. It's like it's, yeah. But they, they're again, they're amazing. And Bob's and I were with the driver that must've been in his sixties, maybe mid to late sixties, maybe the early seventies. And the guy drove the hell out of his Toyota Land Cruiser, like old school Land Cruiser didn't, didn't feel overly safe in the beginning, but then realized actually how good he was.

And then you get to, as Bob said, Esly. And that's a camp in a village the most. Yeah, that's a camp in a village. Okay. And then you walk and then you walk from there. Okay. And that's where, so you are you the, the last part of it, you can't fly to Bob's flew into du so he didn't do the whole roundabout trip. He had one day's cheap drive in. Okay. And then we all started. So we all did the Jeep Drive in together and the walk into the ura

Speaker 1 (38m 12s): And from, from from there. What are you looking at to get to launch? What's, what's required for the day now? Now I'm asking the weather question,

Speaker 2 (38m 26s): Shall I? So the, the weather we worked out that I've been a fan of soaring for years because it's super simple, really easy to see what's what. And actually I found a really quite good interpretation of in of how sore meteo sort of what, what that was saying and what that meant for the conditions in the valori. Basically if there was any sort of big lines of cloud, then it was gonna be overdeveloped in hell. And if there were little cl, if it was saying little clouds and the Cloudbase was saying five and a half, you could probably could basically add somewhere between 500 meters to a thousand meters to whatever it was saying.

Okay. But within the bow touring. So that, that, that was, that was quite help. That was quite helpful. So on any given day, when we are going to fly, we'd walk up from Basecamp at PayYou, which is at 3,300. And it's the last camp before the Glassier itself starts walk up to 4,000 meters. We, we use Porters to carry our bags up because, well why wouldn't you at nine euros? It's, and I, I slightly messed up with kits, so I ended up having to have a very heavy kit.

So, so I had an impress for, and so I was carrying 28, well my kit total was 28 kilos, but Port would carry the kit and then I'd carry the warm kit and the oxygen and that stuff up in a little day back. So you get up to launch for about around 11, by which time the, it would be starting to come up the hill in the valley. The SBA would be still, still blowing, but not hard. But that sort of almost helped with an easterly because it'd be coming down the, down the Glacier, which is running sort of east west.

So it'd be coming down, down the, down the Glacier. And then it's then actually the flying itself is pretty simple. You know, it's the, at 4,000 meters and it's hot. It you, there isn't a lot of air. So, so, so takeoff is fast and it's, it's scree and it's steep. You know, it's, if you mess up a takeoff there, it's gonna hurt a lot. You're probably gonna be okay.

But being a screw slope, you'll sort of bounce and slide and you're gonna bounce and slide a long way. It's gonna, you, you're gonna smart for a while. Yeah. But, but yeah, once you take off then there was a thermal to the left, a thermal to the right and, and you kind of just pretty much, certainly while we were there, we just sort of pinged up pretty fast after that. And then you sort of, kind of

Speaker 1 (41m 13s): Is a lot of the, is a lot of the forecasting you, you said soaring media worked pretty well, but is a lot of the forecasting just, you know, licking your finger and sticking it out in the weather or, or they're pretty reliable models? Is it, is it, no,

Speaker 2 (41m 26s): So, so, so the so model worked really, really well. The big problem is once you go into the Baltoro, there is no mobile reception at all. You know, it there, even the satellite reception at PayYou Basecamp is almost non-existent. Wow. You have to kind of, it takes 15, 20 minutes for an inReach message to get out a lot of the time because it's gotta wait for a, for a satellite to be in just the right place. 'cause it's got a bloody great steep mountain behind you.

So, so, so that meant that although I had absolutely learned how to interpret the weather, I was then having to ask sort of people on, on via the inReach going, Hey, can you gimme the weather forecast for tomorrow? This is what I'm interested in and I get some, I get these different messages back. And then it was a case of trying to imagine what Soaring Meteo was actually saying from that to then work out what the weather was going to be. Hmm. And that was a sort of, so, so a learning point was you need to really have a fully briefed person who absolutely understands what it is you want from a weather forecast.

And the other problem was the people providing the weather forecast did not want to say it looks great if there's any risk at all. 'cause they don't wanna feel responsible if you then crash and smash yourself up on the bow tore, you know, once you take off, as Andy says, you go up the ba tore, there are no landing options. You have to make it back.

Speaker 1 (42m 54s): So you've gotta make 50 K, you gotta make a hundred K, 50 K out, 50 K back and you, you've gotta make it. There's nowhere you're, you're not slow landing in the scree. You're not, you're not landing on the Glacier that's just game over it. You gotta make it

Speaker 2 (43m 11s): Pro pretty much. And, and certainly that should be the attitude of anyone flying there. Yeah. Is that, that that, that, you know, Tom described us as lava and that for me was a really good description. 'cause it just said, you know, you don't land on lava. And, and, and that was certainly the mindset that I went there with. Not that I really got to fly very far up the glassier just because of circumstances, but for, for me, that was something I never wanted to, to get into a risk of.

Yeah. I mean I, and I certainly know that Andy felt the same about that.

Speaker 1 (43m 46s): And Andy, you've got obviously the most Glacier experience I'm sure of anyone here. But there, there were a couple of Glacier crossings I had to undertake in, in Alaska when I did the, the thing up there with Dave Turner. And luckily, you know, after the first one I flew over the rest because walking across this thing was just mind bendingly difficult and, and, and incredibly dangerous. But it was just, they, they present things that you can't see from the air and it's just a maze.

I, I don't know how the Baltoro is, but I imagine if it's similar, that was not something I ever wanted to repeat.

Speaker 3 (44m 26s): Yeah, no, for sure. I mean, Glacier basically Glacier travel is time consuming, shall we say. And as you Yes,

Speaker 1 (44m 36s): This is the worst maze problem ever.

Speaker 3 (44m 38s): Exactly. It's much easier to fly over them. Yes. The Belfor doesn't have snow on it until you know, much higher up on the gas side and the, and just underneath K two it's basically just ice and gravel and pebble and rocks and rivers. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sort of. So it looks brown. It doesn't look white, but it's it, but it's nasty. It's, it's convoluted, jumbled and not somewhere that you could land safely.

Last year Ramos did land in the middle of broad peak base camp. He sunk out there and also something to consider, I mean, the Val Toro starts at 3,300 and goes up to 5,200. And I mean, just for the air density you're flying much, much faster. So you, you know, you can't just sink it into a little tight spot anymore. You need a proper runway because you're gonna come in fast and hard.

Speaker 1 (45m 37s): Yeah, right. Yeah. That, that does catch a lot of people out. You know, in places like Peru and that kind of thing, your, your speeds are, I remember John Sylvester always talking about the, that, you know, he, he really liked flying a much lower end glider in the really big terrain just because of the speeds. You know, you, you don't want the Enzo speed anymore. You, you want something that you can manage when you're trying to stick it in.

Speaker 3 (46m 2s): Yeah, for sure. That's why all of us on our trip, we all had sea gliders. You know, we thought about it basically. Basically Barbs and Jeremy had had the new photon. I had an Alpena and, and then Scott had a ni Pierre had a, Pierre had another Xenon, but it was an older one that's a D but it was four years old. So I, we sort of thought it flew about same as a C

Speaker 1 (46m 30s): Yeah, pretty similar, pretty similar machines. So, so when you get, you know, quote unquote, the day it looks looks pretty good. I'm, I'm imagining I've been told that flying in Pakistan is in, in a lot of ways pretty straightforward. It's kinda like beer, there's, there's, there's not a lot of wind. I mean obviously you, you've gotta deal with the CBAs, you've gotta deal with things. It's big terrain, but on good days it's pretty straight, pretty straightforward. But I would imagine there's a little pucker factor here doing this thing we flying over all this terrain that's unmanageable.

Or is it that straightforward? Is it the kind of thing you, you launch, you get in the thermal and okay, this is gonna work, this is straightforward, we could do this.

Speaker 4 (47m 11s): So I'm gonna as the, as the most junior of the Pilots, I will say there's definitely a pucker factor from my point of view, I suppose for, from everyone. You've got to wrap your head around it. That's why was quite important. 'cause it is such big terrain. I've flown prior to this a couple of times in the Alps, but not flown any really big mountains. And then suddenly when you are looking at, as we discussed earlier, when you're sitting at six, like Andy got to six and a half thousand in Hunza and you're looking down at the floor, it's 2000, it's four, it's over four kilometers in that, in that distance.

So definitely a case of buck up and Hackett as well as obviously all the, the planning and the right conditions to, to boot. But one of the big, one of the big warnings that about flying in the area that an Antoine actually said to us was, it's one thing when you have overdevelopment, when you have a cloud, a slightly lower Cloudbase, so five to 7,000 and you start having overdevelopment.

But he really warned and he's flow, he's flown a lot in the, in the area. He like strongly warned, he was like, when you have Cloudbase between seven and 8,000 and you have overdevelopment in at that height, he, he said it happens much quicker, so much, much quicker than, than than anything lower. The overdevelopment happens much quicker. So his big, one of his big warnings was yeah, if you, if you start to see it overdeveloping or developing between seven and 8,000, then you need to go home.


Speaker 1 (49m 4s): Yeah. Aaron, Aaron talked about that too. You know, he had those huge triangles there last year, but talked about if there was any sign of overdevelopment, it's game over. You, you, you know, your, your exits start shrinking really fast because you've, you're high takes, takes some time to get on the ground. And I would imagine, you know, with this, with this flight out to K two, out to Baltoro if you're high enough is are there places to run? Can you get over into another valley?

Could you, are there escape routes or you're, you're trapped this, you're, this is the mission, you gotta get in, you gotta get out. This is, you gotta make it work.

Speaker 2 (49m 43s): S so, so with the Baltoro, it being this one valley that goes basically east west and then you go as you head east, you get to a place called looking at Tom's tracks. And to an extent, Tom and Horatio have done all the hard work and to, and Antoine as well in terms of highlighting. You can even see on some of the apps, you can see the, where the thermals are. And they are, they are beautifully predictable. But then you have to hop over to K two.

But before that, literally you can just run down the run back down the, the Baltoro to the end of it, which is at the end of it is pay you camp. So as long as you are in the main valley, you can get there. In theory, the only problem is that, you know, mash bro is still over 7,000 meters. You've got even PayYou, which no one really bothers climbing. That's 6,400 meters. And behind that is Chocho, which is 6,500 meters.

You've got the Trango Towers next door, which are the tango towers, you know, it's just, it's just the scale of the mountains that are everywhere. So if it's ODing in one place, the chances are it's ODing everywhere. So, so hence

Speaker 1 (50m 58s): So you just don't play with that

Speaker 2 (50m 60s): Od you just got, just getting home. Yeah. But of course you're going fast. I mean our trim speed was on the hottest day. I think it was actually on the first day. We, we were sort of turning around, it's like, okay, wind's gotta be that way 'cause I'm doing 49 Kss an hour at Trim. And then you turn around and you're doing 49 Ks back the other way. It's like, ha okay, this is gonna be a fast landing. And then you try pressing the speed bar and you can do over se you can do over 70 in both directions.

Just, just, and 'cause you've got the height to play with when you're going out, you can. And it's quite, it's quite novel.

Speaker 1 (51m 40s): I mean, so in a perfect world you're out 50 k you, you, you're out at the end and you're tall assuming you're, you know, you've picked a good day and you're trying to break the record. You're tall, you turn around and you're, you're a glide from being back. You don't have to work very hard. Yeah. Wow. That's amazing. Okay, so what happened? Are we, are we at that point yet? Can we talk about that or,

Speaker 2 (52m 4s): I think probably customer set up probably beyond it to be honest. But so let let's, let's throw this

Speaker 3 (52m 10s): Andy, I think starts

Speaker 2 (52m 11s): To Andy, I think, yeah, and I think Andy should start on this and then, because really it's, it's his, it's it's his story combined with a bit of what I normally describe as fuck Whittie. I'm not sure whether that can make onto the Oh yeah,

Speaker 1 (52m 25s): Oh yeah, totally. Yeah, totally. We we're, we're X-ray by way. Let's go for it.

Speaker 3 (52m 31s): Alright, so after being in Hunza, we, we had, we made our way to the Belt Toro, and we had a really nice checkout flight the first day. Then the next day we went up and we had, let's see, we had allowed ourselves two weeks in the Belt Toro. So on the second day we started the 700 meter walk up, which is quite steep. And I had a, a very tight neck and I pulled out it, you know, it's just a respiratory infection that we would get.

And actually Pierre had one of those as well, because PA is not a very clean place. There's, you know, there's donkeys and porters and all these mountaineering expeditions come through. So it's incredibly dusty and dirty. So, so then anyway, we walked up, chest pain started getting worse and worse. And so I thought, let me just put some oxygen on. Then the chest pains lowered and I, I mean the wind's perfect. I've got the chest pain. I, I didn't think that it, I thought it was gonna go away, away.

We all took off. And about an hour later over Theran Towers, it got really bad. On a scale of one to 10, I'd say about eight. And I realized just in terms of pain, in terms of pain at N rls, oh shit, I'm having a heart attack in midair above Theran Towers, which is not a nice place to have a heart attack. No, no, that's, I mean, the heart, I'm gonna, yeah,

Speaker 4 (54m 10s): I'm gonna back it up there a little bit and just say give like, I suppose add a bit of the humorous side to that. Andy Andy is saying that, I mean, he's saying that he was at pain level eight on the radio comms, on the radio comms, he's like, calm as a cucumber. He's un like, so from, as Andy climbed as Andy climbed up and obviously started to have the chest pains, he flew out at about five, five, I think Andy, you flew out about 5,000, 500 meters.

He flew out from the, from the Gaggle. We were in a nice gaggle flying Andy flew out and I think I radioed him and was like, Hey, Andy, where you going? Because we were all kind of flying together. And he was like, no, I'm, I'm not feeling so good. I'm just gonna put on my oxygen. So he flew out of the, of the kind of more busy air put on his oxygen. He came back and joined us and we flew for a bit longer. And I think that was when we were in Tango Towers and Andy flew out again.

And as you heard him say, he, he was at pain eight. And I said to him again, Hey, Andy, where you going? Like, all, okay. I'd seen him knocking his chest while walking up, which was when he was, so it didn't really register at the time, but, you know, and he'd said that he'd, he'd, he'd not been feeling great. That's why he went and put the oxygen on. So I said, Andy everything okay. And he was like, yeah guys, I'm, I'm, I'm not feeling so good.

I'm, I'm, I'm gonna head back to camp. I'm gonna go land, but don't worry about me, you guys just stay and do your thing. Enjoy your flight. And off he started.

Speaker 1 (56m 1s): But this wasn't, this wasn't the flight you were gonna try this on. This is just a checkout flight. You, you guys are just goofing around in the air having fun or, or, or you were, or you kind of playing with it. Oh, maybe we got the day.

Speaker 3 (56m 12s): Oh, well, what we were doing, we were basically just exploring all the thermals on the way up the Alcoa. Okay. The day was pretty stable, beautiful blue sky and everything. But, but I mean the, you know, the, the top of the climbs would've been about 6,500, no more than that. That's the forecast we had. So it, it wasn't a day to get very high above 8,000 meters. I think you need likely different weather conditions. You need a heat load or you need a little more in instability or you need a little, or you need a little more wind.

You need different factors from that day.

Speaker 1 (56m 50s): So Andy, you're, you're experiencing this, you know, pretty severe chest pain. Is this, is this something you had experienced on previous climbing expeditions or was this something totally new? You know, were any, any red flags going off other than heart attack? Was it, was it, you know, it, was it, were you thinking hape pace? Were you thinking something along those lines or were you pretty clear what was going on?

Speaker 3 (57m 14s): Well, I didn't, I've, I've never had any medical problems like that before, ever. And, you know, my family's got no history of heart attacks or anything, but there was just this incredibly tight chest. I didn't think of it as a heart attack at the time. I thought, well, I've just got massive angina, which is very tight chest. And as I said, you know, I've never, I've in, in all my prior mountaineering, I, I I've climatized easily and never had any problems.

So it came as a bolt out of the blue and funnily enough, it was one of those things afterwards you can see, okay, a prime risk factor, you know, basically middle-aged man not acclimatized up high, there's not enough oxygen getting to the heart. I mean, it's clear as daylight and we can talk about, you know, the mitigating factors that we could have taken beyond that. But the point was here I found myself at 5,500 meters and it was a mortal feeling.

It's like, this is not right guys, I can die from this. So all I wanted to do was get down on the ground. So that's what happened is a long 30 minute glide from five, five, 6,000 meters down to 3,300. And it's one of that, those instinctual things I need to get down into the ground. I need to sort out this chest pain. So I landed, okay. Bob's also landed ne next to me.

Okay. And then because we were buddy flying, the five of us would basically fly together and not, you know, for, from a safety point of view, when I said I'm gonna turn around, Bob Bob's and Scott both joined me so that, you know, after an hour and a half that sort of cut short their flight. But this, as I said, it was, it, it was a mortal feeling I needed to get down. So we all landed, Scott unfortunately had, I guess the word would be landing

Speaker 4 (59m 31s): Slightly harder landing than Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3 (59m 33s): Landing fixation.

Speaker 4 (59m 34s): Yeah. Slightly harder landing that than I, than I needed to. But I, yeah, I mean we were chatting, so in that half an hour where, where Andy kind of left Tango and I think, I think we left there just, just under 6,000 in the, in the ends and the Long Glide home. We, Bob's and I obviously there's like, there's all this time. So there's all this, there was half an, there was half an hour glide, or Yeah, close on half an hour. Glide obviously checked in on Andy a couple of times.

Again, the the radio comms is on some of our camera footage. Andy always like, eh, Andy just checking in on you. And he'd be like, yeah, chest pains still there. I'm just gonna go la I, I wanna land quickly. It was like quite a very common collected. We all, I suppose, knew that it was quite serious because no one would've landed before. And I, I was watching to see where Andy, and it was my, my, my saying to myself is the classic airline saying, Liz, it's put your own mask on first.

Like when the air, when the, when the oxygen mask come down, put your own mask on first and then help the help. Yeah. Don't make the situation worse. Yeah. And I was watching Andy because I was like, I wasn't, I wasn't totally sure how he was gonna land or where he was gonna land or if he was still up for landing, but I fixated on watching Andy and made the cardinal arrow of not putting my mask on first. And I landed a little bit quicker than what I had, than, than what I should have.

But I, I rolled my, I rolled my leg over a, over a boulder. My, my actual injury is not that bad. It's just a broken fibula. And I tore the ligaments off, but the, what made it worse is the fact that I landed the other side. Andy landed a hundred, 200 meters from Kemp. I landed a hundred meters from Andy, but I landed the other side of the river. So it earned me a four hour walk home on a broken ankle, which at, I took, I took some, we had some, our med kit was really well organized and we all had little flying med kits as well.

I had some tramadol in there, which is like Oxycontin, which from when I did rally biking stuff, also, you make sure you carry a bunch of really hardcore painkillers just to get you through the first part. So I ate two of those and they make you a little bit funny. So I did a video, I did like a video interview with myself where I did a splint on my leg. Andy sorted out the med, all the med kits for us. We had an expedition doctor put a list together, Andy did all the ordering.

So we had like a nice leg splint. I bandaged myself and I took, I took my four hour walk home all the time chatting to the guys again, Andy in such tough nut spirits that we had a little negotiation with the porters as to what they were gonna charge us to come and pick me up. And Andy in the middle of his scenario was still, yeah. Holding it together together enough to organize to, to send them my way.

And by then, Bob's had landed, he took a bit of a tumble on landing as well. And then Bob's, I mean, you, you had, yeah, you, you, you kind of took over the, you you rolled with things from there. And, and that's I suppose where the crux of this is.

Speaker 2 (1h 3m 22s): So, so, so, yeah. So I was the last to land by about, we actually all landed within 45 seconds of each other. Scott landed, landed first it was all on, on video. Then Andy landed about 15, 20 seconds later. But in the perfect spot. And actually it was the best landing for the three of us the day before. We had agreed that one of the things I'm always keen on is that everyone focuses on spot landings.

So we'd agreed that he who lands the furthest from the, from the wind, so would have to pump the water because, and, and that's a way of just sort of getting everyone to be focused on, on something that matters. So Pierre so

Speaker 1 (1h 4m 9s): You're trying to nicely say that Scott really messed this up.

Speaker 4 (1h 4m 12s): Well, and Bob and

Speaker 2 (1h 4m 15s): Bob, I'm shy of random conversations I would put, but I'll come to that in a second and, and Scott may wanna come back at me. So, so Pierre and Jeremy put the wind sock up and I'd said, look, closest to the wind stock is the key thing. What they didn't tell me was they put it on the edge of a boulder field. So, so trying. Was

Speaker 4 (1h 4m 39s): There spot landing?

Speaker 2 (1h 4m 41s): Trying, I'm trying to

Speaker 4 (1h 4m 42s): Meant to be a spot landing. You weren't meant to land in the boulder field, it was to land. No, no.

Speaker 2 (1h 4m 46s): I, I was landing with it. I landed with

Speaker 4 (1h 4m 48s): You misinterpreted it. You misinterpreted it. I

Speaker 2 (1h 4m 51s): Landed within 20 feet, but it's,

Speaker 1 (1h 4m 52s): Anyway's, a good thing. You guys are all a long ways apart in South Africa. Yeah. Yeah. I can see the punches are coming out.

Speaker 2 (1h 4m 60s): Yeah. So anyway, I did my little roadie pony down the, which is on video with my 360 camera underneath me. 'cause I had it dangling down. So that gets a nice picture of me doing a roadie pony. And anyway, I then sort of was like, okay, yeah, I'm all good. And I'd asked Scott if he was okay, and he initially said he was fine. Then he is like, I twisted my ankle quite badly. And then sort of later on then, so I went over, I looked at Andy, Andy was like, yeah, no, I'm not feeling great. I'm just gonna chill for it, but can you help pack up my kit? So I help him pack up his kit, pack up my kit, I give him my oxygen, give him my water.

Then I'm like, I run up to camp to go and get the med, the big med kit, which was meant to have some, the special heart attack spray stuff, the thing you put under your tongue, but couldn't find that. But got back down to Andy. We got him to some shade and Scott comes on the radio and he's like, guys, I'm kind of cooking out here, looking here in the, in in the heat.

Speaker 4 (1h 5m 59s): I'm starting to burn. Can you, I'm starting to burn. And the pain's starting to set him.

Speaker 2 (1h 6m 6s): And I was like, and I give it shit. Not at all.

Speaker 4 (1h 6m 13s): Bob, you were very sweet at

Speaker 2 (1h 6m 14s): The time. You've landed in the Mr.

Speaker 4 (1h 6m 16s): Bob. You were very, you were very sweet at the time. You don't,

Speaker 2 (1h 6m 19s): I really wasn't. You shoulda heard me to Andy. I was furious. And even Andy was like, what was he thinking? Landing on the wrong side of the river. It's like, don't ask me. So, so anyway, a couple of immediate lessons were, when I went up to camp, I didn't actually know exactly where the medi kit was and okay. I, we, there only, only five tents and to, to go through and it was in Scott's tent, but actually it was at the back underneath two other bags.

And it's a big me kit. So I found it, but it wasn't a case of just going and grabbing the med kit. And that was a really stupid mistake to start with that we didn't, let's, let's

Speaker 1 (1h 7m 11s): Let stop there for one second. You gave me a list yesterday. Yeah. What you guys did right? And what you did wrong. Can you pull that out? You got it in front of you?

Speaker 2 (1h 7m 22s): Yeah, I do. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (1h 7m 23s): Can you just take us through that? Because it's, it's fantastic and you know, if, if, if certain things need elaboration, go for it. I, you know, they all seem pretty self-explanatory. But I think in terms of the takeaways here, because I, I want to ask more about Andy's injury and Andy how you felt and all those kind of things. But this is a good segue. I think it's a great chance for, for you all to review this as well, but also the listeners because it's, you know, again, we always learn everything too late.

We learn it afterwards. But this it, you know, hopefully this can help all of us listening to learn from your mistakes. And in a sense it wasn't a tragedy, but it was, but it was, you know, things went wrong. And of course we, we learned from that. So take us through that first. What, what did you do? Right?

Speaker 2 (1h 8m 13s): Yeah, so I think one of the things we did right was we spoke to everyone. You know, I reached out reaching out to Antoine, Tom Olo, Jake Holland, other people who, who who've flown, flown there as well, logistics wise. Speaking to the head of the Pakistani Paragliding Association, advance Jasmine Tours, Brad Sander, who was super helpful as well. I also spent a bit of time talking to Fabian Blanco, just about the mental side.

And you know, what, what did he see as the, the biggest potential gotchas for us? And he particularly talked about the exposure aspect and that you needed to be, you may not be able to get the same exposure, but make sure you have some exposure. Put yourself in situations which are uncomfortable because you don't want the first uncomfortable situation. You have to be over the Baltoro. It's 6,000 something meters and things going a bit wrong. And you having no, no capacity to deal with that 'cause you've never had to deal with it before.

Good advice. Then the next one we did right was from a medical perspective, I reached out to Matt Wilkes and he nearly joined us, but work meant that he couldn't, but he put together a comprehensive list of what we should have. And Andy's wife's actually a former expedition doctor as well and she sort of helped too. So, so, you know, we covered that, the logistics, the flying, the mental side of things. We also made sure that we all had appropriate adequate insurance, global re we all had global rescue, we all had good travel insurance.

We all had paid the garment bid as well. We, and we were, we all knew that we all had that, that was something that was super important. We all did a lot of prep, although, you know, it was quite different in terms of what we did. And then equipment wise, we had, we had an Excel spreadsheet running on Google Docs, so everyone could compare, we could see what everyone had. I think we made pretty good choices on wings and reserves.

One thing I would recommend though is check your reserves gonna fit into your harness before you buy the really expensive, really large reserve, because you're not gonna be able to sell it back again. So that was a bit of an error. Then I, I think, you know, I was very lucky I managed to get some sponsorship from Virgin, from my wing. The, there were few connections to, in terms of Richard, Branson went to the same school as me. He did all sorts of aviation stuff, which is pretty crazy.

And I managed to get it to someone reasonably high there and they just loved the idea and they were like, yeah, we'd love to support this. And for them it, I wasn't asking for, for the trip to be sponsored. It was something that I was doing anyway, so, so they were happy to, and you know, I'm hoping to go back next year acclimatization wise, and this also goes to the exposure thing. The other guys went to, to Hunza. I did a whole bunch of s i v on my own, which doing ss i v with someone on the radio is very different from just going out and pulling stalls on your own.

Also then mountain flying and with Scott and with Andy flying in the, in the Northern Cape, sort of pushing, putting yourself somewhere where if things go wrong, it's going to be consequential very quickly. Then I would say the buddy flying, we we did, we did it. And even when Andy said, ah, you don't need to bother, you're only, we're within gliding distance of, of landing. We, we, we actually still stood by the, the buddy flying rules. And I think, you know, that ultimately was very important.

Hmm. We then with the in reaches inReach comms are not that easy if you don't get it set up properly in advance. And that getting that right and having the right message in the admin section, so including your health insurance details, your travel insurance details, your credit card details, that we are paraglider Pilots, if we've crashed it's serious, we're going to need immediate help. And you know, we, we survived, we're all alive, we're all still friends and that's, that's not always a given.

Hmm. So those, those I think are the things that I would say we did. Right. I dunno if anyone has anything they want to add to that.

Speaker 4 (1h 12m 49s): I think we did the, I i, sorry, I'm gonna be a little bit more esoteric and say the the first thing we did right was to, to dream big enough to go and do this. Because that's also, it's, it's, it's, I mean, Bob's is going gonna go through a very well put together list of things that we could have done better or that we did wrong. But going, putting the effort into to doing something like this, going to, everybody seems to think that Pakistan is really far off place that is, is dangerous and hard to get to.

Like, these things are a possibility with the right things in place with the right suppliers. I mean, we've mentioned Jasmine tours a number of times, but also because they were so good with the organization on the front end, but when things went wrong, they were very good with things on the back end as well. These things are, like, these trips are, are, are more possible than what people think. So one thing, so, so back to big thing we did right is all actually put the time aside aside and have, have and and yeah.

Like actually have a crack at it. Yeah. And yeah,

Speaker 1 (1h 14m 6s): We've only got this 1, 1 1 time on this rock. We might as well go for it. We might as well crack have a crack at things, but yeah, absolutely. Sure, sure. Okay. So what, what did you, what, what things that you could have improved?

Speaker 2 (1h 14m 19s): Yeah, so to the extent I've already touched on it, we had numerous protocols in place like Buddy flying and stuff, but in reality we should have had more. And there are elements where we should have had more robust agreements in advance. And it's something I discussed with Matt Wilkes yesterday as well, just to get his take because, you know, he, he's been an expedition doctor on a lot of expeditions and he flies and he's, he was just, I thought he'd be a useful person to bounce things off in advance.

And you know, overall his view is we did well, you know, when when, when things went wrong, we, we did a pretty decent job between us in terms of getting, getting everyone, everyone got out alive and, you know, but things we didn't do, which we should have done, we didn't all have medicals. You know, in some ways I'm probably apart, aside from Jeremy, probably I'm younger than Andy and Pierre and probably fit. No, you're middle aged Bob's you're middle aged.

Yeah, I'm still middle aged, but I do a lot. But, but we didn't have an agreed fitness standard that, that, that we needed to be at. And we didn't have medicals done. All, all of us. And we really should have done

Speaker 1 (1h 15m 33s): By medicals you mean going to have a cardiac test and that kind of thing? Like this kind of stuff you do before the ex house. Okay.

Speaker 2 (1h 15m 39s): So, so when I, when I did a expedition race, adventure race a few years ago, we all had to go and do a b o two max test, sort of, you know, where and where they did the whole eec, the E C G, and they had proper cardiologists to, to actually do the analysis of that to make sure that there wasn't anything funky that was going on with your heart as, because that's obviously, if you're doing anything like that, that that's kind of an important thing. So, so that, that was something which was, was really a big miss.

I and but it's still possible that had we done that, Andy's one might not have been picked up. Yeah,

Speaker 1 (1h 16m 18s): Sure. If

Speaker 2 (1h 16m 19s): If, if he had really pushed it hard on, on the treadmill, it probably would've been particularly if a cardiologist had had, had done the review and they'd been able to, to look at the ischemia according to that's what Matt said then Yeah, it would probably have been picked up, but as if that hadn't been done, if it's just been a go for a medical Yeah, you're facing and healthy, it would've, he would've come out. He would've come out clean.

Speaker 1 (1h 16m 45s): Yeah. And from what I, from what I know, I mean Matt would know a lot more than this and I'm sure you guys talked about it, but from what I know about altitude is it's, it's a really fickle beast as well. You know, I mean, like you said, you know, Andy's had all this experience at altitude and spent so much time, never had any trouble. You know, I've, I've had friends that have gotten really hypoxic at 13 grand, you know, where they've, where you wouldn't even have usually turned on your oxygen. Just a little bit too much coffee the night before. Not very good sleep.

Maybe a beer too many, you know, there's a lot of things that can affect our physiology on the day, you know, the next day could have been totally fine at eight from what I understand. It's, it's just, yeah, no, no,

Speaker 2 (1h 17m 26s): Things

Speaker 1 (1h 17m 27s): Are really peel blood,

Speaker 2 (1h 17m 28s): Blood gets thicker. Yeah. Because you've got extra hemoglobin. Yeah. You've got extra red blood cells, so your blood becomes naturally more stodgy. Yeah. And, and so hydration, you need to stay extra hydrated to keep your blood thin enough. And one of the things that Andy did really well was he stuffed eight aspirin down his, his neck when, when, when he found the aspirin in the thing, didn't have the spray, but we had, we had aspirin and he nailed eight aspirin and that was, that was pretty damn important to saving his life.

So, so, but yeah, then you know, we, we probably sh we did all have, we had the right equipment, the terrain, but everyone should have equipment, terrain, exposure, experience. And I think you can't necessarily get the terrain, but the exposure can always be done in a different way. And then acclimatization, I would acclimatized in a tent, I'd done my reading on it and I was comfortable that I was happy that that was a, that was a, a valid proper acclimatization that I'd have done.

But I never actually checked in with Andy and with Scott and Pierre and Jeremy as, are you guys happy with me doing that as acclimatization? And, and actually that's something that, you know, the checking in with each other and making sure that everyone is happy with it, each of the protocols in advance is super important. 'cause it can take a small thing that can, can really derail an expedition. And yeah, that was then that brings us onto the first aid kit.

We didn't actually know what was and was not in it. We, we had an original list and then it was, it was paired down to make, make the, the, to make it more manageable in terms of just, you know, there's only so much stuff you can take, but probably was a mistake not to just have one person Absolutely. In charge of the, the medical side of things.

You know, talking to Matt last night, had he been the expedition doctor for us, he would've insisted that we all had medicals in a box. That's something you, you just would've done. But he wasn't, he, he was providing ad hoc advice, which was super helpful, but actually probably not the best, you know, not what he would've done if he was engaged in a, in a more professional capacity. If that makes sense.

Speaker 1 (1h 20m 14s): If you, if you do this again, sounds like you are, you're planning on doing this next year, would you have an expedition doctor on scene?

Speaker 2 (1h 20m 22s): I'm going with Matt.

Speaker 1 (1h 20m 23s): No, I know you are, but I but I'm, I'm saying, I'm saying

Speaker 2 (1h 20m 26s): He he's the expedition doctor.

Speaker 1 (1h 20m 28s): Yeah, no, I know, but I'm saying, I'm saying, you know, just in the future, let's say you didn't have access to Matt, would that be somebody you would, would pay for? Would that just be, is that, is that a mandatory or is that, you know, no,

Speaker 2 (1h 20m 41s): No, not for me. I think if you've done, if you've done the right things in advance and you've agreed all the protocols in advance and you have an evacuation plan organized and you've, in effect, you've done a lot of the stuff that, that say an expedition doctor would do. And, and a lot of this is just an awful lot of this is just admin and protocols and making sure that you've done the work in advance. And, and that's, we did quite a lot of it.

We just didn't do all of it. And, and the point is, it's just making sure that you've done enough. And I don't think, you know, in a lot of instances, w would an expedition doctor make a, make a difference? Well, if you've got the right pills there, that's gonna help if, you know, should you have a, a DFI in that sort of situation, well in reality, DFI is gonna help for a little bit, but it might, it might help, but is the DFI gonna be with you?

Speaker 1 (1h 21m 42s): Yeah, gotcha. The, the, I mean when we take our WFR training and paramedic training and you know, even even first aid, you know, simple C P R at the Y M C A, you know, it's always scenario based, right? They always, they don't talk about it and then you're done and you go to the next thing, you talk about it and then you do it and you have a victim and you go through it. You know, it seems to me the, the one, the thing I hear over and over and over again in incidents like the ones that you guys had are things like the inReach setup.

You can't buy the inReach and get the plan and assume it's all gonna work. You know, you've gotta go through it, you've gotta make sure that you've got the check marks in your social thing. So everybody that knows where you are can also message you. And you've gotta have the contact set up and you've gotta have it paired with your phone. And they're brilliant, amazing devices that are, you know, we had, we had these cat phones for the X Alps two weeks ago that, you know, have satellite technology. So in theory you don't need the inReach, but in the reality they didn't work like that.

You know, they, they, you know, the inReach is still the defacto device that we all need to have, but you've also gotta know how to use 'em. And you know, these are, these are little things that can get swept under the rug when you've got a big expedition because there's so many things, you know, that have to go that you know, your, your groups when you're flying, just a way to contact somebody if Andy, you know, if it hadn't gone out, gone as well as it did and you know who to contact, you know who, who are, you know, you gotta have a list like you said.

And so it sounds like you guys did a lot of that, right. But it's just, there's always these little things that are, you know, what I'm, what I'm getting at is it, it's nice to play through, okay, what if let's actually go through the what if and get to the end and, and you know, what's in the medical kit, let's open it up. And you know what, what if somebody has a heart attack, do we know how to deal with that?

Speaker 2 (1h 23m 51s): Yeah, absolutely. And, and I think, you know, one of the things, the first time Andy actually said heart attack was in his message to, to Garmin when, when he pressed the s o s button, at which point, because after he'd landed and I said, look, do we need to press the S os? He said, no, I don't think so. And I was like, okay, I'm gonna outsource this. I'm gonna ask my brother who's a doctor and I'm gonna ask Matt Wils now by out try. The fact that I had those as potential contacts meant that I sort of, I kind of took that responsibility away from myself to an extent.

Which was a, which was something that makes me very glad that Andy's okay because, you know, I know enough in terms of having done enough different first aid kit courses, stuff I should have known. And I should have just been like, no, we're pressing the bloody button. The fact that I was like, I'm not sure about this. I want to check with a book. A doctor is really me saying, no, I want to press the button, but, 'cause I respect you and you're a bit of a legend, I'm gonna, but he didn't ever tell me my pain level in the air was eight. I thought I was gonna die tho those things came out, but they didn't come out till the next day.

And it's, so the other part is being really honest. Oh,

Speaker 1 (1h 25m 2s): We all have egos.

Speaker 2 (1h 25m 4s): It was it being really honest about what's happened. And Scott, you know, initially as I, I think I've sprained my ankle and he is like, yeah, I'm in a lot of pain. But actually realistically, he was never walking out of that. There was no way he was gonna be able to walk out of that. And Andy was never gonna be walking out of that. We should have been press, we should have pressed those buttons straight away. And I think we didn't have any protocols of who makes that decision. What are the circumstances, what needs to be true. And had we done that, it, it may have meant that he got to hospital a day earlier.

It might not have done, but it, it it could have done. And that could, in a different scenario have made the difference between life and death and, you know, it was a pretty uncomfortable night.

Speaker 1 (1h 25m 46s): That's, that's Tom Ddo Lados. That's Tom Ddo Lado saying that I rely on all the time. If there's doubt, there is no doubt. And especially I think, and I, I know I'm just adding in out you guys did an amazing job, but the, you know, especially everybody's got global rescue, why the hell not, you know, press the damn button.

Speaker 2 (1h 26m 6s): Ab Absolutely. And you know that, that night is not a night I'll ever forget. Waking up every hour. Hey Andy, are you still with us? Yes.

Speaker 4 (1h 26m 16s): We, we took shifts. We took shifts every hour one of us would, would shout across to Andy or go knock on his tent. Andy you okay over there? Yeah, I'm fine.

Speaker 1 (1h 26m 32s): So Andy, let's, let's switch to you here for a second. Well, rich, we'll come back to your, the list 'cause there there's a lot more learning there, but I'm just wondering, what what's your frame of mind as this is going on? How are you feeling? How scared were you? Are you feeling like you're gonna pull through or are you really kind of questionable? I mean obviously you've, you've got the, the face that you're showing to your friends and you're being brave, but how, how are you actually feeling?

Speaker 3 (1h 26m 58s): Okay, so I've just landed, you know, the, you know, the heart's thumping away chest pains and everything like that. I'm very good at centering and, and staying calm and that's what I needed to do. So I, so I basically put my hat on and, and I told Bob, I'm just gonna calm down. And I lay there in the blazing sun and just tried to relax myself. 'cause I, I, I thought that's what it would take. And it did the, you know, the, the chest pains and the, and the breathlessness and everything came in waves and it stopped and it started and stopped and started because everything's internal.

I was still trying to control it. I still didn't believe it was a heart attack at the time. I, I, I mean it was dawning on me, but I, but I never felt like I was gonna drop dead with a catastrophic heart failure. So I was just trying to calm down, you know, slow the breathing, slow the heart rate down. What actually helped was not the oxygen, it was taking all the aspirin, you know, that's the, that's, that is the platelets.

And then, you know, subsequent to all of this, I found out that the type of heart attack I had was called a endemic, which is, it's still life threatening, but it's not catastrophic. So it's a blockage of the, one of the arterial veins. So not enough blood and oxygen's getting into your heart, but it doesn't cause muscular damage of the heart. So while I'm lying there, I'm thinking, I can do this, it's gonna be okay.

You know, looking at the faces of my family and, you know, just trying to get myself calmed down. So I knew at the time that, you know, this was a serious medical emergency and I needed to get out of the sun up to the tent with a cup of hot tea inside me and then to discuss when to push the s o s button. So as it turned out, we could have pushed it an hour earlier, but as it turned out, it wasn't a, it wasn't a major issue delaying that hour.

I think if I was unconscious or with, you know, greater and more severe symptoms, Barbs would definitely have come to the aid and, you know, called for rescue immediately. But I think it worked out okay anyway, so then once you press that s a ss button, you can't press it. It's like, you know, shit happens around the world and it's, yeah, it, it's the second time I've been rescued. The first time was when I broke my knee base jumping in a remote place landing.

And it's, and it's quite humbling actually knowing that it's now out of your control. You can't get, I mean, there's no way I could've walked out for two days and 35 degree heat with a unstable heart. So it was really humbling to be able to, you know, basically let go and let global rescue, let my friends come and help me. And that's exactly what happened. So the next day I was chop it out in the military helicopter. It was actually quite cool talking to the Pakistani pilot to a military hospital Inka, where they stabilized me putting in blood thinning drugs and made it so that I was out of danger, you know, with ECGs and air echo scans and things.

And they enabled it such that I'd be able to travel back to South Africa, which happened a few days later. And I went to see a cardiologist here in Cape Town and the next day they put a stent in one of the veins in my heart. And it's a pretty common thing for middle-aged men. And the prognosis is looking good in about two weeks time I'm gonna do a stress test on a treadmill and they're gonna put the electrodes on sea and then I'll be able to see what I can and do after that.

But pretty much the outcome was great and I'm, I I'm still around, we're all still friends. There was a lot that we could have done better, which Bob's is going through, but I see it as a very successful expedition actually, funnily enough, the after my heart attack and the whole he back, there were two more days of flying and then it started raining. So, ah, I actually didn't blow the blow the rest of their holiday too.

Too bad. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (1h 31m 45s): Nice. Yeah. Awesome. And, and Andy, you know, prognosis sounds pretty good. What does your future expeditioning look like? Is it, is it less, is it the same? Can you go back? Would you want to go back? You know, I, I imagine the mountains are, are still calling just as strongly as they always have in a lifetime full of Alpine.

Speaker 3 (1h 32m 7s): Yeah, I would definitely like to go back. I would plan things differently and make lot the camping in pa a lot more comfortable. It's really dusty and really dirty and if you've got a nice comfortable base, then it's quite nice to do that. I would do things differently, definitely with a physical and I would acclimatize better and, and that would entail spinning a lot longer and acclimatizing a lot more slowly, like in the mountaineering sense, that's what Anine and Jake and Beso were doing.

And Hunza, they were in Hunza for a month when we were there and now they're in the belt right now also for another month. I think that for a person my age, I think you need to be a lot more focused and a lot more clued up on your acclimatization. We thought we could just wing it with oxygen, but it didn't really work. You know, the heart attack was caused by not really being acclimatized. There weren't that many contributing factors.

Smoking was one of them. I used to smoke a lot and, but, but you know, but ultimately the, the, it was the altitude so acclimatization comes becomes very important.

Speaker 1 (1h 33m 27s): Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure, sure. Okay. Barbs back to your list. Let's, let's take us through that. Yeah,

Speaker 2 (1h 33m 33s): I'll try and run through it a bit, bit, bit quicker. So one of the other things we, we didn't do was really agree what, what, what is, is not acceptable and that, that was a bit of a mistake. So for example, on the first day I actually, 'cause I hadn't been there, I once to test out my setup and I wanted to make sure I didn't suffer from altitude. So I had my oxygen on full, full blast from the start because it's like we had these two massive cylinders, but it looked like it was running low. It actually turned out it wasn't really running that low, it was just that the angle that it was in my jacket meant that it looked like it was running low.

But we went back and Jeremy and Pierre carried on and they, they, they said they, they got pretty close to landing on the ba on the bow tore they got, they got super low, which sort of wasn't something I was te desperately sort of happy about when they told, told us that. 'cause that for me was with what we'd said, with what we knew about it and the fact that, you know, landing there should be almost in itself just be perceived as a major incident.

We, but we never actually had that conversation in advance. You know, what would our views be if someone landed

Speaker 1 (1h 34m 48s): Really clear directives and yeah,

Speaker 2 (1h 34m 50s): It's the, yeah, it's up to it. It was kind of, everything was kind of still up to each other even though obviously it would potentially have a massive impact on the whole expedition. And to the same st extent there was How far away if we're buddy flying, how far is too far? You know, when, when I buddy flown in South Africa with, with Andy, I'm sure it's the same in Sun Valley. You stays super close 'cause it is amazing how quickly you can lose someone and you stay on the radio and, and again, we didn't have those agreed wasn't really a problem.

But we probably should have had, look you, we kind of stay in the same thermal. If we are going, we say we are going the other person it's agreed that they're coming with or if they're not happy then they say they're not happy. We didn't have that done so that, that was not, I do. How

Speaker 1 (1h 35m 39s): How much had you guys, the five of you, how much had you flown together before this trip?

Speaker 2 (1h 35m 45s): Never apart, I've flown with Andy a lot. I've flown with Scott quite a lot, but I hadn't really flown with the, the other two have flown a lot together, so, so sort of there, there was that they, they kind of knew how they flew together,

Speaker 4 (1h 36m 1s): But then we'd all, so four of us had all flown in in hun 12 days together. So again, that's one of those, that's one of those things as well. It's is, yeah, it's all, it would be good to spend, spend that little bit more time, time together before you push for the, for the big one.

Speaker 1 (1h 36m 23s): You, you guys are all, you guys are all still friends. I don't wanna throw a question that would put a a, a knife in that, but you know what I thought about, the first thing I thought about Richard when you, when you told me about the expedition and the number, the first, the first red flag for me was that's too many people. Would you, did you find too many, too little? You know, I just, for me managing more than one other person gets really tricky. You know, the, the the, the odds of an accident of something going wrong, you know, the, like you said, the medical kit.

What if the one person that knows the medical kit, what if he's the one that has the, it's just there's, there's just, there's there's difficulty in numbers. Would you, did that present itself as a problem during this? It doesn't seem like it, but it, I'm just wondering not,

Speaker 2 (1h 37m 11s): I think the fact that you, to an extent we were sort of almost two buddy pairs plus then Scott was sort

Speaker 4 (1h 37m 19s): Of attached

Speaker 2 (1h 37m 19s): To Andy and I, in, in a way is, was my perception of it. So it

Speaker 1 (1h 37m 24s): Was kind of two pairs. It was the three of you and the two of them? Yeah. Okay. It was

Speaker 2 (1h 37m 26s): Kind of two pairs with, with with Scott sort of there, there as well was my take. I dunno if you would agree with that guys. That's that's a

Speaker 4 (1h 37m 34s): Well, but, but I think just to Gavin's points, actually to the contrary, I think the five of us as five people were, everybody had valid input. Everybody had had a piece to play in the organization and the prep, you know, equipment list and all of that. That, that was very much a, from my perspective, easier as a group of five. Okay. I think the flying thing, I mean we, we agreed that we'd split always split into two or two three and we agreed, you know, and, and we'd always split into two pairs and then the third could choose depending on the circumstance, who they, who they spun off with.


Speaker 1 (1h 38m 19s): So so it worked and you guys kind of had a, had a protocol and

Speaker 4 (1h 38m 23s): Yeah, I don't think the numbers thing, I think, I think, I think the numbers thing was, was part of our, this our success to this whole thing. Okay, cool. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (1h 38m 33s): Yeah. So, so then, you know, one of the the things and spoke to Matt about this last night was smoking. I, I gave up alcohol for six months before going, and for me before going alcohol for a day is quite, quite a thing. I don't, it was like before going alcohol. I, I love it. So, so, so when, when, when, when, when and when Andy when, when Andy and Scott were smoking, I was not, I was not happy. So that was, that was an issue that, that for me was just something that I wasn't very happy with, but we hadn't agreed in advance and because we hadn't agreed in advance, I couldn't say, no, don't smoke, you know, but that was something I felt we should have done.

Okay. Then the next one, obviously don't become a casualty and then be realistic about the pro about your injuries and symptoms. That's super important. And actually one of the weird ones is speak to Garmin and go global rescue in advance. Garmin started calling loved ones before they actually started getting onto Global rescue. I have no idea why they were doing that. And they did this when I went rescued a mate from Nepal last year. They, they, they, they spoke, they, they spent to the ca the casualties family before they went to the insurance company.

And I'm like, why would you do that? Just get, get on with getting the evacuation. The the last thing, people don't need to know the person, by the way, your husband's having a heart attack, he's stuck in the middle of nowhere. What they want to hear is your husband's being evacuated. It would be far more useful. So wait,

Speaker 1 (1h 40m 6s): This is Garmin did this.

Speaker 2 (1h 40m 8s): Yeah.

Speaker 1 (1h 40m 9s): Holy

Speaker 4 (1h 40m 10s): Crap. Gar crap.

Speaker 1 (1h 40m 11s): I gotta gar talk to them. I was just talking to Garmin this morning. I will let them know

Speaker 2 (1h 40m 14s): Not

Speaker 1 (1h 40m 15s): I love, that's not how you triage. That's crazy.

Speaker 2 (1h 40m 17s): It it's, it, it's, it's nuts. And, you know, and, and then there was a whole process that went through and then it gets to global rescue and what have you. And it, it, it just certainly that was what we understood happened and it certainly seems to have been what happened on the two incidents I've been involved in. Yeah. Wow.

Speaker 4 (1h 40m 34s): Interesting. So Garman, Garman phoned, Garman phoned and Andy Andy's button got pushed. Garman phoned Andy's wife, she wasn't in Signal. She, they then phoned second down the line, Andy's son who gave them my wife's number, they phoned my wife and all they could say was somebody's had a heart attack. So they didn't actually, so all they did was create a little bit of panic amongst everyone.

Speaker 1 (1h 41m 6s): Okay, now, now I'm, now I'm thinking about this. Okay, so we put in who to contact in an emergency. And so that's obviously what they're doing. So their protocol is to, you know, if you press the s o s you know you have the two emergency numbers, your primary, your secondary, that must just be their protocol to do that automatically. That's interesting. No, we are,

Speaker 2 (1h 41m 31s): We're not the one which is in your notes saying, cool, here's my insurance details, here's the insurance number.

Speaker 1 (1h 41m 37s): Oh boy, that'd be a big thing to straighten out because there's, you know, that's, that's how they have it set up. But this is an interesting, God, that is their protocol though. That's an interesting thing to,

Speaker 4 (1h 41m 48s): And this I actually said to Barbs yesterday, I said, it may be that that's their protocol because they need the next of the next of kin, the listed person to, to they need to talk to somebody that can make decisions. And that is, that would normally be your second listed person. This is

Speaker 1 (1h 42m 9s): A fascinating subject though,

Speaker 4 (1h 42m 11s): Because would be my, would would be my interpretation of why they always phone the next of kin. Yes. They do the same in a medical, in standard in in other medical things. You know, if you go cold on the operating theater, the first thing they do is they phone the next of kitten and they, they open discussions with them. But as Bob's is saying, it would be preferable that they've phoned their phone, you know, that they've phoned the, the insurance people first and get on the rescue side before they get on the alerting, everyone.

Speaker 1 (1h 42m 42s): So I I, I think there's, there's two really good things here for all of us and for the listeners, the, the first thing, and that's how Richard, that's how you and I connected first, but the, the, the first thing we should think about as a community is who, who are the two people we want on there? You know, for example, right now I've got my wife as the primary after hearing this story, that's the last person I want to know that be told, if something severe happens to me, I want my buddy Nate Scales, who's a paramedic, who's a pilot, he knows everything about me.

He knows my wrist tolerance and he knows how to get into action. And he was part of the whole Kiwi incident here. You know, I you want people like that to know that something has happened and can put it into, you know, when I threw my reserve here before the last X Alps, you know, I, that was the person I contacted. So maybe we as a community need to think about, okay, who do we put on as the primary and secondary? Secondly, I will call Garmin and give them this feedback, but I don't think that's gonna change. I think that that's probably their, you know, higher up protocol.

That's probably a legal thing or something. But it's, but it is interesting. I mean the first thing they should do obviously is, is, and I think they do do is it goes the, the call Garmin doesn't do the rescue, it's the I E R C C. It goes to them, you know, they take over. So it's probably for them it's just, it's just protocol. They're just following the A, B C.

Speaker 2 (1h 44m 3s): Yeah. So, so, so one of the other things from that was actually, you know, having the, we would've been better off just calling Jasmine er messaging Jasmine tours who would've contacted the military immediately and they've sent a helicopter. Yeah. Now that, interesting. That actually would've been far more effective than anything else. So

Speaker 1 (1h 44m 25s): That, this is a good one. I want to stall on this, you know, the, you know, rescues, we, we had an incident here in Sun Valley a a few years back where a buddy went in hard, broke his leg and you know, there were 15 of us in the sky that day and all but a couple knew that it was going on and we landed and we organized our own rescue. I mean, that was what the, the article on the website is built on was, was this incident that goes into the insurance and the whole thing because if we had just hit the s o ss relied on, on standard authorities to, to save this guy, it was the same thing with Kiwi.

Our community is way more resourced. The paragliding community, the flying community in general is, is way more resourced than outsourcing it. You know, we've got the skills, we've all been there, we've, we have the contacts, we can do it much, much, much faster within our own community. So that is something that, you know, depending on where you are, most of the time it's hit the s oss. If there's doubt, there is no doubt. But depending on where you are, you may very well be able to organize and handle the rescue and, and especially if there's a search involved way faster through your own community.

So that's Yeah, good point.

Speaker 2 (1h 45m 46s): Yeah. So, so, so interconnected with that is, you know, after a couple of stories, I've got my in in the notes, I have my credit card number, so if in doubt get a helicopter, I'll deal with it later. Here's my credit card. That's a good one. The problem with that is they don't seem to really read those notes. That seems to be the last thing that, that, that happens. And I also now have connected to that a Google, I have a Bitly link, which goes to a Google spreadsheet of, of useful contacts, which just my way of trying to, trying to make sure airplane, that, that, that that can happen.

That's interesting. Yeah. It's just, just, but it only works if it gets the right person. And you know, in South Africa, I know if people who've pressed the inReach and it's not worked because they've, they've contacted the wrong, the wrong people and because in different regions it's different people and dug Garmin or the I R E C or whoever it is, does it get to the right person? So, so now when I go there, I have a, I have the local numbers, it's like right here are the helicopter numbers, but actually should I be putting those in my emergency contact?

I don't know. And that's, if, if you can help the community with that, that would be something that would be ethically useful and it

Speaker 4 (1h 47m 6s): Would, but I think Gavin you this

Speaker 2 (1h 47m 8s): Thing feel like we've done the right thing.

Speaker 4 (1h 47m 10s): Your point is that actually that first person of contact, especially for a trip like this might be a trusted, a trusted friend with a, who's already had a basic brief of, if you get this call, please will you, will you execute these, these instructions accordingly? Yeah, I the deal with the Mayhem, the Mayhem that ensues.

Speaker 1 (1h 47m 34s): I, I, I, well I I like both these things. I mean one, you know, Richard, the, the, the e the more information you could put out there to someone potentially helping that's not in your community, the better, you know, the Bitly link, the credit card number, all those kind of things. I, I had never even thought of that. So that's fantastic information that we can definitely put in the o s notes. You know, when Kiwi disappeared in Nevada, they, it, they looked at his o ss notes when I, when I got global, it was global rescue. When I got them on the phone, they had all, they'd, they'd seen all that stuff.

So that was useful. The other thing, you know, to your point, Scott, I, I'm just just thinking about this in my personal case, I've got Maddie, my wife as the first one, she wouldn't know how to do anything, but she would call my buddy Nate. But I, so I think what I need to do is, you know, first thing she'd think of is I gotta call Nate, you know, he would know how to deal with this. So I think just having my,

Speaker 4 (1h 48m 29s): My wife did the same thing. She phoned my mate Aiden, who was sailing down the front face of Table Mountain at the time. Of course, yeah. Looked, he

Speaker 1 (1h 48m 37s): Was, yeah, that's the risk. As our buddies are out to something cool,

Speaker 4 (1h 48m 40s): Sonya, well, he looked at the phone and he was like, Sonya doesn't normally call me. There must be a problem. Yeah. And he answered the phone. Yeah. And dealt with it. I guess

Speaker 1 (1h 48m 49s): It's just important, it's important for us to know that as a community, okay, hey, hey, garment's gonna call first and then second they're gonna call your primary and secondary. Who do you want that to be? That may not be your wife, it may be, but it, it may be somebody who's, you know, used to dealing with these kind of incidents on a regular basis. Might

Speaker 2 (1h 49m 8s): It be the insurance company? That would be my question to them. Should we put our insurance company in that or should we put Global rescue actually in that?

Speaker 1 (1h 49m 16s): Yeah, may, maybe, maybe Global Rescue. But then, you know, you, you want, you wanna have the, you know, your Policy number and all those kind of, that's a really good question because in my experience, it really depends on who you get on the other line. Now, the, the protocol, the very, very important thing, which I'm sure you guys learned from an insurance perspective, from a reimbursing perspective, is when an incident happens. I've got a one pager now that we're gonna distribute to everybody here, here shortly because of these kind of things.

And, and it needs to be more on triaging, but the, the one pager is basically Buddy goes down, something has happened, the insurance needs to know as soon as possible, you know, they need to be notified as soon as possible, whether this should be the primary or secondary. I'm not. I have to think about that more. I don't know. That's a good, that's a really good question. I'd never thought about that. It's a really good question. But for sure, you know, someone in, I think that's more of a, from your group, you know, the, the spreadsheet that you created that has all the information of everybody, you know, basically it starts to get very risky if you start taking helicopter flights and having things happen in the, in the hospital after the, and, and the actually that that all has happened before you've contacted the insurance company.

You know, the earlier they are aware of what's going on, the better it is for you to be reimbursed. That's what it comes down to with insurance.

Speaker 2 (1h 50m 47s): Yeah, yeah. But I just wonder whether, you know, if you've got the policy, because you have all that detail in the admin section, but if you have, it's just, if that means it's the first people they contact,

Speaker 1 (1h 50m 58s): It's a good, it's a good question. I, I, I just don't know, I don't know if you want them involved in that kind of a thing because it's insurance. I'm always a little wary of that, but it's a great question that I need to get a better answer to.

Speaker 2 (1h 51m 11s): Cool. And I think really that's, you know, we've got, it's also just, just having that key thing information in there, which is just the full from the, the, the full, from full from height where Paraglider Pilots let them know that it's going to be some, you know, paraglider, Pilots full from height, just so we've got that.

Speaker 1 (1h 51m 36s): Yeah. The, you know, I'm a, that's what I have in my notes, you know, I'm a paraglider pilot, you know, the, the chance of a spinal injury are, are high. You know, just, just so they, just so they know that I think that that's important. Well, guys, great stuff. I'm glad everybody's still friends and although it looks like fists are gonna be thrown across the ponder maybe a little bit in the future, but I'm, I'm glad y'all made it back and, you know, a great end to a pretty scary situation, Andy.

I'm glad you're to hear you're still gonna be chasing it in the mountains. The world deserves that and you're all stellar. I'm, I'm, I look forward to talking to Pierre and, and Jeremy, but especially Pierre about his X Ops campaigns and some other stuff. So thanks for reaching out in, in terms of suggestions for that. But Scott heal up quick. It looks like you're, you're way more hurt than Andy, so if y'all could see the little scooter that Scott's riding around on and, and his wrist and so yeah. Better landings to you, my friend and yeah, in, in the future.

But thanks for sharing your story and for all these terrific lessons and, and thanks for sharing your time, guys, I appreciate it.

Speaker 2 (1h 52m 47s): Thank you, Andy. Thank you Gavin, thank you Andy. And I'm going to, I'm going out to fly with them in November, December, so, so we are still friends. I, I'm sure, I'm sure I might get a dead arm from Scott, but that's fine.

Speaker 1 (1h 53m 1s): Fantastic. Bob's always

Speaker 2 (1h 53m 2s): Is a bit of a beating. Thanks

Speaker 1 (1h 53m 4s): Very much Gavin. Thanks a lot. Nice. Thanks guys. Appreciate it. Thanks a lot. Cheer. Alright,

Speaker 2 (1h 53m 9s): Bye. Cheers.

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