Traveller Assist received an email from another assistance company to request our help providing a repatriation of mortal remains from Everest base camp.
Even simple cases in Nepal can quickly escalate into a complex case. To make this one even more complex, the weather at base camp had been unseasonably cold, with blustery winds and snow, grounding helicopter flights, meaning we had two choices.
The first, to walk the deceased out from base camp to Lukla airstrip, using our own sherpas who are former British Army Gurkhas. This takes approximately three-days, and we have used this method countless times as an alternative to expensive helicopter rescues for less serious cases.
The second, wait until weather conditions improve, which could have been three-hours, three-days or three-weeks.
There was also an added factor to consider, and that is that the deceased was Jewish and his family were adamant that he be buried within 48-hours. Unfortunately, this was just not possible due to the location.
We provided the family with both choices. They asked a lot of questions about how the deceased would be walked out, and they were concerned about the welfare of the sherpas. While the hike from base camp to Lukla is not considered dangerous, it is not without risk.
The family opted for us to wait until the weather was clear and we could fly the deceased out to a hospital in Kathmandu, via Lukla. Our team booked the helicopter flight with our preferred provider and we waited.
Three days later, the call came that the deceased would arrive in Kathmandu later that day. Our Operations Manager who is based in Kathmandu went to the hospital, and to the airport to complete the required paperwork.
Within 24-hours, our team had successfully repariated the deceased home to Perth, Australia where he was laid to rest the following day.