The death of Per Lyhne on Makalu
October 12th-13th, 1997
as written in the diary by Jan Elleby.
Sunday, October 12th, Per Lyhne and I left Advanced Base Camp (ABC) for Camp
1, 20.000 ft., on our way to Camp 3 to prepare this camp for the summit attempt
of Makalu 1. The same day Per Bager went for Camp 2 to make an attempt on Makalu
2. During the climb to Camp 1, I had a little stomach trouble, but Per Lyhne was
climbing well and reached Camp 1 in less than three hours. But he was by now
acclimatized to almost 23.000 ft. whereas I had not been above Camp 2 yet. On
his way to Camp 1 Per Lyhne met Per Bager going down. Per Bager had had some flu
like symptoms when reaching Camp 1 and decided to go back to ABC to be on the
safe side. Per Lyhne was at this stage feeling fine, although a little hoarse.
In the evening he was as usually annoyed by his cough, and said that it felt
like he was only using a third of his lungs. The same message he had given to
our doctor the day before, who though did not felt called upon to worry, as it
was no change to his general situation. As we went to sleep Per Lyhne was
feeling fine. He has had his cough medicine and a handful of palliative sweets.
During the night I was several times woken up by his cough, which surprised me a little, as he had not before had major problems with nightly cough. I decided to have a word with him the next morning, whether it would be advicable to continue towards Camp 2.
About an hour and a half later I was woken up again by a violent fit of coughing. Per was gasping for air, resulting only in an alarming rattle. Followed by four gasps and then all went quiet. I tried in vain to wake him up, but as I would loosen his clothes to ease his breath, I discovered by chance that there was no pupil reaction.
Instantly I checked pulse and breath, and as I found none, I immediately started administering CPR. For a moment I had the feeling that I felt a heartbeat, but I was wrong. I continued for about half an hour until my headlamp burned out, and then I stopped the treatment, as I considered Per Lyhne to be dead. The time was now 5 a.m., but I assume he has been dead since 4:30 a.m. local time, Monday, October 13th. Per Lyhne was 31 years old, and the whole team is shocked by his death and miss him as the irreplaceable and energetic friend he was. Our thoughts and compassion go to his parents and bereaved family who have suffered the heaviest loss of all.