Thumbs up and a last smile
“On Wednesday October 27, David and Joe started their route on Labuche Kang,” Joe’s widow reported in a brave debrief posted on the expedition website. “It was finally a clear and beautiful day. Joe was very excited about the climb as he and David set out.”
“Early on in the climb they were ascending a knife edge ridge and Joe went ahead to scout the route. David said Joe was smiling and kept looking back giving the thumbs up. Joe went around a rock outcropping and disappeared from sight.”
“David following came around the corner and what appeared to be a continuation of the ridge, had given way and revealed a cornice. Joe had apparently stepped out onto the snow, which gave way and he fell 700 feet to his death. David was able to rappel down to Joe’s body. David reported that Joe died on impact and did not suffer. He was able to retrieve the SAT phone and call.”
“David is devastated, but strong and in good health. He has returned to base camp and is awaiting help from Global Rescue.”
Joe’s widow had something more to say though – a farewell message:
“To Joe, my best friend, lover, and husband: you made the world a beautiful place for not only me but every person whose life you have touched. I am the luckiest woman alive to have spent the last ten years of my life sharing your adventures. I have experienced the greatest happiness and love anyone could ever hope for, especially in this last year. I hold you in my mind as eternally beautiful, with a huge smile and your thumbs up!”
Also, friend Dave Allen submitted a tributary poem titled “Climbers”:
Mountains are the seeds of our souls.
Their faces and ridges help us grow.
Their shadows entice us to seek their secrets.
They offer themselves benignly and take the same.
It is only we who claim victory and suffer sorrow.
And we always will.
Because our souls are the seeds
That make mountains grow.
And they always will.
Joe Puryear and David Gottlieb focused on exploration climbing, forging new routes on isolated Himalayan 7000ers and 6000ers. They climbed light, independently, and documented their expeditions with cool reports and stunning images.
Granted with a Mugs Stump Award, Joe and David Gottlieb were aiming for a new route on Labuche Kang (7,367m) in Tibet.
“We’re heading into the south side of the range to see what kind of new routes we can put up,” Joe told ExplorersWeb priot to departure from Kathmandu.
According to reports, the climbers had faced relentlessly bad weather conditions until given a chance to attempt the summit.
According to the expedition website Joe’s family is grateful for the massive respond from the mountaineering community, and asked supporters to post messages on Joe’s FaceBook website. They have also set up a donation fund to help with the cost of bringing his remains back home. Those interested may check the expedition website.