Doctor to speak in Flathead on historic climbing disaster

Mountain climber brings story of survival and tragedy on K2 to NW Montana

The American climber who survived and treated the victims of the worst mountaineering disaster in Himalayan history is set to visit the Flathead Valley March 28th as part of his acclaimed lecture series recounting the historic event.

Dr. Eric Meyer's series, called K2 2008: Finding Meaning After Tragedy is presented by Missoula-based Talus Outdoor Technologies and Columbia Falls' First Best Place Task Force. It's free and open to the public.
When: Saturday, March 28th 2009 7:00pm
Where: Glacier Discovery Square
540 Nucleus Avenue, Columbia Falls, MT 59912

Dr. Eric Meyer, a Montana native and Colorado-based anesthesiologist, was part of the nine-person International K2 Expedition team that pushed for the summit of K2 in August 2008. While everyone in the Talus-sponsored expedition made it back safely, 11 other climbers lost their lives in snow and ice slides in an area called "The Bottleneck." The Bottleneck sits at about 26,000 feet (8,200M) and is only 1,312 feet (400M) below the summit. Climbers refer to this altitude as the "Death Zone," since at that altitude the human body uses up its oxygen faster than it can be replenished. Dr. Meyer treated many of the survivors brought back to base camp. Most of them had severe frostbite and suffered from dehydration and exhaustion.

One member of the Talus-sponsored team reached the summit. While Dr. Meyer turned back, he would consider tackling the mountain again, using the lessons he learned from this expedition.

“I was challenged as a mountaineer and as a physician caring for members of my team and other teams on the mountain," says Meyer. “We gave it all we had and tried to make the best decisions. When things turned very dangerous, we did the best we could to help those in need.”

Other members of the Talus-sponsored group helped with rescue efforts and used the Talus ColdAvenger mask to deal with the extreme weather. Temperatures reached -30°F and were paired with high winds. Dr. Meyer is using his experience to further his research on the effects of altitude and cold weather on the respiratory system.

K2 is located in the Himalayan mountain range on the border of Pakistan and China, with an elevation of 28,251 feet (8,611 meters). Although K2 is about 750 feet (228 meters) lower than the world's tallest peak, Mount Everest, K2 is widely considered a much more difficult and technical climb. Only 299 people have reached the summit of K2 since it was first reached in 1954, just 15 of whom were Americans. 77 climbers have died trying to reach the summit.

Founded and headquartered in Missoula, Montana, Talus Outdoor Technologiesâ„¢ is a leading innovator in technologically-advanced outdoor gear. Talus is dedicated to helping outdoor enthusiasts Stay Out Longer.â„¢ In 2007, Talus introduced the ColdAvengerâ„¢, an advanced, high-quality cold weather protection mask developed by a physician and a skier. The ColdAvengerâ„¢ is the result of more than two years of research and development testing in Northern Rocky Mountain winters to achieve four functional goals: thermal comfort, ventilation adequacy, moisture control and ease of breathing during exercise. Talus is proud to provide an elite product while being socially and environmentally conscious.

The First Best Place Task Force is a grassroots organization seeking to develop quality of life amenities in our community. The Task Force is dedicated to maintaining the unique small-town character of Columbia Falls, while building on opportunities for outdoor adventure and economic prosperity.