The rescue team did not find Szilárd Suhajda, the search has ended, the Hungarian climber’s background team has written the sad news on the Facebook page of the Békéscsaba mountaineer who disappeared on Mount Everest.
Despite the superhuman work of the search team composed of the best Nepalese mountain guides, Szilárd Suhajda was not found on Mount Everest. They spent hours searching the wider area of the Hillary Steps, where the climber was last seen alive. The Sherpas climbed up and down several times between 8,750 meters and the 8,848-meter peak, looking for Szilárd’s tracks. Considering the time, weather and terrain conditions, there is no further chance of finding the climber alive, so the search has been called off. Currently, the safe return of the Sherpas participating in the search is the priority of the domestic support team – reads the post.
In the early evening of May 25th, the domestic background team learned that a Sherpa from another expedition had seen the Hungarian mountaineer in the morning hours at approximately 8,780 meters, at the bottom of the Hillary Steps. The Sherpa knew Szilárd personally from before, so there was no doubt that he had seen him. When they passed him, he showed signs of life, but there were signs of frostbite and high-altitude cerebral edema. The Sherpa guide was supporting his extremely weakened Chinese client down from the summit, so he was unable to help Szilárd in any way, who was also a little further from the climbing route, and therefore not connected to the secured safety rope. Without rope insurance, his approach would have been life-threatening, the climber’s team writes. In possession of the information, the background team immediately began organizing the rescue after assessing the situation, and in the evening hours agreed with the Nepalese agency providing Szilárd’s base camp background that on the morning of the 26th they would attempt to fly up by helicopter to a height from which they could see Szilárd. At the same time, three sherpas will be launched for Szilárd, who will ideally be able to reach him in the late hours of May 26th.
According to the plans, on the morning of the 26th, the three-member Sherpa team organized for the rescue, including Gelje Sherpa, who was the first to climb K2 in winter, set off to reach Szilárd Suhajda. Renowned Italian mountaineer and helicopter pilot Simone Moro flew them straight from Kathmandu to Camp 2, then went on a reconnaissance flight to scan the south side of the mountain, ruling out the possibility that Szilárd had crashed while climbing. On the 26th, the three Sherpas left Camp 2 at 6400 meters at 10:00 a.m. Nepalese time. They reached camp 4 at 7,950 meters extremely quickly, in seven hours. This trip is three times the time of an average climber spread over two days. Here, a fourth Sherpa and a helper were waiting for them in a tent. One of them planned to join the searchers, the other’s task was to provide the others with food and drink.
Only two hours after their arrival, at 19:15 Nepali time, the three-man team set off in the direction of the Hillary Steps, followed by the fourth team later. They climbed all night, and reached the Hillary steps at dawn. However, they did not find Szilárd Suhajda at the specified location, so they began to systematically search the area. First they climbed all the way to the top and then back to the Hillary Steps. The area around the Hillary Steps was searched fervently, every possible fall line to the right and left of the road, both on the Nepalese and Tibetan sides, as far as they could descend from the fixed ropes. Then, the section under the stairs leading to the South Peak (8750 m) and its visible surroundings were examined, without results. Then, after consultation with the background team, they jointly decided to end the search. On May 28th, a final helicopter flight will be conducted to search the side of the mountain above Camp 2.
Szilár Suhajda was one of the most successful Hungarian climbers
After 16 previous unsuccessful Hungarian expeditions in 27 years, Szilárd Suhajda had a realistic goal of reaching the highest point on Earth without the use of supplemental oxygen and the support of high-altitude load carriers. Climbing Everest without an oxygen bottle is also an outstanding achievement. In the last 45 years – since Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler proved that the task is possible and survivable – such excellent Hungarian alpinists as László Várkonyi, Dávid Klein or the legendary Zsolt Erőss have tried to reach the top without oxygen bottles. According to statistics, less than 2% of successful climbs take place without an oxygen cylinder: an even smaller number is the narrow group of climbers who did not use Sherpa assistance.
Szilárd Suhajda was one of the most successful Hungarian expedition climbers. In 2014, he climbed the 8,051-meter Broad Peak, in 2019 he climbed the 8,611-meter K2 as the first and so far the only Hungarian, and in 2022 he climbed the 8,516-meter Lhoce without the use of supplemental oxygen or the help of high-altitude load carriers. With a height of 8,795 meters on Mount Everest measured by his tracker, Szilárd Suhajda is the only Hungarian who reached the highest point without an oxygen bottle or Sherpas.