Local doctor safe after K2 crisis

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A voice message left late Saturday night at the Steamboat Christian Center was welcome news for local resident Sue Alexander and other members of the church.

"It was very comforting," Alexander said of the news that her friend Eric Meyer, M.D., was safe after an avalanche on K2, the world's second tallest mountain, left at least 11 people dead.

On Monday, a Pakistani army helicopter airlifted two frostbitten Dutch climbers from K2, and an Italian climber made his way down with rescue teams. The Associated Press reports that The Ministry of Tourism said the 11 thought dead in one of mountaineering's worst disasters included three South Koreans, two Nepalis, two Pakistanis and mountaineers from France, Ireland, Serbia and Norway.

In an e-mail sent by another member of Meyer's group, expedition leader Mike Farris reported that everyone in the group was safe at base camp, which is below the avalanche that had stranded the other climbers.

Farris' group also included Americans Tim Horvath, Chris Klinke, Ryan Waters; Australian climbers Chris Warner and Paul Walters; Swedish mountaineer Fredrik Strang; and Napal native Chhiring Dorje. Dorje has climbed to the summit of Mount Everest nine times and visited Steamboat Springs last year.

The group arrived at the base camp in the Himalayas in June and was expected to summit the mountain early this month. According to the e-mail, Dorje was the only member to summit. He made it back to the group before the avalanche cut the other climbers off from safety.

"Eric is a really great guy and he's very modest," Alexander said. "He's become an integral part of our church since arriving here. I was thrilled to hear that he is OK, and we are all looking forward to getting him back in Steamboat."

Alexander said she had little idea of what was happening on K2 before hearing the news that Meyer was safe. Since then, she has been watching the news and checking the Internet to find information on the avalanche and its aftermath.

"I'm glad that I knew Eric was OK before I knew what was going on," Alexander said. "I'm just happy he's safe."

K2 is in the Himalayas on the border of Pakistan and China. The peak is about 800 feet lower than Everest, the world's highest peak. However, K2 is considered more dangerous because it is more technical and difficult to climb.

- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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