Luis Álvarez of Mexico, finisher of more than 120 Ironman events, fulfilled another dream this weekend - but it came at a price.
According to reports on Álvarez’s Facebook page, the 54-year-old summited the 29,035 foot Mt. Everest on Sunday, but suffered retinal damage in the thin air.
Blinded, Álvarez was helped on the descent by fellow Mexicans Jorge Antonio Salazar and Jorge Hermosillo, who abandoned their own Everest summit attempts to rescue their countryman.
This morning, Luis Álvarez’ son, José Manuel Álvarez, posted encouraging news on his father’s Facebook page: “I talked to my dad in the base camp… He still does not see. But the damage is reversible and we expect the recovery of [his] eyes during the course of these days.”
Chuy Reyes wrote on Facebook that he spoke with a nephew of Álvarez and was told, “The worst is over. Even though he had a bad time and it’s still not over, we’re a little more quiet.”
According to friends he reached by satellite phone and who posted updates on his Facebook page, Álvarez came down to 21,000 feet by this morning: “Great news, Luis just contacted us via satellite phone! It is well and he goes down Everest. Had a small problem with the retina, but is in good condition.”
By reaching the summit of Everest, Álvarez succeeded in his quest to climb the Seven Summits – the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents.
In a Facebook posting late Monday, Mayte Romano wrote: “Tomorrow he will be transported to China. Hope his vision problems are not serious. Prayers for those who have died on this expedition. Continued hope for the struggles of those still in danger.”
According to CNN, four persons have died on Everest this season and two more climbers are missing.
This April was the first month of climbing since all ascents were halted after a deadly avalanche killed 16 Sherpas in one day in 2014 and 19 people were killed in an avalanche at Base Camp following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015. More than 280 persons have died trying to climb Everest. In 1996, 15 persons died in Everest attempts, which were chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air.
Since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first climbed Everest in 1953, more than 4,000 persons have summited the 29,035 foot high mountain. On average, 800 persons attempt to climb Everest every year.