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Vadim Druelle : A Near Miss at Annapurna Base Camp

by thesummiters.com
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Vadim Druelle, a 23-year-old adventurer from France, narrowly escaped disaster during his expedition to Annapurna Base Camp, just as he was gearing up to tackle the mountain without supplementary oxygen.

Annapurna Base Camp. Photo: Vadim Druelle
Annapurna Base Camp. Photo: Vadim Druelle

About a week prior to reaching Base Camp, Druelle fell ill with food poisoning. Upon his arrival he was severely weakened by the sickness but he found some relief the following day, which led him to believe he was on the path to recovery. However his condition took a turn for the worse.

“I began coughing up a strange pinkish foam, and my pulse oximeter showed a reading of only 35.”

In a sudden panic, he felt as though his body was failing him. Consulting a medical book, he realized that the foam was a sign of advanced pulmonary edema.

Acting quickly, he made the decision to leave Base Camp. “It was pure survival instinct,” Druelle remembers. “My mind was in a state of urgency I had never experienced before.”

Administering Dexamethasone to help combat the condition, he managed to descend to a lower altitude. The journey of covering just 20 kilometers felt like the most grueling effort of his life. Upon reaching Pokhara, medical examinations confirmed he was indeed in the advanced stages of pulmonary edema.

Vadim Druelle at the hospital in Pokhara. Photo: Vadim Druelle
Vadim Druelle at the hospital in Pokhara. Photo: Vadim Druelle

Upon consulting with his medical team in Chamonix, it was strongly advised that he refrain from returning to high altitudes. He now must focus on recuperating in France, meaning his ambitious plan to summit Annapurna without oxygen will have to be postponed until the following year.

Druelle, who already boasts experience in low-oxygen environments, having conquered Kangchenjunga, reached the foresummit of Manaslu, and attempted Dhaulagiri I and Lhotse’s South Face without supplemental oxygen, now faces a different kind of challenge: the journey back to health.

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