FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) — A Wisconsin man who was climbing Mount Everest when a deadly earthquake hit Nepal just weeks ago is finally home. Andy Land returned to the United States on Friday and he’s talking publicly about his experience.
Andy Land’s climb of Mount Everest was supposed to be a test of his strength but more importantly an opportunity to raise awareness about hospice care, a cause, as a hospice nurse, that’s close to his heart. But when disaster struck in the form of an earthquake followed by deadly avalanches on Everest the purpose of Land’s climb changed.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever, there’s no place to go,” says Land about the avalanche on Everest he felt while at Camp 1 on the mountain. “There’s nothing that you can do. All you can do is sit in your tent and wait to find out if you’re going to be buried alive.”
Alive, but trapped on the mountain, Land and those with him had to wait a day to be airlifted back to base camp. A sight that was hard to believe once he’d made it to the bottom of the mountain.
“Just walking around base camp when I got back, it just looked like a war zone,” says Land.
Knowing if he made it quickly to Kathmandu, the city with the international airport, he wouldn’t have been able to get back to the states, his expedition team decided to take their time and trek their way back to civilization offering help in the small, earthquake damaged villages along the way.
“It helped my teammates and I have some way of starting to just process what happened to us,” says Land. “But then when we stopped to help in these villages, these people have nothing yet they’re the most honest, grateful, courteous, generous people you ever want to meet. And so they’re so happy to have any kind of help.”
Land finally made it home on Friday, only to wake up today and hear about the second quake that hit closer to Everest overnight. He says he first thought of the villagers he’d helped just weeks ago and then he thought about himself, saying, “If I was still there, I would have been high up on the mountain, high up, Lhotse Face or making summit attempt and that would be the worst place to be in an earthquake. And a 7.3 closer to Mount Everest than it was to Kathmandu, that probably would have been the end.”
Andy Land’s goal was to climb Everest, and while he didn’t make it to the top, he’s convinced his experience, in the end, means so much more.
He says, “There have been like 600 people in the United States to climb Mount Everest, 600 people out of 300million. This is probably bigger than that in terms of the impact that it will have both for the cause that I was going for and what it will mean in my life.”
Andy Land shared some of the pictures he captured of his trip to Everest. Click here to check them out.