The world’s most famous mountain climber, Conrad Anker, recently experienced acute coronary syndrome (blockage in heart artery that leads to heart attack if untreated) while 6 pitches up a gnarly peak in the Nepalese Himalaya.
He quickly rappelled down and got to a hospital in Nepal fast. He underwent angioplasty surgery to remove an obstruction in one of his coronary (heart) arteries.
Had he not had this procedure, Conrad may have experienced a heart attack and died.
We’re very happy to report that Conrad’s procedure went well and that he is happy and healthy.
“On the morning of the 16th of November 2016 while climbing on Lunag-Ri, a peak in the Khumbu Himalaya of Nepal, I experienced an acute coronary syndrome. My climbing partner David Lama of Austria and I were six pitches up the climb when I experienced severe chest pain. Realizing this was not a pulmonary or cerebral reaction to altitude, we immediately rappelled. Having never experienced anything of this nature I immediately understood this as a time critical health situation. We called for a helicopter and with the help of our Sherpa friends I was evacuated to Kathmandu.
Within 9 hours of the incident I was in the cardiac care unit of Norvic International Hospital. Dr Bhutta performed an angioplasty and removed the obstruction. This procedure is very time sensitive as the heart can fail, experience fibrillation or loose muscle. Dr Bhutta installed a stent in my heart and kept me in observation for three days. Photo: 17 November 2016
I would like to express my gratitude to my climbing partners, our Nepali staff, the medical teams at the CIWEC clinic, Norvic Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. The kindness my family has extended is heart warming. I am forever thankful.” – Conrad Anker, today
ACUTE CORONARY SYNDROME:
“Acute coronary syndrome is a term used to describe a range of conditions associated with sudden, reduced blood flow to the heart.
One condition under the umbrella of acute coronary syndrome is myocardial infarction (heart attack) — when cell death results in damaged or destroyed heart tissue. Even when acute coronary syndrome causes no cell death, the reduced blood flow alters heart function and indicates a high risk of heart attack.
Acute coronary syndrome often causes severe chest pain or discomfort. It is a medical emergency that requires prompt diagnosis and care. Treatment goals include improving blood flow, treating complications and preventing future problems.” – Mayo Clinic
“Acute coronary syndrome usually results from the buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) in and on the walls of coronary arteries, the blood vessels delivering oxygen and nutrients to heart muscles.
When a plaque deposit ruptures or splits, a blood clot forms. This clot obstructs the flow of blood to heart muscles.
When the supply of oxygen to cells is too low, cells of the heart muscles can die. The death of cells — resulting in damage to muscle tissues — is a heart attack (myocardial infarction).
Even when there is no cell death, an inadequate supply of oxygen still results in heart muscles that don’t work correctly or efficiently. This dysfunction may be temporary or permanent. When acute coronary syndrome doesn’t result in cell death, it is called unstable angina.” – Mayo Clinic
ABOUT CONRAD ANKER:
Conrad Anker (born November 27, 1962) is an American rock climber, mountaineer, and author. He is famous for his challenging ascents in the high Himalaya and Antarctica. He is the team leader of The North Face climbing team. In 1999 he located George Mallory’s body on Everest as a member of a search team looking for the remains of the legendary British climber. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
Ascents and expeditions of note:
- 1987 Southeast Face Gurney Peak, Kichatna Mountains, Alaska Range, Alaska, United States. First Ascent (FA) with Seth ‘S.T.’ Shaw, Robert Ingle and James Garrett; summit attained May 8, 1987.
- 1989 Northwest Face Mount Hunter, Alaska Range, Alaska, USA. FA with Seth ‘S.T.’ Shaw, summit attained July 3, 1989.
- 1990 Rodeo Queen, Streaked Wall, Zion National Park, Utah, USA. FA with Mugs Stump
- 1992 East Buttress, Middle Triple Peak, Kichatna Spires, Alaska, USA, 2nd ascent with Seth Shaw
- 1992 Shunes Buttress, Red Arch Mountain, Zion National Park. FFA with Dave Jones
- 1994 Badlands (YDS VI 5.10 A3 WI4+, 1000m), Southeast Face, Torre Egger, Patagonia. Conrad Anker, Jay Smith and Steve Gerberding (USA), FA 12 December 1994.
- 1997 The Northwest Face (V 5.8, 2100m), Peak Loretan, Ellsworth Mountains, Antarctica (solo) Jan 15-16, 1997
- 1997 Rakekniven Peak, Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, FA with Alex Lowe and Jon Krakauer. Featured in the cover article of the February 1998 National Geographic Magazine.
- 1997 Tsering Mosong, Latok II, Karakorum, FA with Alexander Huber, Thomas Huber and Toni Gutsch
- 1997 Continental Drift, El Capitan, Yosemite, CA, USA. FA with Steve Gerberding and Kevin Thaw
- 1999 Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition, Mount Everest, Nepal / Tibet
- 1999 Shishapangma American Ski Expedition, Tibet. Survived a massive avalanche which killed climbing partner Alex Lowe and cameraman David Bridges.
- 2001 East Face of Vinson Massif, Ellsworth Mountains, Antarctica. FA with Jon Krakauer. Featured on PBS series NOVA in February 2003.
- 2005 Southwest Ridge, Cholatse, Khumbu region, Nepal – summit attained with Kevin Thaw, John Griber, Kris Erickson and Abby Watkins on May 12, 2005.
- 2007 Leads Altitude Everest Expedition 2007, joined by Leo Houlding, Jimmy Chin and Kevin Thaw, retracing Mallory’s last steps on Everest. 2nd summit. First documented free climb of the Second Step.
- 2011 Shark’s Fin, Meru Peak, FA with Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk
- 2012 Leads “Everest Education Expedition” with National Geographic, The North Face, Montana State University and Mayo Clinic – 3rd summit, this time without oxygen. With Cory Richards, Sam Elias, Kris Erickson, Emily Harrington, Philip Henderson, Mark Jenkins, David Lageson Ph.D, Hilaree O’Neill. Mayo Team – Dr. Bruce Johnson, Landon Bassett, Derek Campbell, Amine Issa. Base Camp Support Andy Bardon, Travis Courthouts, Anjin Herndon, Max Lowe. 
Anker has also climbed notable routes in Yosemite Valley (California), Zion National Park (Utah), Baffin Island (Canada), and the Ellsworth Mountains in Antarctica.