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Tom Lee Books
A novel about trekking in
Nepal, its romance and
disasters. Jim Icarus is not about
to allow HACE kill his Dad.
A novel about trekking in Nepal, its romance and potentially
life-threatening disasters. Jim Icarus joins his Dad, Alex
for a trek to the base camp of Mount Everest – Khumbu
region. He falls in love with Charley, a pretty emergency
physician. She helps resuscitate his Dad who succumbs to
HACE, high altitude cerebral edema in Dingboche, Nepal.
He is resuscitated further, first in a Gamow bag and then in a
Jacque Cousteau designed hyperbaric chamber from the High
Altitude Mountain Rescue clinic in Pheriche. A “dive” in the
Cousteau bag brings Alex out of his coma again. Despite
oxygen and transport to 1000 m lower altitude, he remains
in desperate condition. A daring after dark helicopter rescue
leaves Jim on the ground wondering about his Dad’s fate.
When he finally rejoins his Dad in Kathmandu and recounts
the life-threatening events, Alex Icarus admits that such a
disaster would “Melt My Wings.”
In Classical Mythology Ikaros was a youth who attempted to escape from Crete with wings of wax and feathers, but he flew so high that his wings melted from the heat of the sun, and he plunged to his death in the Aegean Sea. Jim Icarus is a handsome 22-year-old college graduate who happily accompanies his Dad, Alex on a trek into the Khumbu region south of Mount Everest in Nepal. He first shows his courage and bravery while fighting the fire and rescuing a youth from a burning helicopter. That earns him the respect of all of his trekking companions, but particularly Charley, a pretty young emergency department physician. Charley is nine years older than Jim, divorced, but is now ready to find the right man, marry and still continue to hike in the summer and ski in the winter. She thinks Jim is the one.
The helicopter that crashed and burned was supposed to be the one that transported trek leader, Dr. Bill Wright and fifteen members of the "Wright" party to Lukla, the jumping off destination for treks into the Khumbu. With no flights possible that day, Mountain Travel sponsors a cocktail party and dinner at the Malla Hotel. Jim and Charley drink too much wine and Jim crashes in Charley’s room much to her delight.
The following day while awaiting their flight a monk appears and places an intricate design on the nose of an awaiting helicopter using crushed flower petals for the pastes and flower petals, a pink and orange flower lei and fruit. They sacrifice a goat using a Ghurka knife. That helicopter takes Jim and the rest of the "Wright" party to Lukla and the trek begins, camping in tents, eating "mystery meats," passing yak trains, walking over good and not so good swaying bridges, to visiting Namche Bazaar and the Tengboche Monastery. They see Mount Everest clearly with contrails that look like smoke rings.
Alex showed some signs of high-altitude mountain sickness as the trek reaches Dingboche, but they abate and he doesn’t tell anyone. During the night Alex develops high-altitude cerebral edema, HACE, which is a form of coma. Jim's persistence in seeking help arouses the whole camp and several members head to Pheriche to the Himalayan Rescue Association Clinic for oxygen and to call for a rescue helicopter. His Dad’s friend, Dr. Robb Anderson and Charley begin restoration of life. By luck a working group who has spent the summer and fall cleaning the trash from the base camp of Mount Everest is camped a few hundred yards from Jim's trekking party when his Dad goes into HACE. Their Gamow hyperbaric bag is successful in resuscitating his Dad out of coma, but unfortunately Alex slips back into coma. Good fortune smiles again when a French physician from the Himalayan Rescue Association Clinic arrives with her Jacque Cousteau designed hyperbaric chamber that will pressure the victim down to sea level. An injection of Niphedapine under Alex's tongue and a dive in the Cousteau bag brings Alex out of his coma once again. Alex survives a trip to a lower altitude on a makeshift stretcher with oxygen flowing, but arrives in poor condition. Only a daring helicopter rescue offers any hope, but once rescued it left Jim wondering about the fate of his Dad.
The rest of the trekking party marched up the trail and encountered a devastating windstorm driving them into stone structures. Eventually five members of the "Wright” party summitted Kala Patthar, but not without another high altitude sickness casualty to the oldest member of the party, 76-year-old Ed. He had summitted Kala Patthar even if it was in the hands and knees and with HACE. Meanwhile, Jim and Robb hurry down the mountain only to have to wait in Lukla for a flight back to Kathmandu. Jim tries to buy his way back to Kathmandu on an earlier flight from a beautiful New Zealand student. She comes with a price tag of $300 and a promise to share a hotel room until she can book another flight to New Zealand; Jim reluctantly declines.
Alex recovers unbeknownst to Jim. He spends the first day reading all of the New Testament from the Gideon’s Bible in the hotel room. The next two days he sight sees around Kathmandu going to the palace where the girl-goddess, the Kumari Devi, or virgin, as the royal Living Goddess was called, resides in splendor and to the "Monkey Temple," Swayambhunath with its 365 steps to the stupa on top. The next day he hiked out to the University that he found in disarray from the earlier student-security riots, but on his way back he found a five star hotel in which to eat a celebratory meal when Jim and Robb returned. Charley transports old Ed on the rescue helicopter in the Cousteau bag. She comes close, but never quite hooks up with Jim. She wants to tell him about herself and the outcome of ol’ Ed.
Alex receives a blessing by a monk who is not seen by anyone else in the hotel lobby and disappears just as Alex receives a phone call from Jim that he and Robb have made it to the airport in Kathmandu. Alex is a little bit confused but they all meet in the hotel lobby and after securing rooms for Robb and Jim head out to "Mike's" for lunch and a leisurely afternoon. Alex purchases a Ghurka knife from a street vendor who lowers its price from $25 to ten dollars. Later that night Jim and Alex recount the events that could "Melt My Wings.”