KATMANDU, May 13 -- Two mountain climbers, an American and a Taiwanese, concluded their successful ascent of the world's tallest mountain Monday with a helicopter trip to Katmandu for medical treatment, Nepali officials said. Seaborn Beck Weathers, a 50-year-old pathologist from Dallas, and Makalu Gau, a 47-year-old photographer from Taipei, were plucked from a Mount Everest camp at 19,356 feet (5900 m) and evacuated to the Nepali capital. 'Weathers has frostbite in both of his hands,' said Dr. David Shlim of Portland, Ore. 'We can't determine his condition right now. He has to go to the U.S. for a check-up. 'Gau's condition is more severe. He has suffered frostbite on both hands and feet,' Shlim said. In Washington, the State Department thanked the Nepalese government for saving Weathers and hailed the bravery of the helicopter pilots during the daring rescue. They plucked him from Camp 4 on Mount Everest, which is at an altitude of 26,000 feet and higher than any previous rescue attempts. 'First and foremost, the United States government ought to congratulate the Nepalese government for having undertaken a very dangerous military mission to save him,' Burns said. Weathers and Gau were among 25 climbers in three expeditions who climbed the 29,028-foot (8,848-m) Everest in severe weather Friday. A blizzard and subsequent avalanche ravaged the climbing parties, killing a Japanese woman and a New Zealand man. The fate of two Americans and another New Zealander, who was trapped just below the summit, remained uncertain Monday.
Killed were Andrew Michael Harris, 32, of Queenstown, New Zealand, and Yasuko Namba, 47, of Tokyo. Namba had successfully climbed the tallest mountains on all seven continents, a Japanese mountaineering association said. Namba became the second Japanese woman to reach the summit when the expedition made it to the top Friday. However, as the party was preparing to descend, it was enveloped by a snowstorm bringing strong winds, whiteouts and extreme cold, according to Namba's husband, Kenichi Namba. The first Japanese woman to climb Everest, Junko Tabei, said from her home north of Tokyo, 'I jumped for joy when I heard she did it, but I feel like I have lost my sister and I am very sorry.' The missing Americans were identified as Scott Fischer, 51, a Seattle businessman, and Douglas Hansen, 47, a postal worker from Renton, Wash. Burns said they were now 'presumed dead.' Also missing was veteran Everest climber Robert Hall, 34, of Christchurch, New Zealand, who authorities said was stuck just below the summit. The Indian Mountaineering Federation reported three Indians also died in the storm. But Nepal's Tourism Ministry, after a brief satellite hookup with the climbers' base camp Monday afternoon, continued to list the Indians as missing. 'We still have no information,' a tourism spokesman said. 'We had a brief contact with base camp at 2.45 p.m.; the line later snapped.' Weathers, initially reported missing, crawled back to a camp at the 26,246-foot (8,000-m) level unassisted after getting separated from his party Saturday. 'I was stopped by a snowstorm at 8,181 meters (26,840 feet),' Weathers told reporters. 'I spend the night there without a tent or oxygen' before continuing his descent the next day. Other climbers eventually helped him reach the camp from which he was evacuated Monday. Meanwhile, Louis Kasischke, 56, a businessman from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., was helped off the mountain after suffering an unspecified illness, the ministry said. Of the 11 expeditions on Everest, four returned to their base camps after the deadly weekend. 'I cannot say if they have abandoned their climbs,' the Tourism Ministry spokesman said. Among those returning was the first South African team to attempt to climb Everest.