Climbing physician to tell health care peers of Baltistan
By Deborah Moon
article created on:
Health care professionals are invited to hear an insider’s view of the region and people of New York Times best-seller “Three Cups of Tea,” when local physician, geologist and mountaineer Dr. Steve Boyer speaks May 20 on “K2 and the Baltoro Glacier: Where Continents Collide in Baltistan.”
The Maimonides Society hosts Boyer, a member of an American Karakoram expedition attempting a new route on K2 in 1986 seven years before Greg Mortenson’s fateful encounter with the Balti of Korphe. Mortenson, who was very ill after his climb, spent seven weeks recovering in the small Pakistani village, after which he built the impoverished town’s first school; that effort grew into a project that has constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Boyer will show slides of Baltistan from that era, comment on the geology and glaciers of the region, and discuss the disastrous summer on K2 where 13 climbers on nine expeditions lost their lives. To prepare for this lecture, Boyer suggests reading “Three Cups of Tea” by Mortenson and David Relin.
“I do suggest people read the book because I will refer to things in the book as I move through Pakistan,” said Boyer. “Baltistan is a region of Pakistan.”
Boyer grew up on a sheep ranch in Wyoming. He has a degree in geology and biology from Yale and a master’s degree in quaternary (glacial) geology from the University of Colorado.
Boyer said as he spent time in the mountains studying glaciers, he became interested in high altitude physiology, which led him to study medicine in Colorado. He moved to Oregon for his residency in emergency medicine. He worked as a staff physician in the Emergency Department at Kaiser until 1996 ,when he joined Oregon Emergency Physicians at St. Vincent Hospital. He retired from Emergency Medicine in 2005 but continues to do medical relief work overseas.
Boyer has traveled extensively on every continent while participating in eight Himalayan and four polar expeditions and doing medical work in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Nepal, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia and Sudan (Darfur). He has also worked as ship physician in the Arctic and Antarctic.
He was honored as a Newsmaker of the Year for his assistance to victims of a climbing accident and helicopter crash on Mount Hood in 2002.
“I used to be a Director of Portland Mountain Rescue and be involved more regularly (in rescues), but for many years now my participation has depended on my being on the scene,”said Boyer of his involvement in aiding injured climbers such as those on Hood. “On the day to which you refer, I was climbing alone on Hood and came upon the accident. On another occasion when I reached the summit, climbers were trying to reach a couple who had fallen 2,000 feet off the north side of the mountain, but the climbing conditions were too risky. Skiing conditions were better, so I skied from the summit down the Cooper Spur and Eliot Glacier Headwall on the north side to where they had landed. Again, I just happened to be there. Other ER docs with whom I work also been involved in rescues. But it has little to do with being an ER physician. Anyone who comes on these scenes helps out to the best of their abilities.”
The Maimonides Society is the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s group for health care professionals. The society’s May 20 program will begin at 7 p.m. at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. Cost is $40 per person. For reservations, contact Ben Winkleblack at email@example.com or 503-892-7417.