Mount Everest Avalanche
An avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest on the 18th of April along a route used to ascend the world’s highest peak, killing 16 Nepalese guides and leaving nine more missing, officials said.
The Sherpa guides were ascending high up above base camp in the khumbu ice fields in the morning (about 630am local time) to fix the ropes for hundreds of commercial fee paying climbers when the Mount Everest avalanche hit. The area is locally known as “the Golden Gate” or “Popcorn Field”, lies within the Khumbu Icefall it is below the traditional site of Camp II, on the route between Camp I and Camp II.
13 bodies have been recovered and rescuers were unable to recover 3 Sherpa’s out of the snow, it has been reported. Search and rescue operations were called off due to “too much risk”. The three victims still buried are buried at depths of roughly 80 to 100 metres of snow and ice. Nine other guides were also injured, including three who required intensive-care hospitalization.
No foreigners were killed.
Hundreds of climbers had gathered at the base camp, gearing up for attempts to scale the 8,850-metre (29,035ft) peak early to mid May each year when weather conditions become favorable.
The Sherpa’s have been setting up their camps at higher altitudes fixing routes and ropes on the slopes and ferrying large “loads of equipment, tents, stoves, oxygen and so on up to stock camps” when the avalanche occurred ahead of the ascent to the summit in May.
As soon as the avalanche hit, rescuers and fellow climbers rushed to help. A helicopter was also sent from Kathmandu.
It was reported everyone was really shaken at base camp. Some of the climbers immediately packed up their belongings and left.
There is a mandatory insurance policies which USD$10,000 is payable to guides families, the Nepalese government announced compensation of Nepali Rs. 40,000 ($400) each as immediate relief to the victims’ next of kin. This government offering, which only covers funeral costs, angered Sherpa’s and was dismissed by the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). The NMA announced they would stop work in seven days time if compensation of US$10,000 was not paid to families of the dead, injured and missing. They further demanded a memorial to the dead, the doubling of insurance coverage to $20,000 and government payment of medical bills, which is hardly asking too much for these men who put their lives at risk every time they venture up the slopes of Everest.
While some of the commercial operators continued to stay on the mountain at base camp and tried to negotiate with Sherpa’s to return to work for the summit assaults.
On 22 April, the Sherpa’s announced they would not work on Everest for the rest of 2014 out of respect for the victims.
Trekking operations are not effected in Nepal and the porters although paying their respects to the Sherpa people and the victims continue to lead treks in the base camp region.
Some of the deceased were ceremoniously driven through Kathmandu and many were cremated in a Buddhist religious ceremony.
The Khumbu ice field terrifies even the most experienced climber creaking and groaning as it moves up to 4 feet per day.
More than 4,000 climbers have scaled the summit since 1953, when it was first conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Hundreds of others have died in the attempt.
Our thoughts are with the families of the missing and deceased.