Spring 2015 | Everest Base Camp Avalanche

A major human tragedy is unfolding in Nepal as earthquake casualties exceed 1100 [count as per BBC News]. More fatalities are feared as rescue efforts broaden to remote regions. Being the mid of Spring climbing season, several mountaineers were present in remote BCs all around Himalayas. The tremor truly shook the mountains, resulting in massive avalanches and rock falls. As of now, no injuries or casualties are reported from mountains other than Everest.

On Everest, however, the situation is quite dismaying. An avalanche near BC took away several lives and injured dozens. At the time of incident, many climbers were present in C1 & C2 whereas some were climbing between the camps. As of now, all of them seem to be safe.

Photo of Everest Base Camp, earlier this month.

The Ice Break
As per details coming from Base Camp, the earthquake triggered a huge ice block to break away from the saddle between Pumori and Lingtren - around 800m meters above the tents. This avalanche wreck havocs on upper section of Base Camp, blowing away several tents. Lower portion of Base Camp remained safe. There were avalanches from other peaks as well, but without any significant damage.

“The tons and tons of falling ice going this vertical distance [800m] created a huge aerosol avalanche and accompanying air blast that hit the upper part of Everest BC and blew many tents across the Khumbu Glacier towards the lower Icefall. Apparently the air blast and earthquake also caused many big rocks to shift around as well, which were the cause of some of the crushing injuries suffered by climbers in these upper base camps,” writes IMG partner Eric Simonson.

“It is worth noting that over many expeditions we have never seen an avalanche from this area that was even remotely of this scale. It was truly a freak event caused by a tremendous earthquake.” He further adds.

Illustration from IMG partner Eric Simonson, explaining different locations.


The Ice Cliff  that broke under earthquakes, as seen from BC. Photo: IMG Team

Casualties
Multiple casualties are reported from the mountain. Initial update from Azim Gheichisaz, at 1430hrs yesterday, mentioned death of three climbers. Later, Adrian Ballinger confirmed that the toll has risen to eight. Current report from IMG mentions “14 dead and about 50 injured.” Other sources claim fatality count as high as 18. At the time of accident, approximately 1000 people including climbers, guides, trekkers and support staff were present at BC.

Adventure Consultants Base Camp was amongst those severally hit by avalanche. The team announced unfortunate loss of two of its local staff members. Names are not disclosed for now, due to privacy reasons.

Dan Fredinburg is another victim of avalanche, as confirmed by the family of American Adventurer. He suffered a major head injury.

Marisa Eve Girawong, Base Camp Doctor of Madison Mountaineering Team, also passed away in the incident.

Search and Rescue
Search mission was immediately launched after the incident to look for survivors and recover dead bodies. Lack of visibility, snow covered cracks and risk of further avalanches and aftershocks made the task further difficult and dangerous. Meanwhile, doctors and medical staff gathered at kitchen tents of different expeditions to treat the injuries. It’s reported that make-shift hospitals are operational at IMG, Himex and Asian Trekking tents.

Several injured climbers needed urgent aerial evacuation. However, bad weather and snow didn’t let the helicopter reach BC. “It snowed all afternoon and no helicopters were able to reach Base Camp today. There are a number of helicopters on standby in Lukla ready to fly as soon as the weather improves, hopefully first thing in the morning tomorrow.” Reported IMG team.

As per information from Temba Tsheri Sherpa a while ago, injured climbers are being rescue to Pheruche. Because of bad weather, they couldn't be taken to Lukla.

More on rescue operation here.

Another Morning
It’s already Sunday morning in Nepal. At around sunrise time, Jim Davidson, reports clear weather from the mountain, “Clear sky at C1 (Southside) this am.” From North side of mountain Adrian Ballinger has also confirmed good weather.

Everest this morning, clear and sunny. Source

Sherpa Worried About Families
Communication system in Nepal has been seriously hammered. Majority of Sherpa are unable to connect with their families and feel worried.

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